Some of these letters have been sent to the media by citizens concerned about the CRD handling of the "deer situation", but may not have been published. This space gives them an opportunity for their voices to be heard. It also allows for transparency regarding the political process as many letters have been sent to the CRD without any response from them.
If you have a letter you sent to the media in support of the deer, or to the mayors and councils in the CRD, and would like to see it published here, please let us know.
If you would like to write or call the Mayor and Council of Oak Bay, here is their contact information:
To contact Minister Thomson, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations : FLNR.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Or write to him at: PO BOX 9049, STN PROV GOVT., Victoria BC, V8W9E2
Urban deer don’t attract cougars
Times Colonist, Oct 18, 2015
Re: “Cougar sightings reason to cull deer,” letter, Oct. 7.
I would like to dispel a widely held but incorrect view: that urban deer are attracting cougars. I am a retired biologist with 35 years of experience in wildlife management.
In the late 1970s, the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch produced maps that illustrated the distribution and abundance of each of the province’s large mammal species. I did the extensive background research for the cougar map.
One common thread was cougars coming into Victoria. This is nothing new and has happened every year as far back as records have been kept. In 1973, a cougar was shot on the steps of the Carnegie Building at Yates and Blanshard. Around the same time, another one entered the main foyer of a downtown office building. In 1998, a cougar walked into the old office of Scott Plastics near Fisherman’s Wharf.
These are a few of many such cases. All of these examples were in the last century. Deer only became numerous in Victoria since the year 2000.
Cougars are territorial, and young ones are forced into marginal areas by mature cats that occupy the best territories. This sometimes means living nearer to people than the cougar would like.
Generally, cougars want nothing to do with people, and if you think about it, how would they even know the deer are here? Do people think there is a sign in cougar language at the top of the Malahat that reads: “For a good lunch, go to Oak Bay”?
Re: “Deer dilemma traps farmer,” March 15
In 2010, we bought a house on almost half an acre in Qualicum Beach and wanted to reap the bounty of home-grown fruit, produce and herbs.
Using three-metre lengths of rebar, we threaded the rebar through 30-metre lengths of two-metre-high deer fencing, then pounded a metre of the rebar into the ground every two or three metres around the perimeter of our property. We have not had one deer enter our property since erecting this deterrent.
Because rabbits are also abundant in our Eaglecrest neighbourhood, we soon realized that they were adept at chewing little doorways into the bottom of the deer fencing. We then tweaked the deer fencing with 30-centimetre-high reinforcement of chicken wire at the ground level. We have been rabbit-free since then.
It might sound unsightly in a residential area. We had discussed our plan with our neighbours beforehand. The rebar/deer fence became almost invisible to the eye (except for the shimmer in the sun and the slight snow collection during the winter) and our garden has become one of the most appreciated and productive in the neighbourhood.
It took two innovative women just one weekend to erect the fence and less time than that to reinforce it. Items required: elbow grease, sledge hammer, deer fencing, rebar, zip ties and ladder. Oh, we tied short lengths of coloured plastic along the upper edge for a couple of weeks to give the deer a “heads up.”
URBAN DEER, QUIET OAK BAY
There's "No cloak, no dagger", the Mayor said,
as I weep over deer that are dead.
A youth spots a deer hung from a tree -
That's what Oak Bay doesn't want us to see.
Traps destroyed in Cranbrook - what corruption! -
no "criminal activity" here, "no disruption".
We're fined hundreds of bucks for feeding deer,
but if it's to kill them - we're in the clear.
Eleven deer killed, buckets of blood spilled:
Our gardens were quiet. What a riot!
Another deer/vehicle collision:
Reduce speed limits? Hard decision.
So, the SPCA has had their day;
we misinterpret - but give them their say.
A quarter of a million dollars spent;
that's great, no one with status will repent,
though this Island's crashed deer population
cries out for habitat restoration.
And Staff explain, it helps "ease the pain"
sending carcasses to First Nations,
cementing good neighbour relations.
Let them be the butchers, our hands are clean.
(Hmm...raccoons and rats vandalized the traps...)
Let's exterminate raccoons - sight unseen.
Let's replace secrecy and deception
with care, compassion and ...contraception.
WE'VE NOTHING TO HIDE: WE'RE ON THE SAME SIDE!
Marion Cumming, Oak Bay, March, 2015
I have been an international homestay host in Victoria/Oak Bay for 10 years. I have hosted dozens of international students from all over the globe.
These students come from cities where wildlife has been all but decimated. Our beautiful island has been selected by these students, in part, because of our green landscape and proximity to nature. They are in awe of the majestic animals that live in our midst and and in our ocean. They are constantly taking photos and posting them on Facebook. The Oak Bay deer posts have been seen in every country in the world, accompanied by the thankful comments of these students that they have been witness to such beauty.
