The Town of Diamond Valley is looking to take action in response to its deer population.
At their latest meeting, town council discussed whether or not the town should explore options to address Diamond Valley's deer.
Mayor Barry Crane says he's definitely seen a measured increase in mule deer in town over the last 15 years.
"When I moved here in 2007, I had the kids and we had a nice little garden, we had the carrots, the peas, the whole nine yards, and we never once worried about a deer eating our vegetables. Fast forward to 2020 and we've got people wanting seven-foot fences. You could easily drive around town and count 40 deer in the Turner Valley side at any time. I'd say that the equal is true for Black Diamond."
For Crane, reports of pets being attacked and killed by cougars in Bragg Creek late last year combined with recent cougar signings in Diamond Valley indicate that it's time for action.
"They are so comfortable in town, they're constantly at bird feeders and so on. With the recent cougar sightings we've had along the Friendship Trail, predators come where the food is easy. I think, when you can reach out your bedroom window and smack a deer upside the head, you're probably looking at a pretty easy kill."
Their original agenda item used the word "cull," though by the end, council removed the word and passed a motion to explore options to "reduce the deer population" in town.
Crane says they're still willing to explore a wide range of options.
"You're always going to have two sides of the fence: 'live and let live' and 'not in my backyard.' We really need to just kind of find out what the options are and see if there are any that are exercisable. Relocation isn't really a possibility because you could be transporting disease, so Wildlife is never going to allow that one. So really it comes down to enforcement, culling, or deterrent. What that looks like, oddly enough, Okotoks has been looking at this for a while and still don't have very many solutions, so it's not an easy conversation to have and to actually achieve."
Likening Diamond Valley's deer issue to that of their neighbours to the east, Crane describes it at this point as a "pre-pubescent Okotoks deer situation."
He does expect there will be a fair bit of consultation with Okotoks, with the latter having examined quite a few options over the years.
"I think the first thing we do is look at what Okotoks has done. I'm a big believer in not duplicating, and that's exactly what we would do if we were to strike up a committee and have the exact same conversations only to come up with the same answers that people in Okotoks have been working on for years. I think that's our first stop is to get organized, meet with Okotoks' group, see where they're at and what they've explored, and then just kind of start looking at options," says Crane.
During the meeting, concerns over residents encouraging deer habitation by actively feeding the deer were raised.
Diamond Valley's Bylaw 2023-21 does address the feeding of wildlife under section 18.3:
No person shall bait, feed or take any actions that may attract feral or wild animals, whether on private or public property, excepting the use of bird feeders, which is allowed on the condition that they are set out at a height that is only accessible to birds.
There have been reports on social media of people intentionally feeding deer, but Crane says complaining on social media does little to nothing to address the issue.
"There's constant social media banter where you see people rag on a neighbour for feeding the deer and so on. That's always going to be the case, but it actually comes down to someone phoning bylaw and actually reporting something as 'My kids don't feel safe, I don't feel safe, X, Y, Z, because of the eight feeders next door that the deer now sleep under.' Once bylaw actually gets a true complaint that's filed, then you will actually see something done, but if people just want to banter on social media about this and that, nothing will be achieved."
He says the town has already reach out to Fish & Wildlife to get the conversation going.