The conversation about the issue of urban deer in B.C. communities is widespread, from neighbours on the street corner to the higher echelons of the provincial government.
Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald recently had a meeting with Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. The subject was deer hazing and Kimberley’s one-day trial at the end of May.
Deer hazing, in which trained dogs are used to “herd” the deer out of town, is currently prohibited under provincial law. But following the experiment in Kimberley, which by all accounts was successful, Macdonald believes there could be some momentum into having that law changed to allow more deer hazing.
“The Minister said he was open to the idea and looking into it,” Macdonald said. “He said he thought it was a good idea. He has staff working on it.”
If it does involve a legislative change to the Wildlife Act to allow for dogs to chase deer, Macdonald said it would only be a small change and therefore quite easily made.
“It could be done for the next session but that’s for Legislative Management to decide. We are scheduled to sit in the fall but there’s an expectation we may not, given past history. But even if we don’t sit until next winter, there’s still time.”
The Minister did not make a commitment and Macdonald says these conversations are quite casual, but he felt encouraged.
“There has been a resistance to changing the Act somewhere in the bureaucracy in the past,” he said. “But the Minister does get final say and his response indicates an openness. That’s encouraging.”
In a letter to Macdonald, Minister Thomson made no commitment but did say:
“The provincial government supports communities taking creative approaches to managing urban deer and other wildlife.”