Some of the international brochures even feature photographs of the urban deer, raccoons and eagles that we take for granted. One student from Korea told me that she would have to travel for three hours to see what we are blessed with in our own neighbourhood.
So I speak on behalf of them when I emphatically oppose an urban deer cull in Oak Bay. They have attended the anti-cull rallies, posted photos on Facebook and written to me from Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, China and Taiwan to add their voices to the protest.
Oak Bay council must be aware that this is a very negative and barbaric impression to give to our international visitors, and they have asked me to speak for them.
(On behalf of 18 international students)
Deer cull a pointless waste of money and life
Last week, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen proudly proclaimed his district’s controversial deer cull a “success” after 11 deer were trapped and killed in a “pilot” population-reduction program.
But Oak Bay and Capital Regional District taxpayers aren’t fooled. By any measure, there is no success to be celebrated. Even before the culling started, the mayor could not demonstrate how killing these animals would reduce deer complaints.
The decision to cull evolved out of a deeply flawed CRD process, had no basis in science, ignored proven non-lethal alternatives, and was roundly condemned by credible animal welfare groups and scientists as ineffective and inhumane.
This issue goes far beyond the ethics of killing wild animals because they’re deemed by some to be a nuisance. This is about democratic processes and an expectation that our elected officials will make responsible, evidence-based and transparent policy decisions after gathering all necessary information, consulting broadly, and carefully considering and implementing viable management options.
The pilot cull was part of the CRD’s Regional Deer Management Strategy crafted by a citizens advisory group that was supposed to have been broadly representative. But from the outset, the process was compromised by a lack of openness and credible research, and a pro-cull bias.
Oak Bay residents were never surveyed about their opinions on urban-deer management, even though a 2010 report commissioned by the B.C. government strongly recommends this be done.
No scientific deer count has ever taken place, despite the expertise sitting nearby at the University of Victoria. Instead, workers drove along main roads over a five-day period in April 2014, counting deer. (The highest number seen in one day was 26.)
Oak Bay may have used deer complaints to estimate numbers, but it has yet to release the statistics. According to CRD figures, only 13 deer complaints have come from Oak Bay in the past two years, most of these revolving around gardens.
Jensen says: “It is clear there has been an explosion of the [deer] population over the last five or 10 years.” Yet no one has provided clear statistical or objectively derived observational evidence to support this statement.
Studies from elsewhere stress the importance of non-lethal measures to mitigate human-deer conflicts, such as ongoing public education, road signs and speed reduction. The terms of reference of the CRD Regional Deer Management Strategy state that culls are recommended only after all other means of deer management have been tried and found to be ineffective.
Have these measures been tried by Oak Bay? The district will tell you yes, but don’t be deceived.
There has been no meaningful outreach to Oak Bay residents, other than leaflets inserted once into a flyer-laden community newspaper.
Deer-vehicle collisions are a concern. ICBC statistics show that Oak Bay had 13 deer-vehicle incidents in 2013. More than 70 per cent of collisions occurred on roads adjacent to Uplands Golf Course. Has Oak Bay lowered speed limits in this area? No, it hasn’t.
In fact, throughout Oak Bay, measures to reduce deer-vehicle collisions such as signs, speed reduction in high-risk areas and speed-limit enforcement have been minimal.
Given these shortcomings, why was Oak Bay granted a cull permit by the province? The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations says it does not evaluate mitigation efforts before issuing a permit. All Oak Bay had to do was take the minimal actions needed to check off the required boxes.
We believe Oak Bay’s objective all along was a cull. Whatever motivation drove this single-minded path, it overlooked due process, science, public consultation, reasonable alternatives and overwhelming evidence that culls do not eliminate human-deer conflicts.
It also ignored the B.C. SPCA — the independent authority for the humane treatment of animals — which has repeatedly stated that a cull is “not a sustainable or evidence-based solution for managing deer in this area.”
Yet here we are with 11 dead deer (at a cost to CRD taxpayers of more than $250,000), a community bitterly divided, and a mayor hinting of plans to expand the cull next winter based on “lessons learned.”
But what have we really learned? Only that a basic lack of knowledge about biology, ecology and economics, combined with reckless fear-mongering about public health and safety, leads to bad public-policy decisions and a pointless waste of money and animal life.
Liz White is a director of Animal Alliance Canada. Barry MacKay is with Born Free U.S.A. and is on the board of Animal Alliance Canada. Both also represented the B.C. Deer Protection Society in a written presentation to Oak Bay council in February. To see a copy of their report on the Oak Bay cull, visit animalalliance.ca
Letters to the Editor
Couple cancels stay
posted Feb 3, 2015 at 6:00 AM
After reading a feature article in the Globe and Mail, my wife and I became quite dismayed over this needless kill of deer in Oak Bay. Upset enough that we have now cancelled a two-night stay and dinner out with four others at two Oak Bay businesses. After a brief discussion it was the same opinion of others involved to cancel as well. It was concluded the only power we had was to not spend any more money in Oak Bay and encourage others to do the same.
