A group of local residents is banding together with renewed calls for a cull to reduce and control Princeton’s deer population.
Gino Del-Ciotto is the host of a facebook group called Princeton Pro Deer Culling/ Removal From Town Organization. The group has 115 members.
In a recent interview with The Spotlight Del-Ciotto called Princeton “an open zoo,” and he said it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt.
“Being a hunter and an outdoorsman I understand deer and their behavior very well,” said Del-Ciotto, who added he has had to carry a baseball bat to walk his dog so it will not be attacked by deer. Del-Ciotto said a neighbour’s dog was attacked and needed stitches to recover, and that his young godson recently visited and was trapped in a local park by two large bucks who would not let him through the gate.
“It’s not safe to have over 200 of these [deer] in town,” he said.
In November Del-Ciotto completed an independent deer count and recorded siting 184 deer in town – 92 does, 62 fawns and 28 bucks. He believes it’s accurate to add 25 per cent to that number to account for deer that were unseen.
He said previous counts by the town deer committee have been carried out during the wrong time of year so that the deer population has been historically underreported. “I built my home on Angela Avenue three years ago and there were evenings during the rut that we had 16 deer on the block.”
Del-Ciotto will meet with a core group of supporters in the new year to discuss plans for approaching town council about a cull. Any cull would require provincial approval.
“Live cull or lethal cull,” he said. “We are looking at non lethal options but from what we understand the cost is extremely high…fundraising may need to be done to facilitate it.”
In the event of a lethal cull he said the animals would be humanely trapped and killed instantly with a bolt gun, with any healthy meat distributed to native bands and people in town.
“There’s a lot of pressure from special interest groups to preserve the deer and not harm them,” he said. “Disney movies such as Bambi have created this image.”
In addition to being threatening, Del-Ciotto said many deer he has seen in Princeton are unhealthy and have tumors or are infested with ticks that can cause Lyme disease.
Last year the Town of Princeton circulated a deer survey, and found that 86.7 per cent of respondents were “very concerned” about the deer population. Preferred solutions for dealing with the issue were split, however, with 41.3 per cent in favor of a capture and relocation strategy and 45.3 per cent in favor of a lethal cull.
At a recent council meeting, when questioned about the town’s deer committee, councillor Doug Pateman said it would be wrong of council to proceed with plans for a cull without a firm mandate from taxpayers. “We are elected to carry out the wishes of the town.”
Pateman sits on the town deer committee with councillor Rosemary Doughty.
While Pateman has yet to be approached by the fledgling deer cull committee he said he is willing to discuss the issue “as long as everybody is respectful.”
Del-Ciotto said there are other steps the town could take to help limit the deer population including tougher laws prohibiting feeding deer, greater inforcement, and improved fencing around the Princeton landfill site.