When is laying deer feed a means of prepping for hunting season and when is it violating a bylaw against feeding deer inside municipal boundaries?
That was one of the questions with which Dysart council wrestled Nov. 28 during its regular meeting.
In a Nov. 15 letter to council, resident Derek Beachli has a house and two other vacant lots within a mapped area covered by the legislation that prohibits the feeding of deer. He is also a director of two companies that has holdings to another six parcels in that area.
“l figure I have four to eight deer on my residential property at all times,” he said. “I have counted up to 12 at the same time. I don’t have an issue with them at all. They wander around and don’t seem to be afraid of us. And I am not afraid of them as some of the advocates of this (bylaw) may be.”
Councillor Carm Sawyer said Beachli hunts on his property, which Sawyer said is not within the township, in his opinion.
“Under the law I am allowed to bait for deer,” Beachli wrote. “This can mean corn or hay or mineral supplements. Is this bylaw going to lake my rights away as a hunter to bait deer?”
Sawyer suggested there should be a timeframe in which feeding deer could be considered laying bait to harvest the animals.
“The bylaw is very clear that it exempts any hunting activity,” said Karl Korpela, chief building official. “If you’re allowed to hunt, even in that area, it exempts you from this bylaw.”
“I realize that, Karl, but at what point do we say he’s feeding before the hunt … like everybody does? Is it a week, is it a day?” said Sawyer. “Are we only allowing to … feed during hunting season?”
Hailey Cole, municipal bylaw enforcement officer, said the bylaw doesn’t specify hunting season dates as a means of allowing hunters to put out feed to lure animals.
Sawyer posited that it is possible a hunter could say in June that she’s putting out feed in preparation for the lawful fall hunt.
“It just doesn’t seem any way of doing this to suit everybody,” said Mayor Murray Fearrey. “Impossible.”
Coun. Pat Casey said his ward has constituents who identify being on both sides of the deer feeding issue.
“I hate rules in regards to eliminating civil liberties … but, to me, this is one we have to start,” Casey said. “It’s not going to be perfect and it’s one of those deals where maybe we start it and next year this time we revisit it.”
“You can pass a bylaw and then, of course, you can see how it turns out,” said Mallory Bishop, the township’s clerk. “They can always be repealed. They can always be amended. This isn’t the end after today.”
Coun. Nancy Wood-Roberts said council should accept the bylaw’s boundaries as currently mapped and revisit the boundary issue later.
“But it is a hazard,” she said. “They’re a great hazard in town. Some of those deer are very aggressive now.”
Sawyer said the bylaw should only be revisited to consider feedback from qualified experts.
“Not just he said, she said,” Sawyer said. “We need some facts.”
Coun. Barry Boice suggested a compromise that alters the boundaries to eliminate land outside the municipality. People in favour of outlawing deer feeding have suggested the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) abandoned the practice because it was detrimental to the animals.
“I don’t always side with MNR,” he said. “I don’t think … when they decided to quit feeding deer it was all just because it was bad for the deer. Their budgets got cut crazily at the time.”
By James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Dec 03, 2023 at 16:00