This is our form of protest of what we believe is a needless kill, especially when there are other non-lethal options as outlined in the Globe article. Wildlife biologist Rick Page says “Ecologically the deer are not a threat” and supports the stop of the cull. We also believe that the Oak Bay mayor is fear-mongering.
My wife Elaine Tanner (ex Olympian triple medalist swimmer) visits Oak Bay frequently having relatives in the area. Both of us have noticed over the years the absence of squirrels in Oak Bay parks and streets. Elaine wonders if they have met the same fate as the deer. As far as the deer creating a serious safety issue for cyclists, people should be more concerned about humans – with crazy car drivers or poor lighting on roads or inadequate bike lanes – than an occasional defenceless deer.
We are cancelling accommodations and dinner for six that was scheduled this week in Oak Bay.
Elaine asked me to pass on the following quote: “There are only two things which are infinite, the universe and mankind’s stupidity, and I am not so sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein.
John Watt & Elaine Tanner
White Rock, B.C.
Deer management issue driving wedge through community
- posted Jan 27, 2015 at 8:00 AM
As a veteran municipal councillor who served nine years in two different communities, I’ve never seen such a divisive community issue as urban deer management in Oak Bay. The topic continues to generate an unprecedented volume of letters to the editor and ongoing media coverage.
I was on Oak Bay council when the Capital Regional District’s Deer Management Strategy was adopted in 2013. While I voted to support a pilot project, I was the only councillor who voted for an option that would have provided Oak Bay council more local control over the pilot together with ongoing public consultation and systematic assessment of results as each stage of the strategy was completed. In my experience, as a pilot program unfolds, good management requires making adjustments based on changing conditions, new information and impact.
Even Oak Bay residents who support a deer cull have recently expressed concern and embarrassment to me about how our municipality’s reputation is being portrayed. Media and politics continue to overshadow what should have been a well-planned and managed public process, supported by science, evidence and community consultation. Instead, our residents have largely been educated through the press and outside organizations.
During the municipal election last fall, I suggested taking the time to evaluate the pilot for its effectiveness and efficacy and forming a strategic partnership with Victoria and Saanich, neighbouring communities with their own populations of urban deer. I argued that culling 25 deer inside Oak Bay borders alone would not be effective, from either a cost or animal control perspective.
I asked for an accurate deer count for Oak Bay, research on migratory patterns from Saanich, and a reduction of speed limits on Cadboro Bay and Cedar Hill X Roads where there are the highest deer/vehicle conflicts according to CRD and ICBC accident statistics. I called for proper signage on these major traffic corridors, consistent with provincial Ministry of Transportation standards, i.e. large yellow flashing signs clearly warning of the deer hazard in and around Uplands Golf Course and on other major roads. Such key elements of the deer management strategy appear to be still missing from Oak Bay’s pilot program.
We have recently learned that even though a request for proposal has been issued, and a culling contractor has to be “trained,” there are actually viable humane options now available for controlling urban deer. Equally concerning is that it is questionable that the CRD and Oak Bay have the staffing capacity to adequately manage or evaluate a deer cull pilot in an urban, compact community such as Oak Bay. How are property owners and residents kept informed while the cull is underway, how are traps monitored and what are the benchmarks to make sure that the cull is humane and effective?
Oak Bay appears to be the petrie dish for an urban deer cull, the first undertaken in Canada. Will our municipal staff, council and the CRD be prepared to manage issues arising during and after the cull and will our taxpayers know exactly what the direct and indirect costs are of this cull and any planned for the future? And why isn’t the immunocontraceptive alternative being given serious consideration? Until these questions are fully explored and answered, Oak Bay and the CRD have not completed the due diligence that is absolutely necessary before a cull takes place.
Jack Knox: A voice from wilderness defends Oak Bay’s deer
Jack Knox / Times Colonist
January 23, 2015 09:09 PM
Kelly Carson works the bullhorn during an anti-deer cull protest in Oak Bay Village. Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times ColonistThe knock on opponents of Oak Bay’s urban-deer cull is that they themselves are urban animals — latté-sucking city dwellers with a Disneyfied view of nature.
Which, for the anti-cull crowd’s most familiar face, is as far from reality as the isolated lighthouses in which she grew up.
In fact, being raised amid more animals than people profoundly influenced DeerSafe founder Kelly Carson’s outlook.
Born in Vancouver, she was six when she moved to McInnes Island, 40 kilometres west of Bella Bella, with her younger brother, mother and lighthouse keeper stepfather“I remember the day we landed,” she says. “There was a blizzard. … We had to jump onto the rocks.” They weren’t dressed for the weather, so the fellow driving the boat gave each of the kids one of his mittens.From the ravens who stole her toys to the mink in the garden, animals were her only companions, but no, it wasn’t Disney. She remembers sea lions scrambling onto the rocks to escape the orcas. One fell off. “The water turned red.”
