Resident angered over B.C. government trapping deer for research

Southern Interior Mule Deer Project has been capturing and releasing adult does and fawns

WORKING TOGETHER Many partners have been involved in the Southern Interior Mule Deer Project. From left are Dave Carleton of the Summerland Sportsmen’s Association; Andrew Walker of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; Chloe Wright, a graduate student at University of British Columbia Okanagan; Adam Ford, on staff at University of British Columbia Okanagan and Cailyn Glasser, a wildlife biologist with the Okanagan Nation Alliance. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

When Paul Michel discovered a deer trapped in a cage near Camp Boyle west of Summerland early Thursday morning, he was shocked and outraged.

“It’s totally sick. It’s wrong in so many ways,” he said.

He added that the deer appeared stressed in the cage and he wondered why the trap had been set.

By the next morning, when officials from the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development arrived, the cables to the trap had been cut and the deer had been released.

Andrew Walker, a wildlife biologist with the ministry, said the trapping is part of an ongoing project to study mule deer populations.

The Southern Interior Mule Deer Project is the largest collaborative study in mule deer in the province’s history. It was started in 2018.

Members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, B.C. Wildlife Federation members and clubs, the University of British Columbia Okanagan and the University of Idaho are among those involved in the study.

He said traps are set up around the area and are checked once or more each day.

Chloe Wright, a PhD student at UBC Okanagan, said GPS collars are put on the trapped deer, which are then released.

“What we’re really trying to get is some survival information,” she said.

Adam Ford, a faculty member at UBC Okanagan, said people who encounter the traps should leave them alone, especially if there is an animal trapped inside.

“We have strict protocols to deal with how to get these animals out safely,” he said.

Funding for the program was provided by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

Most of the collared adult does returned to the winter range by the middle of October.

For this year, the researchers are hoping to put collars on 90 adult does and 60 fawns.

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