BEYOND THE HEADLINES: A priority problem

Despite lack of physical use of crossbows, bow hunting tops Vernon's priority list

I’m often surprised by what gets to the top of the political priority list.

And case in point has become the focus at Vernon city hall to crack down on bow hunting.

“I don’t want to see a bunch of cross bows used anywhere in the city,” said Coun. Catherine Lord earlier this month.

Now it’s hard to know what defines a bunch so I checked on official complaints.

What I was told by city hall is that in the last year, there have been three or four complaints but most were related to the idea of bow hunting or an incident that happened more than a year ago.

Only one of the reports was directly related to a recent case of bow hunting occurring.

Lord said Tuesday she’s received three or four calls from the Bella Vista area in probably the last four months.

Now it makes sense that Bella Vista is ground zero of the debate as, unlike East Hill or downtown, Bella Vista is dominated by agricultural activities.

“Deer damage in orchards and vineyards is a serious problem in B.C., especially in high-density dwarf tree plantings and easy to reach grape plantings,” states a Ministry of Agriculture fact sheet.

In their constant need to feed, deer will eat virtually anything and they are ruthless. Fruit trees, and particularly young plants, can be chewed down to nothing. Not only does the money spent on tree stock disappear, any future revenue potential from the crop is lost.

Deer are a costly problem for orchardists already bleeding red.

Now obviously bows are weapons and if used irresponsibly, they can place people at risk.

Bows, like guns, are also meant for wildlife, and not your neighbour’s nuisance cat.

But as urbanized as Vernon thinks it has become, there are parts of the community that are still rural in scope and a healthy deer population can present significant challenges.

It’s also unlikely Vernon wants to become like Grand Forks, where parks are covered in feces and landscaping in public areas and private yards has been destroyed. And unlike Bambi, real deer can be physically threatening.

By allowing farmers to address their deer problem, they are providing a broader benefit to the community.

It should be pointed out that most hunters are extremely responsible and shouldn’t be associated with poachers or individuals pretending to be Robin Hood. They don’t want to place someone in a dangerous situation.

Provincial regulations already cover the activities of hunters, while senior government laws dictate penalties for the misuse of weapons. If city officials feel more comfortable having their own rules, fine, but they will largely be duplicating what already exists.

There’s also the reality that provincial government’s Right to Farm legislation considers hunting as a legitimate use on farm land. Wildlife Act regulations must also be met.

So that means that even if city officials receive protests about bow hunting, there may be very little they can do about it.