Once, while peering into a tidal pool, she gave little thought to a pod of whales in the distance — until one shot over to check her out, suddenly looming up so close that its dorsal fin filled her vision before it silently sank away. “It didn’t occur to me until years later that I could have been lunch.”
When she was eight, another sea lion pulled onto the rocks, pursued by a commercial fishboat. A fisherman, brandishing a rifle, motioned to her to move out of the way of his shot. She refused. “I just stood there. I wasn’t going to leave.”
She was still eight when the family moved to Egg Island, 55 kilometres north of Port Hardy. It was her home for 11 years. Another family shared lightkeeping duties, but that was it for human contact. “There were never any kids our age.”
The family’s one-month annual leave was usually spent in Vancouver, but for a three-year stretch in her mid-teens Carson didn’t see civilization at all. Instead, vacations were spent boating around the coast.
It was at Bella Bella that she first saw “casual violence” against animals, kids having “drowning races” to get rid of unwanted kittens and puppies as directed by their parents. With no vet to spay and neuter pets and keep the dog population under control, the Mounties would periodically shoot those deemed to have turned feral.
When Carson finally hit the city, moving to Vancouver at age 19, it was culture shock. She couldn’t get used to being in a car, had never owned a television (still doesn’t), didn’t know what people were talking about much of the time. “I would talk about animals and birds, because that’s what I knew, but people’s eyes would glaze over, so I stopped talking about that.”
Carson was still 19 when she had her first child, the second arriving a couple of years later. She persuaded her husband to be a lightkeeper (“I said there would be no Hydro bills and no rent”) and headed for the station at Pachena Point on the west coast of Vancouver Island, soon followed by another at Cape Scott. Lots of mammals this time: bears, wolves, cougars. And deer, of course. When they wiped out her garden at Cape Scott, on the northern tip of the Island, it meant no fresh vegetables for a family whose only other source of food was a supply ship.
In the mid-1980s, when her eldest reached school age, the family moved to Victoria. Carson, who works for the government, has been here ever since.
She was part of the group that relocated more than 600 University of Victoria bunnies to Coombs in 2010. “That experience taught me that we’re not helpless. It taught me that if you organize, you can make a difference.”
When the killing of urban deer came up for debate, she founded DeerSafe, a group that has maybe 10 core members and 80 on the email list. Its members plan to observe, but not interfere, when Oak Bay traps and kills 25 urban deer. DeerSafe has collected more than 4,000 signatures on a petition, though it’s not always a pleasant experience. Even animal-lovers aren’t sold on her cause. “I’ll be standing on a corner and people will come within inches of my face and scream at me.”
She doesn’t enjoy that. Nor does she like speaking to crowds or using the bullhorn, but Carson — a vegan for nine years, vegetarian for 24 — keeps at it because she feels compelled to stand up for her beliefs. “I’m just trying to do no harm.”
Deer Mayor Nils Jensen or whom it may concern,
I urge you to consider that we SHARE this island with these animals. We co-habit, and just because we build on their territory doesn't entitle us to get rid of them. A cull isn't, in fact, the only answer. It is actually an asinine temporary solution. Deer reproduce. Is the plan to cull every spring? Because that would be a solution. This one time slaughter of 25 deer isn't. Please whatever you do, don't embarrass yourself by covering up the real issue by painting a story of consequent "issues" like household pets being injured and next are the elderly and children. That is nothing but cowardice. Of course elderly aren't next. That's a stretch for you to make that jump and quite embarrassing. Animal interaction is natural and should be treated as such, not as a crime. Pet owners need to be responsible. Just because no one owns these deer as pets doesn't mean they should be dealt with senselessly and unfairly. Animals kill each other and while this deer didn't kill the dog, it did wound it which is also a natural interaction. I'm assuming you know all of this as you weren't born yesterday.
Please resist the temptation to cowtow to the small group of wealthy individuals who are having their landscaped, manicured lawns trampled through. You were re-elected on that basis, but trust me, you will gain much more favour at this point by looking for an alternative permanent solution that may cost more and have to be budgeted for. Maybe you can create a fund and get your snobby elitist supporters to pay in you'll have deer free lawns in no time. In all sincerity, I hope you have the balls to do what's right.
To the Elkford Wildlife Committee
Posted: December 23, 2013
Letter to the Editor
I am sad to see the deer cull in the District of Elkford this January 6. I am writing this to say I am extremely disappointed in the way it has come about, as I was a member of the Wildlife Committee this year.
When I joined the committee the deer cull was already planned and approved by the district office and council. The existence of the committee is a mere window dressing. It purported to provide community involvement but this was not true.
I am left with the belief and am extremely disappointed that the committee was one-sided, created to support decisions that were already made. The committee, district council and offices were not open to other viewpoints, ignored other viewpoints and limited public response. I believe that once my opinion was established as being opposite to what the committee was created to prove, my opinions were unwelcome.
