Problem deer returning to Kootenay towns amid relocation efforts

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An effort to send problem urban deer back to the wild from communities across B.C.'s East Kootenay region is getting mixed results.

Last year, a $100,000 pilot program went into effect to relocate urban deer that plagued Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere and Elkford.

The effort was billed as an alternative to the annual winter cull.

But according to wildlife biologist Ian Adams of Vast Resource Solutions, nearly half of the deer have simply moved over to the next town.

"Some have done quite well," he told host Audrey McKinnon on CBC's Radio West, adding that the animals reverted to their natural habitats.

"[However] other mule deer have found it more difficult to leave their urban habits behind and have sought out other communities."

Still a mystery

The team has been following 29 of the 60 relocated deer with a GPS tracking system. But Adams says they're still unsure what's driving the animals to urban centres in the first place.

"There's been speculation that they've been avoiding predators," he said. "They may find that the food on offer is very good."

"But if we knew why deer were moving into urban areas, we'd be able to fix the problem a lot more easily."

The team is now considering efforts to expand the project. Adams says the team is looking to relocate deer to a more distant site, as well as expand the size of the tracking pool.

However, it's still unclear if the relocation program will prove to be a viable alternative to the cull.

"If we are going to decide to use translocation, there's always going to be some individual deer that will find other places and revert to their urban ways that quite often involves aggressive behaviour."

With files from CBC's Radio West

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Problem deers returning to Kootenay towns amidst relocation efforts