Number of deer in Grand Forks has stabilized

The number of deer in the City of Grand Forks appears to have stabilized based on a recent deer count.
Announced at the recent environment committee meeting, the count had 154 deer living within the Grand Forks city limits, down from last year’s 179.
Committee chair Cher Wyers explained that the numbers seemed to have peaked.
From 2007, the September count showed 131 deer. In 2008 there were 156 deer, while in 2009 there was a count of 205 deer but the count was completed in early-October, which is later than usual. In 2010, there were 174 deer.
“We’re back to 2008 levels,” said Wyers. “I was in Zone 4, which is the downtown core (Central Avenue, Riverside Drive over to Donaldson Drive and Kettle River Drive) in this area, and the new economy in Grand Forks is deer fencing. The back alleys are amazing.”
Michele Caskey, a member of the committee, said the situation angers her because it all started with people feeding the deer.
“When I first moved here it was a rarity to see a small fawn walking across your lawn and I’d call the children to come and watch the deer – over the years it’s waned in interest,” she explained. “I’m a gardener so I find it disturbing that everyone on my street is building huge fences. We’re holding out because why should we be building fences when our neighbours are feeding the deer?”
Jenny Coleshill, project co-ordinator for the Granby Wilderness Society, agreed with Caskey. “Deer feeding is a big problem and we’ve talked about creating a map and mapping out the different areas where we could put dots for known feeders to see if there is a big difference.”
Board member and city councillor Gary Smith noted that the discussion on population control of the deer would continue.
“Whether or not we apply for a permit to do a cull, it’s not going to be addressed until a later time,” he said. “The grief that Invermere has suffered by the publicity and groups that are opposed to the cull – a lot of those conditions, Grand Forks has overcome.”
Smith pointed out the Grand Forks has an established deer committee that has completed regular counts and has consulted with the public, steps Invermere didn’t do prior to the cull.
Wyers said that the city wanted to learn from Invermere’s process, especially when an activist group such as PETA becomes involved.
“In their case, they had spent over $26,000 in legal fees alone,” she said. “They did win against the two court injunctions, but they were out of their pocket and they missed the season. They culled around 17 to 19 deer. It’s a learning curve for them and for us.”
However, Smith also wanted to note that part of the leveling out in deer population has to do with vehicle and deer collision rates.
“That’s not a better way of culling deer than bolt and trap. In terms of trauma and damage, it’s carnage,” he said. “Grand Forks pays one of the highest rates for vehicle insurance in B.C. because of high incidence of vehicle-deer collisions.”
Coleshill explained that there is also a lot of misinformation about the process of relocation of the deer as well, where wildlife is removed from its current location and placed in a remote location farther away.
“Some people might think that it’s the nicer thing to do over a cull but really it’s pretty brutal for an animal to be relocated and there’s a lot of things to consider such as where are you going to bring those deer,” she said. “If they’re poor town deer and you stick them out in the wild, they’re sitting ducks.”
Though the deer count shows a lower statistic that previous years, the board noted that there was a lot more information that needed to be gathered.

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