For example, I voiced an unwanted opinion about the deer count declining over the past three years from 120 to 70 and the option of doing a hazing in the spring, after the deer had fawned. (This was successfully done in Kimberley.) After that I was not notified of meeting dates or the so called public meeting about the cull and had a hard time getting copies of the minutes which were not complete or at all informative of what actually transpired at the meeting.
The above explains the reasons for my resignation from the committee.
Some good may come for the not-yet-shot wildlife in our community. There is a bylaw that may protect some of the remaining wildlife in the district. I ask you to support this bylaw and put pressure on those expected to see it is enforced – not treated with the disrespect of the democratic procedure that has allowed killing 40 out of the remaining 70 animals in the district.
There are some familiar faces I will mourn when I no longer see them in my neighbourhood on my daily walk with my dog.
Robert MacKenzie, Elkford, Wild At Heart, Wilderness Capital of B.C.
Referendum should be held on deer cull
posted Dec 18, 2013 at 5:00 PM
The deer cull issue will not go away despite attempts by the CRD to brush it under the carpet.
Mayor Nils Jensen seems to be open to taking another look at council’s decision to proceed with the random killing of 25 deer. This letter is to encourage Jensen to provide informed leadership by listening to qualified biologists, the SPCA and the public.
Firstly, I have not seen any supporting arguments for a random killing of 25 deer from an unknown population brought forward by any qualified naturalist. In fact, I have read several reports stating that given the transient nature of Oak Bay’s deer population, deer from other jurisdictions (Saanich, Victoria) will come into our neighbourhoods to fill the void.
Further, a “cull” suggests targeting a subset of the overall population (does, bucks, fawns, sick or injured). The current proposal is to kill 25 at random. It doesn’t make sense to me, unless the overall objective is to kill the entire population.
The SPCA has gone on public record that clover trap/bolt gun with throat slitting follow-up is not humane at all.
If the number of deer is to be reduced, I would like to hear what humane options are available to do so.
Finally, the public needs to support whatever informed decision our representatives may make. Perhaps a referendum on the issue during the 2014 municipal election would allow us all to have a say.
Letter to the CRD from PETA
December 4, 2013
To: Alistair Bryson, Chair, Capital Regional District Board of Directors
Capital Regional District Board of Directors
From: Jodi Minion, Wildlife Biologist/Issues Manager, PETA
Re: Deer management program
Your urgent attention is requested.
PETA is an international animal protection organization with more than 3 million members and supporters globally, thousands residing in British Columbia. We understand that the Capital Regional District is sanctioning the clover trapping and killing of deer in local municipalities in the apparent hopes of controlling the deer population. With utmost respect we must advise that this is a cruel and ineffective form of wildlife control. Every minute spent trapped is a terrifying eternity for these easily frightened prey animals, who can badly injure themselves in frantic attempts to get free. Video of a panicked deer caught in a clover trap can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XezJJNzg3nY. Lethal initiatives also tear families apart, leaving young/weak animals vulnerable to starvation and dehydration.
Please know that lethal methods fail to control unwanted animal populations, and actually backfire. This is because a spike in the food supply results, prompting accelerated breeding among survivors and newcomers. Populations actually increase. Effective deer management plans are adaptive and integrated, the keys being strictly-enforced wildlife feeding prohibitions and habitat modification (e.g., exclusion and deterrents) in residential/landscaped areas, along forest edges, and in restoration and riparian corridors (see attached document). We are happy to advise in greater detail.
May we hear back from you soon that the cruel trapping initiative will be cancelled? Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Wildlife Biologist/Issues Manager
Letter to the editor in response to Elkford's plan to 'harvest' deer
Please don’t kill deer, Elkford. The impending cull is a disturbing about-face from the admirable declaration on your town’s website that “Elkford remains a place where nature prevails – and humanity borrows a bit of space.”
Your committee has worked hard and they’ve followed the advice given in the Urban Ungulate Conflict Analysis written. The town thinks it has an effective “solution” to resolve conflict between citizens and deer. However, the advice was flawed and the “solution” will not work.
There is no biology or wildlife science involved in the decision to undertake lethal population control. In fact, it appears that mule deer numbers in SE BC are in troubling decline and the only places with stable populations are towns. No matter how many deer are seen in un-scientific counts, there is no over-population. In some of our communities, such as Fernie and Grand Forks, it appears populations in town are also decreasing.
We all have natural habitat within and just beyond our boundaries. Ungulates are transient and will continue to migrate in and out of town after culling. In every jurisdiction that culls, it is ongoing and may become an “annual culling program” as it is in Helena, MT, the model for the BC report. Kimberley is talking about culling again – after 100 deer were killed just 2 years ago. The cost increases too – rising from $300 to $625 per deer in Cranbrook in their controversial, secretive program last spring.
