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With the southeastern B.C. hunting season now mostly in the bag, the head of the Trail Wildlife Association says there was little success for hunters hoping to put venison in their freezer this winter.

It's been a lean year for deer hunters in southeastern British Columbia.

With the region's hunting season now mostly in the bag, the head of the Trail Wildlife Association says there was little success for hunters hoping to put venison in their freezer this winter.

Terry Hanik says hunters across the southeast, from Castlegar and Nelson to Trail, Creston and Grand Forks, noticed a sparse population of deer – both white tail and mule.

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He says the low deer count is concerning and hunters are wondering how to re-establish the natural balance.

Hunters have noticed a high number of predators, including wolves, coyotes, cougars and even black bears.

Mr. Hanik suggests the remedy could be to get rid of some of the fiercest beasts, but although local wildlife associations have been lobbying for the province to formulate some controls, a plan has not yet been implemented.

"You talk to different hunters and they aren't happy. The

odd hunter is getting their game," he said.

"We need a management plan to see what we can do with the deer, and why their numbers are down."

The provincial government released a draft plan in November for managing the grey wolf population, including the continuation of wolf hunting and the culling of animals in some areas.

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"We have no other way if we want to save our deer, but also moose and elk," Mr. Hanik said.

"We are in bad shape all over. There has to be a remedy [soon] or else we are in dire straits."

The province has found wolf numbers are stable, increasing by about 400 over the last 20 years to 8,500. But the plan also noted that in some parts of the southern Interior, wolves are killing livestock and endangered mountain caribou.

In contrast, Mr. Hanik said he counted fewer than 100 deer in an area south of Trail between March and October.

"At one time, you used to be able to see 600 to 700 deer down in the area. Now you are lucky if you can count 75 to 100 down there," he said.

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