Problem deer in East Kootenay will be moved, instead of killed

The controversial deer cull is taking a break this year in B.C.'s Kootenay region, where officials will try relocation instead.

Wildlife workers are forgoing the deer cull and trying to relocate mule deer instead

Mule deer are being relocated to wilder areas to thin the urban population of prolific animals in Cranbrook, Elkford, Kimberley and Invermere. (Matt Reinbold/Flickr)

Kootenay B.C. communities are trying an alternative to the usual winter deer cull this year, relocating problem urban deer deeper in the the woods in the hope they will turn wild again.

The $100,000 initiative is being piloted in Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere and Elkford — four towns plagued by mule deer overpopulation.

A team of experts will relocate up to 80 deer, and then track their movements with GPS to see if the plan works.

The plan was driven by backlash against killing the deer.

"There's been a fair bit of push back against that and looking for non-lethal alternatives. Not only will it help hopefully as it works, but also to bolster mule deer populations outside urban areas," said Ian Adams, senior wildlife biologist with VAST consulting.

Some of the deer will be fitted with GPS collars that will transmit emails daily, so success can be monitored.

The deer have become accustomed to relative safety from predators and easy access to food in gardens and lawns and Adams hopes the well-meaning plan won't turn into a "coyote or bear feeding program" if the deer fail to adapt.

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