BC SPCA wrote recently, “the proposed cull actions are not a scientifically sound or sustainable solution.” And further, “an indiscriminate cull like that conducted in Cranbrook which neglects considerations for gender and age class is unethical and contrary to generally accepted principles of wildlife management.” They saidcommunities “must aim to address the cause of the deer habituation, rather than opt for a convenient, short-term action that will divide its’ citizens”.
The “harvest” of deer in Elkford is not ethical hunting nor is it a cost-effective way to provide meat to food banks. The Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club code of ethics states they have “a deep respect for the game they pursue” and that they will harvest game only in “fair chase”. Last spring, deer meat cost Cranbrook citizens $13 per pound.
Finally, the emotional and social impact of slaughter hurts communities. While we are decorating with artificial deer and singing about Rudolph – council plans a slaughter. The brutal killing method was never devised for wildlife and is considered in-humane outside slaughterhouses.
Elkford, please be true to your theme. With compassion, tolerance and patience you will prove your willingness to share the “bit of space” that is crucial to the wildlife.
Let's Be Responsible
The awful feeling that’s in the pit of my stomach and the heartache that goes along with it is difficult to explain. How can our system fail so badly? Only Invermere land owners are allowed to vote on the deer cull! As far as I know, we all live in this wildlife corridor from south of Cranbrook to north of Golden. How on earth can 729 landowners from Invermere decide on the fate of these beautiful creatures who belong to no one. This valley is much coveted because it is a wildlife corridor and it is here for us all to enjoy and project.
It was in extremely poor taste that something as sensitive as the deer cull was voted on alongside a vote for a new community centre. What kind of a community are you building? What kind of example are you setting? May I suggest a poor one on both accounts? Your 729 votes mean nothing to me — this is ludicrous!
For the past two months, I have personally visited every deer that I could find in the town of Invermere — call it my own personal study. Not one deer was aggressive. Quite the contrary. They all moved away from me, including the bucks. I have counted about 75 deer (if I haven’t counted some twice). I believe this attitude of fearmongering is uncalled for! These are gentle, shy creatures — not predators!
If you are afraid of these animals, it is in your own head. “What I fear most has come upon me.”
Many of us are here in this valley because we love the animals and choose to live alongside them. If you do not like the deer, you should definitely consider moving out of a wildlife corridor.
This is not the responsibility of Invermere council to decide what happens to the deer. Absolutely not!
The answer to this whole mess is so simple: grow up. Take responsibility for your own yard (in other words, put up a fence); quit being lazy and irresponsible; and stop passing your poor behaviour on to the town council to handle — it’s not their responsibility!
Town council is not your mommy or daddy. It’s time to make a decision to build a fence or not! It is up to you. You don’t want your community to be boycotted because of your childish behaviour, do you? Remember, everyone around the world is watching.
Headline should reflect details of brutal slaughter
Published: November 19, 2013 4:00 PM
The headline Bye-Bye Bambi (News Nov. 15) was in my opinion in extremely poor taste.
Seeing that Oak Bay has decided to kill the deer, why not tell it like it is. Young readers may just think the deer are going away and unless they read the story are not aware that they are to be brutally slaughtered in a most horrific way.
It is a shame that council has decided to slaughter some 25 deer, especially when other options are available. I know that relocation is not a viable option but there are others.
Obviously the mayor and council are heeding the cries of a minority who want these so-called nuisances killed. Because a hungry deer wants to take an apple from your tree or a tulip head from your garden is it a nuisance? If I walk into an orchard and take an apple am I a nuisance? The deer are not intent on destroying your gardens, merely trying to survive.
Does council truly believe that removing 25 deer will create a void? Thirty-three were lost to car accidents and where is the void? Although they are trying to make it seem that way, car/deer accidents are not unique to Oak Bay.
It would be prudent for council to contact other towns where a limited number were killed and see how many have returned in their place. From my understanding, many more.
One councillor stated that there are approximately 250 deer in Oak Bay. That equates to about one deer per 40 homes. Is that overpopulation? Hardly.
Maybe a cull is the answer but the method that will be used is extremely inhumane. And the fact there is no discrimination as to age or sex is equally wrong. Do you feel good about killing a young innocent fawn?
Does Oak Bay want to become infamous as the community that killed the deer? Already this story has gone viral and it does not look good for the community.
I could honestly state that there are a lot of very unhappy people living in Oak Bay because of this decision.
Sadly this whole scheme will come to a bad ending for more than just the deer.
George A Barrows
Have We Lost Our Tolerance for Wildlife?
Focus Magazine, November 2013
As I watch a young buck quietly lying down in my backyard or a doe and her fawn munching an apple from my tree or grazing a bush, I can’t help wondering what their fate will be now that the deer “cultural carrying capacity” has been exceeded as some say.
Unlike biological carrying capacity, which has a precise scientific basis, the cultural carrying capacity is a made-up concept which has nothing to do with biology and objective science, and everything to do with human intolerance.
