15 July 2011
Word has it that there are about 500 deer living within Penticton city limits this summer, and many more in the surrounding countryside. A friend reports that the game warden says a cull would be dangerous because removing the in-city deer would simply result in the deer in the surrounding areas moving into the city limits – and their major predators, black bear and cougar, would follow them in. The deer are pleasant to look at, but they joyfully clear out people’s garden and chew the bark off young trees. Though I haven’t heard about deer causing injuries to humans or their pets, there have been an unusual number of reports of this kind of activity at other locations in the province this year. Some people are very concerned it could start happening here.
One activity that is occurring frequently is deer crossing roadways. While most of the roads within city limits have fairly slow speed limits, the highway bypass, for much of its length, allows speeds of up to 70 to 80 kilometers/hour. At these speeds, it is sometimes difficult for drivers to slow down suddenly enough to avoid colliding with deer, especially when the creatures panic and swerve all over the highway. An example of this happened today, and I managed to catch a few photos. Some are a bit blurry, as the deer was skittering here and there and it was hard to keep up with him. But they do give a sense of the problem.
What is to be done about this situation is another story. Obviously, the city and surrounding residential and farming areas keep expanding into the deers’ natural territory. Humans particularly love to live close to the lakeshores and along the rivers, cutting wildlife off from their water supply in this arid landscape. Furthermore, the green irrigated vegetation of human habitation is inevitably a temptation to the deer, who otherwise need to feed on dry scrubby grasses.