Urban Wildlife

Urban Wildlife continue to be topics for discussion in the Valley.  In Radium Hot Springs, the focus is on our Bighorn Sheep herd. This herd is migratory, spending most of the summer and fall in Kootenay National Park at high elevation habitats. In recent years approximately 30-40 sheep have not migrated and have spent the whole year in our Village.  In 2014 at least one ewe delivered her lamb in town. This loss of migratory behaviour  raises conservation concerns for biologists including potential for increased disease transmission, damage to low elevation habitats by overgrazing, ingestion of non-native plant species and pesticides, and motor vehicle collisions.

In November, 2013, the Village conducted a  Wildlife Safety Survey in order to get an idea of where our residents stood on issues surrounding the sheep and deer in the community. We had 502 responses which came to a 29% rate of return. 32% of respondents were concerned about deer aggression, while only 25% were concerned about sheep aggression. Larger percentages had personally experienced damage to gardens and property which is attributable to both sheep and deer- of course there are much higher numbers of sheep!  Approximately 1/4 of the respondents were permanent residents, while 3/4 were part time residents. Permanent residents were more likely to be "very concerned" about aggressive deer. Other responses tended to be more balanced.

To address some of the concerns, we have secured funding to work with Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations biologists to herd the sheep into restoration lands before they start lambing in order to attempt to restore normal migratory patterns. We are also planning more sidewalk and street sweeping on the streets which the sheep spend more time on. This will be a reactive policy based on reports from staff and public, and availability of staff and equipment. Parks Canada continues work to restore habitat areas with the hopes of encouraging the sheep herd to stay out of the Village.

While the Village will continue to monitor incidents related to the deer, it has been determined that the Mule Deer population as a whole is not considered a problem at this time. However, there are one or two does who are being monitored for atypical, aggressive behaviour and may have to be dealt with by Conservation Officers in order to protect residents, visitors, and their pets.