British Columbia

Province is passing the buck on urban deer problem, says City of Kelowna staff

In a report presented to Kelowna city council Monday, staff said the provincial government should control urban deer.

'They are responsible for wildlife in this province'

The City of Kelowna has seen an increase in the number of complaints about urban deer. (JL1967/Flickr)

Kelowna should pressure the provincial government to deal with urban deer munching their way through local yards, city councillors heard Monday in a report from city staff.

Staff noted an increase in complaints about urban deer in 2017, particularly in the city's South Mission neighbourhood near Okanagan Lake.

"It just seems that the majority of the comments or complaints are coming from that area," said Blair Stewart, parks services manager.

"Most of our areas that are bordering mountainous or forested areas seem to be where we're seeing the number of calls."

He said staff do not currently have an estimate of the number of deer wandering into municipal areas, but he says the problem is bad enough to prompt some citizens to start a petition.

In July, more than 1,000 residents signed a petition calling for the city to introduce an urban deer management program.

The report presented to council Monday did not make any recommendations about what the city should do, but instead put the onus on the province.

Staff suggest controlled burns in local forests

"With all due respect to the province, in the Wildlife Act it states that they are responsible for wildlife in this province," said Stewart.

"It's our responsibility to look after our citizens, but it's also their responsibility to look after their wildlife."

Stewart said city staff wants the province to conduct controlled burns in forests around the city as a possible way to keep wildlife out of local neighbourhoods. That's because new grass shoots and tree buds sprout after a forest fire and could attract hungry deer, keeping them out of nearby gardens and orchards.

"A lot of areas around our town have not been treated and it's not the responsibility of the city to look at that," he said.

"It's one of those things where we bring it up and see if we can encourage it. But like everything, it's a money thing. It's up to them to decide where they want to make those changes."

He is also hoping the province looks at hunting regulations as a possible management tool.

For now, he said the priority is on educating the public about urban deer and what can be done to protect properties including building fences and avoiding trees and plants that deer love to eat.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South.

About the Author

Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email jaimie.kehler@cbc.ca.