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LETTER: Mule deer populations struggle outside of GF

A recent poll in the city of Invermere overwhelmingly supported a deer cull but as expected the much larger question was ignored -- the future of the mule deer.

With the exception of the city of Grand Forks and Vancouver Island the urban deer phenomena is driven by the mule deer which is in serious population decline in our province. The red flag that wildlife managers have refused to acknowledge that confirms the population trend of the mule deer is the dramatic decline in mule deer hunts offered by outfitters. All outfitter clients by law must comply with “Report and Declaration of Guide Outfitter” document that gives the statistical information readily available to wildlife managers.

The major problem is the complete lack of integrity by our wildlife managers who use population estimates that have no connection to reality. This point is made in a government document “Mule Deer Population Data 2008-2011” that claims the mule deer population in the Okanagan/Boundary prior to the 2011 hunting season was 28,000-42,000. In the east Boundary that would have meant a population between 4000-7000 which is an absolute absurdity.

The complete lack of integrity in wildlife management was reinforced when wildlife managers failed to recognize that the growing urban deer population was caused by animals seeking a safe sanctuary and not because of competition on their historic range. Any attempt at intelligent due diligence would quickly validate that argument.

In the mid-nineties it was obvious that if the hunting pressure on the mule deer in the east Boundary was not reduced the critical mass would be lost. In response to concern for the mule deer senior biologist from Kamloops, Fred Harper and regional wildlife manager, Steve Willett came to Grand Forks and announced that the solution was to hunt the buck two weeks longer. I told Steve Willett the proposal was madness. His response “We hired him as our expert what can I do?”

Today the mule deer, once in the thousands, has been reduced to a small pathetic population and yet once again wildlife managers and their political masters have embraced a new tactic that ensures the death spiral of the mule deer will continue. Sex ratios -- if 20 per cent of a small population of big game animals is males then long hunting seasons are justified.

Is this the fate of the whitetail deer? Thanks to liberalized hunting seasons the whitetail has become a rare site on its historic range.

If the Grand Forks city council successfully pursues a deer cull and remains silent on the collapse of the whitetail deer population the political agenda driving this irresponsible management will continue. Very few politicians are respected by British Columbians and the ones we do respect are not afraid to strike their colors in public.

Barry Brandow

Grand Forks