Wildlife is abundant in Ponoka for the same reasons residents are attracted to life in town — they enjoy the tranquility and abundance of the Battle River and the kindness of their neighbours.
Human encounters with wildlife such as deer, moose, porcupine, skunks and coyotes are for the most part harmless but our own kindness to these creatures may be the reason for an increase in complaints to Town Hall and to fish and wildlife officers.
Fish and wildlife officer Glen Chantal was invited to the May 25 town council meeting to discuss the issue of wildlife nuisances.
Most problems with wildlife, especially deer, can be traced back to residents feeding them over the winter, he said. More animals are attracted to neighbourhoods, especially Riverside, and become a hazard to traffic and a nuisance in gardens in summertime. They can also cause problems if they panic when confronted by dogs or their owners.
Residents whose neighbours have complained about them feeding deer aren’t going to quit, Chantal added.
“I have no solution for keeping deer out of Ponoka or any other community,” he told council. “There’s no law against feeding deer in the community or anywhere else.”
Helping the deer to survive winter is keeping the population artificially high — increasing the risk of traffic accidents but there won’t be an urban hunt to reduce their numbers.
“We will not sanction any type of cull in a community,” Chantal assured council.
Rumours fish and wildlife released a cougar in the area to reduce the deer population are untrue, he said.
Skunks and coyotes are attracted to residential areas because of food sources such as composted vegetable matter and pet food left outside. Fish and wildlife is not responsible for removing troublesome animals such as skunks and porcupines but they do have traps available.
Dead animal clean up is a job for municipal bylaw officers.
“We aren’t responsible to clean up dead animals in town or in the rural area,” he said.
Beaver can play havoc by taking down poplar trees along the riverbank but they seem to be content this spring.
“Most of our fur-bearing animal species like beavers, mink and marten are on the increase because we have a reduced number of trappers out there,” Chantal said. “We don’t have as many people out there trapping furs as we did 10 to 15 years ago.”
Fish and wildlife officers can be reached at 403-783-7093. Call the Town of Ponoka bylaw enforcement at 403-783-4472. –30–