The author of the article “Wildlife, Wild Strife” in October’s Focus listed a number of parameters and data supposedly indicating a “deer problem”: population trends, collision statistics, crop loss information, Lyme disease and complaints are the main ones. Each one of these can be easily refuted.
The estimated deer population mentioned in the article (45,000–65,000) is misleading. Those numbers are virtually the same as three years before and the uncertainty is such that it is not possible to make any conclusion. By comparison, according to Provincial data, the Vancouver Island deer population in the 1960s and ’70s was in the order of hundreds of thousands and therefore it has markedly declined.
Deer-collision statistics are inconclusive at best and the published data tables show ups and downs in the last few years with no clear trend.
As for crop loss information, there is no official data provided by farmers. The survey mentioned in the article is the only non-official document available.
Lyme Disease is not a significant problem in BC and deer are not directly responsible for transmitting the infection to humans.
There were 400 solicited complaints to the CRD in the summer of 2011, which, to this date, remain the only official documented ones from residents. I would hardly call these a “surge of resident complaints” as the writer reports in her article.
The Citizens Advisory Group appointed by the CRD admits in its 165-page report that the evidence is anecdotal and that no reliable data is available.
Despite the obvious lack of objective evidence, the advisory group decided last year that there is a significant increase in deer-human conflict, and recommended that the CRD implement a series of lethal options against our deer.
The two members who resigned from the committee speak of an “irretrievably flawed” and biased process. The advisory group, which included farmers and a bow hunter, was heavily unbalanced in its composition and markedly favoured pro-cull solutions during its meetings. Given these premises, the outcome could not have been any different.
The BC SPCA recently released a very strong statement in opposition to the proposed cull. Here are two excerpts: “An indiscriminate cull which neglects considerations for gender and age class is unethical and contrary to generally accepted principles of wildlife management.” And: “Based on lessons learned from other North American cities dealing with this issue for the past 20 years, the proposed cull actions are not a scientifically-sound or sustainable solution.”
The BC SPCA also encourages the enforcement of existing bylaws and a more comprehensive management including the implementation of non-lethal management actions.
Environment Canada is also quoted as saying: “Lethal control techniques or culls should be a last-resort option and should not come before serious attempts have been made to control the situation through other means”.
The Focus article makes no mention of the results of deer management attempts in other BC jurisdictions:
Kimberley killed 100 deer, only to have the deer count rise three months later. Cranbrook conducted a secret cull in February which infuriated residents from both sides. Invermere’s cull ended abruptly by an injunction and a lawsuit by Invermere residents.
The emotional and social impact involved is evident in other communities, especially where the barbaric and inhumane clover trap/bolt gun method has been used. The pilot project proposed in several municipalities of the CRD is totally unnecessary given the previous experience already acquired in BC and elsewhere.
What about alternatives to lethal methods? Farmers should take responsibility and invest in fencing with the help of the provincial government. Fencing works, especially if you allow a wildlife corridor beside it. In fact, many farmers within the CRD have successfully fenced their properties and don’t have any problems with deer.
In addition to proper fencing and wildlife corridors, there are many other non-lethal measures available to reduce human-deer conflicts such as public education, altering human behaviour to avoid attracting deer, highway reflectors along roads, lowering speed limits and signage. The immunocontraceptive SpayVac has been used in BC in the past and could be available to licensed biologists within a short period of time. In the long term, a more comprehensive management strategy should be implemented instead of a short-term ineffective action.
As for damage to native plants, I am no expert; however, there is no doubt that humans are the most destructive invasive species on the planet and therefore should take responsibility instead of conveniently putting the blame on the innocent deer.
Finally, the image of humans being the “keystone species” who “historically” have the right to decide the fate of any other animal or plant species on Earth is a convenient self-centered attitude which can be and is actually used to justify any abuse of nature in the name of the almighty homo sapiens.
It seems that some residents of our community have lost their tolerance and ability to co-exist with our wildlife. This is of great concern to me, as the very foundation of life in our province and on Vancouver Island has always included nature, our forests and our wild animals.
No attempts made at non-lethal measures
Re: “CRD looks to tame honking big goose woes,” Aug. 27.
In this article, Environment Canada is quoted as saying: “Lethal control techniques or culls should be a last-resort option and should not come before serious attempts have been made to control the situation through other means.”
Really? This approach does not seem to be followed for any wildlife species in B.C. Let’s take the deer, for example. The deer-management committee basically discarded all other non-lethal options and strongly recommended a significant population reduction by lethal means, recommendations that have then been taken up by several municipalities within the CRD. No “serious attempts have been made to control the situation through other means.”
It appears to me that, in reality, the general attitude of the B.C. provincial government toward wildlife is to kill any animals that are considered a “nuisance” and whose “cultural carrying capacity” has been exceeded.
And for that to happen, it seems to be sufficient that a few residents who are personally affected complain loudly to the CRD demanding action.
