The province is putting up more than $56,000 for urban deer management in Interior B.C. — an important jurisdictional victory for municipalities, according to the mayor of Invermere.
Invermere is getting $10,200 to help cull its urban deer population. Grand Forks is getting $16,000 and Elkford is getting $10,000.
Cranbrook is getting nearly $20,000 for a pilot relocation program.
Gerry Taft, mayor of Invermere, says the money is a win for cities because it's an acknowledgement from the province about its responsibility for the deer.
"We always need permission from the province [to cull or relocate deer]," Taft said. "We always felt that the province should be at the table as the funders, that they should be helping to fund these solutions."
Relocation programs tested
Taft said the funding is on a per-deer basis, with the province doling out $200 per deer. He says that covers most of the cost of the cull, but not all of it.
Invermere has been culling its urban deer population since 2011. Taft says the city's strategy has changed significantly since then; the initial goal was to reduce the population as much as possible, but the city now takes a more strategic approach, culling a smaller number but focusing on especially problematic areas.
The city has also experimented with relocation programs, tagging and moving 13 deer out of the city in 2016.
Taft says the results were mixed. The deer took to the relocation better than expected, but several have already ended up back in town.
"They were moved over 50 kilometres away from Invermere into the backcountry, [but] at least four of those deer have returned to Invermere," he said.
Humans to blame
Wild animal culls are always contentious issues, and Taft says Invermere is no exception.
He said the relocation program shows some promise as an alternative to culling, but the costs might be prohibitive if so many of the deer return to the city anyway.
But Taft says problems with urban deer are, at their core, just as much about humans as about the deer themselves.
To that end, Taft hopes the cull will have the secondary effect of making people realize that their own actions are putting deer at risk — things like feeding deer or leaving garbage unsecured.
"It's about what humans are doing and the behaviour of humans that are attracting deer and allowing them to thrive and stay in these urban environments," he said.
With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West.