Gore Bay residents request more areas to bow hunt deer

GORE BAY—A delegation of Gore Bay residents has requested town council to expand its current bylaw to include three other locations in town where bow hunting permits can be provided to hunt deer.

“I would like to thank you (council) for the opportunity to speak about the current problem in town with (the steadily increasing population of) deer,” said Joyce Foster, spokesperson for the residents at a town council meeting last week. “I’m sure most read the article in the Recorder in September outlining our concerns that deer are eating everything in sight in town, even including blue spruce trees. It is getting to the point that people are not wanting to bother to try and plant or grow anything because of this.”

“I’ve had plants and flowers that I’ve had for 27 years,  but they eat these as well,” said Ms. Foster. She said another concern with the high population of deer in town is that it poses a safety concern. “I know a woman who said last year she was walking down the street with her dog and a deer chased them. We have a fair number of bucks in town, and with the upcoming (deer) rutting season, they can get violent. People are going eventually going to get hurt.”

“We need to do something now before waiting for something bad to happen,” said Ms. Foster. She explained in talking to a number of other municipalities in Ontario and throughout Canada, “a good deal (of municipalities) in Ontario and Canada are in the same position as we are.”

“In Western Canada one municipality has a cull in place for deer. I’m not suggesting we have one here, but other municipalities have other programs in place like relocation (of deer) and a vaccination program for birth control,”continued Ms. Foster.

“One municipality tried to relocate 13 deer 50 kilometres out of town, but four returned,” explained Ms. Foster. “It proved not to be worth the money that was spent to relocate the deer.” She pointed out to vaccinate deer and relocate them is approximately $200 per deer in one municipality.

Ms. Foster noted in 2005 the town passed a  bylaw to allow for special permits to hunt deer, with  bow, at the Flanagans, Wrights and Hietkamp (dairy) property.

Later the town disallowed the feeding of deer in town, including through bird feeders.

“I have been talking to the ministry (of Natural Resources and Forestry) which is willing to help out to resolve the issues,” said Ms. Foster. “And after talking to some local residents, we are asking that the deer (bow) permit bylaw be expanded to include the Blaine Armstrong, Charlie Turner and George Purvis properties, for next year (2018).”

“The deer numbers keep multiplying in town,” stated Ms. Foster, who had previously indicated she had 15 deer standing in her yard one day. “The MNRF is prepared to help  us in whatever way they can. We are asking council to allow for extra hunting permits during the bow season for next year. The other thing is that the municipality has a bylaw for residents not to feed the deer, but there are a few people who are not adhering to this bylaw and are feeding the deer. This needs to be looked at as well. In talking to municipalities out west they say that this (feeding of deer) is the biggest problem they have.”

“I would hope council would consider these proposals. We can’t put our heads in the sand on this issue. We are saturated with deer in town.”

Town councillor Ken Blodgett recalled that in 2005 about 120 people attended a meeting in town with the MNRF and council to discuss the same concern. He pointed out a local resident offered to pay the costs of tranquilizing some deer to take to relocate to another area but this was rejected. “I don’t have a lot of confidence in the MNRF helping out. They had promised to help out previously but we never heard from them again,” said Councillor Blodgett. He pointed out in 2005 his daughters were young and he was leery of letting them outside on their property because of safety concerns with the number of deer around.

“We had six deer in the back yard,” said Councillor Blodgett. “The deer are born in town and they aren’t afraid of people.”

“They don’t leave town,” said George Purvis.

Ken Mackenzie, one of the 13 residents at the meeting said, “I’m just wondering about liability to the town if nothing is done and someone gets hurt by a deer in town. For instance, we have older persons who use the boardwalk; would the town be liable if someone is hurt by one of the deer?”

Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane said, “I think we are prepared to look at all avenues to help solve the problem.”

Ms. Foster said in talking to the MNRF if the town would allow more properties be allowed to have more permits provided for bow hunting, they would consider providing extra hunting licences. But it would have to be Gore Bay specific, because it wouldn’t do any good to the town if for instance the extra licences are provided for residents in Gordon/Barrie Island.

Gore Bay resident Jim Wright noted, “one year we had bow hunt (cull) permits for September. This was tried and it didn’t work. The fawns were so small the hunters on our property didn’t want to shoot them or the does as well. If an application is made for permits it would work better for late November or December when the young deer are bigger.”

Mayor Lane said, “this issue was discussed 12 years ago, and maybe there are more deer in town now, but this is the case everywhere. We are not unique here (Gore Bay). I have cedar trees that the deer have eaten.”

Mayor Lane recommended that the issue and request from the residents be tabled at the town’s general government committee, to review the current bylaw in place, and possibly expanding it, and looking at how to curb the feeding of deer in town, including deer feeders, which on the latter he offered, “this probably can’t be banned.”

“I like Jim (Wright) idea to have the additional tags provided after the regular (bow hunt) season,” said Mayor Lane. “I can’t see the problem going away, but if we can improve things to a certain extent it would be helpful for everyone.”