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City staff hopes deer education will continue

City staff said they were pleased with the first year of the urban deer public education program and hope it will be continued in 2015.

City staff said they were pleased with the first year of the urban deer public education program and hope it will be continued in 2015.

“We worked with the City of Kimberley to put together a public education program on dealing with wildlife, in particular urban deer, and it was quite a success,” CAO Wayne Staudt said at the Monday, Jan. 5 meeting.

WildSafeBC put together the program for the two municipalities.

“The program was educational,” Staudt said. “It’s probably something we might want to consider again in 2015.”

WildSafeBC also provided a report on the first season of the program in Kimberley and Cranbrook.

Community coordinator Sonja Seher wrote that although the communities are close geographically, the issues related to human-wildlife conflict vary widely.

“In 2014, Kimberley featured a comparable number of calls to the Conservation Officer Service Reporting line as in 2013,” Seher wrote. “In contrast, the call volume in Cranbrook in 2014 had nearly doubled when compared to the previous year: an 83 per cent increase.”

Seher said educational programming was a strong focus for the program in 2014, with over 20 presentations conducted in schools and special interest groups. WildSafeBC made contact with a variety of interest groups over the 2014 season, which included an array of events, door-to-door outreach and media releases.

She said WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook hopes in 2015 to build upon the momentum of its first season by expanding educational programming and engaging more community groups and volunteers.

Back in November 2013, the Urban Deer Management Committee recommended that council create an urban deer public education program. The program was part of an update unanimously approved by council at the Nov. 25, 2013 meeting.

In February 2014, council agreed to provide $1,250 to WildSafeBC to participate in a public education program around urban wildlife, with a specific focus on urban deer.

The funding was part of the city budget, under the Urban Deer Wildlife Education line item.

Seher worked on both the City of Cranbrook and City of Kimberley. Each contributed funds to the program.

Funding was also provided by the BC Conservation Foundation (BCCF), Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and the Ministry of Environment.

The WildSafeBC program works to reduce human-wildlife conflict through education, innovation and cooperation. It evolved out of the successful Bear Aware program and is owned and delivered by the British Columbia Conservation Foundation based in Kamloops.

Over the spring and summer of 2014 city staff worked with WildSafeBC and Seher to roll out the program.

City staff noted they were pleased with the result of the first year of the program. They wrote that they also hope that  council would be able to provide funding again in 2015 to continue the education program.

The WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook Year End Report is available online in the Jan. 5, 2015 council package at the city's website here.