By Lyonel Doherty
I love Bambi.
But I don’t love dodging deer on the highway or seeing drivers stranded because their cars are banged up on the side of the road. You or I could be next. In fact, I was almost next this winter when a deer ran out in front of my car and I hit the brakes and started sliding . . . right into the deer. Fortunately I only bumped it and both of us got away unscathed.
Last fall I was driving over the Okanagan Falls bridge when a deer darted out from under the structure and ran right in front of me. I slammed on the brakes and barely missed it while vehicles were coming toward me. Luckily I didn’t swerve and hit another car.
So, what am I getting at?
Something has to be done about our overpopulation of deer in the Okanagan. They are responsible for countless collisions on our highways and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in damage to our tree fruit industry.
So, what am I saying?
There, I said it.
Many communities, including Oliver, cull the Canada goose, so why not problem deer?
Geese pollute our lakes and beaches, and cause hazards at our airports. So we kill them.
Deer cause many injury accidents and ICBC claims, not to mention the destruction of crops and the threat posed to humans and pets.
But we put up with all of this because killing deer, except for food, is frowned upon by the public. We call it the Bambi syndrome.
How could you shoot an adult deer that was once a Bambi with wobbly legs?
What I suggest is a cull could be expertly handled by members of the Southern Okanagan Sportsmen’s Association. Like the goose hunt in town, issue permits to half a dozen responsible hunters and donate the venison to the food bank or host a community dinner. But you have to wonder how many people would come out to chow down on Bambi.
Erecting more fencing is another solution to control the deer population. But we’ve tried that already.
A perimeter fence at the base of our mountains has also been suggested, but that would be very costly.
Fencing too much of our community would soon transform our haven into what would appear like another prison, particularly if each orchard was fenced off.
I’m not saying cull all of the deer, just some of them to ease the pressure on our highways and our orchards.
Look what happened to Joe Machial’s orchard last year and to Michael Sidhu’s cherry crop this year. He planted over 1400 trees in 2016 at a cost of more than $15,000. Now he’s left with 300 trees after deer destroyed the rest.
We can’t expect the people who grow our food to continue taking such losses. And no, it should not be the cost of doing business.