The Dryden Observer

Your Source for Dryden News

City not alone in solving deer problem

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

It’s encouraging to see the City of Dryden finally agree to engage citizens on the matter of urban deer sometime in the new year.

As ripe for parody as the topic seems on The Simpsons, the issue of urban deer and the damage they cause has likely been the most consistent complaint I’ve heard from the citizenry since I returned to Dryden six years ago.

Even before I returned, I was no stranger to the deer beat, having watched communities like Cranbrook and Sparwood in the East Kootenay region of B.C. agonize over how to address not only damaging, but territorially aggressive deer that had grown far too comfortable strolling up and down their sidewalks and menacing school children.

In every community I’ve seen this problem manifest, the response from government wildlife management professionals has been the same. While always informative and insightful into how these situations evolve, the biologists trail off palms-up and shoulders shrugged, falling short on recommendations of how to solve the problem or reverse the trend to anyone’s satisfaction.

“Don’t feed the deer,” they say. “Don’t feed them what, the bottom six feet of my cedar shrubs? Our gardens?” we snort and the issue is shelved for another season out of frustration.

The biologists I’ve heard speak on the subject tend to offer the insight that deer make their homes within urban areas as means to avoid predators. Running unchallenged by natural checks and balances, their population can increase rapidly.

In surrounding Crown Land areas, the province uses hunting as a management tool to shape the deer population to best fit the available habitat.

But in an urban setting, hunting has always seemed a more questionable tool to employ. Wildlife culls seem too controversial a method to supplement predation than biologists are willing to suggest. There are obvious public safety concerns to address.

But in recent months it looks as though some regional municipalities are moving towards some course of action. In Thunder Bay, where urban deer are causing an estimated 1.6 traffic accidents per day, council is looking to amend firearms discharge bylaws to allow for bowhunting on private property in certain areas within Thunder Bay city limits.

Among the regulations, hunters must obtain permission from landowners and would not be allowed to discharge a bow within 75 metres of a road or occupied dwelling. Tree stands would have to be at least three metres high.

Kenora’s Deer and Wolf Task Force, in response to some violent incidents involving deer and residents made recommendations to amend the city firearms bylaw along similar lines to their council in September.

Time will tell whether the rules around bowhunting within city limits will prove too restrictive to be an effective tool to control the population, or if a limited hunt could work within city limits.

While there’s no telling what course of action the City of Dryden will take on the matter, you can rest assured they’ll get an earful from the public in the new year.

Chris Marchand


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