Many alternatives to a deer cull
July 21, 2013
Re: “Collision with deer proves to be costly,” letter, July 17.Why is it that every time an incident transpires between a deer, or any other non-human animal, and a human animal, the first thought for those involved is that the non-human should be killed?
If you collided with a deer while driving your motorcycle, do you think it would make a difference to all the other deer if a cull takes place? Will they suddenly begin to look out and be more aware of those innocently driving along corridors designed for their vehicles, while the deer’s own green corridors and habitat are continuously invaded and destroyed?
Please do not say you “have to support a cull” because relocation is not an option. Clearly there are a multitude of other options that we have been trying to expose the public, municipalities and CRD to for over a year now. We have been stonewalled again and again. It takes as little as five minutes on our website to get informed.
A cull will only lead to more culls. It is neither evidence-based nor effective, and will most likely lead to a larger population of deer. You can see what the B.C. SPCA had to say about it on our website.
It is a question of our capacity to give greatly of ourselves as a society that we may overflow with compassion for those who will not change, and demand more courageous behaviour from ourselves to change, so that others may flourish.
DeerSafe Victoria Opposes Trap and Kill Pilot Project
To the the CRD Chair and Members of the Board of Directors,
Mayor and Council of Oak Bay,
Mayor and Council of Central Saanich:
DeerSafe Victoria strongly opposes the use of any lethal control measures for deer management in the CRD. We reinforce our firm position following the recent motions passed by the District of Oak Bay, Central Saanich and North Saanich Councils. We agree with the official letter from the BC SPCA of June 28, sent to Oak Bay Mayor Jensen and council.
During the June 24, 2013 Council of the Whole meeting in Oak Bay one councilor claimed that there are 250 deer in Oak Bay, a number that does not indicate an overpopulation. A DeerSafe analyst concludes that this would represent 1 deer per 40 private dwellings.
The CRD pilot project, which is intended to test the clover trap/bolt gun killing method in Oak Bay and Central Saanich by destroying twenty deer, is ill-advised. This is an experiment that would produce an unecessary strain upon residents who are opposed to trap and kill, also known as “Capture and Euthanize.” DeerSafe Victoria recommends that CRD Directors telephone the mayors and councilors in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere to satisfy their curiousity about the trap and kill methodology. The Regional Deer Management Strategy budget is $150,000. The last cull conducted by Cranbrook cost the taxpayers in that city $625 per deer. The RDMS funds would be better spent on solutions rather than a “pilot project” that has already been undertaken in other British Columbian jurisdictions.
The indiscriminate killing of deer regardless of gender, age and health status is, as stated by the BC SPCA, “unethical and contrary to generally accepted principals of wildlife management.”
Other jurisdictions in North America, specifically in BC, that have undertaken the approach of culling their deer populations have found no success. Kimberley clover trapped 100 deer in the winter of 2012, only to have their deer numbers increase three months later. As stated in the letter from the BC SPCA, the proposed cull actions are not scientifically based and sustainable, especially in a transient urban situation. More deer would move in to take the place of those removed, so culls would have to be repeated annually at great cost to taxpayers, unless the real causes of deer-human conflict are properly addressed.
We strongly advocate non-lethal solutions for deer management. In addition to proper fencing, wildlife corridors and public education, we recommend exploring and using the immunocontraceptive SpayVac, which could be available to licensed biologists within a short period of time. In the long term, a more comprehensive management strategy should be implemented instead of a short-term ineffective action.
On behalf of DeerSafe Victoria
Many humane choices in dealing with deer issue
The BCSPCA position on relocation of deer: Due to the high mortality and fatal injuries that result from the stress of capture and transportation, relocation is not a viable option. Mortality is also high due to capture myopathy and naivety to new predators.
If the past year has taught us anything, it's that the deer are here to stay. As the CRD municipalities rattle their sabers for a deer cull, everyone is forgetting some key lessons learned in the Kootenays when Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere culled a total of 149 deer by clover trap/bolt gun in the winter of 2012.
Kimberley killed 100 deer, only to have the deer count rise three months later. This year Kimberley has undertaken a pilot project to implement aversive conditioning (hazing) with trained dogs.
Cranbrook tried a secret cull in February, planned during in-camera meetings, and will receive a backlash by their voters. Even those who were pro-cull were furious at the high-handed behaviour of the council.
And then there's Invermere. Their cull was ended abruptly by an injunction and a lawsuit, brought by Invermere residents. A BC Supreme court judge will rule on the legality of the deer management process that Invermere undertook - a process that every community with a deer management committee has undertaken in this province.
Considering a cull as the only solution to our interaction with deer demonstrates a lack of imagination and compassion. We are forcing an evolution upon the deer who have no choice but to live among us.
Let's try to evolve along with them, with the intelligence that we so often give ourselves credit for. The list of humane alternatives is a long one, with technology advancing every year: immunocontraception, fencing, altering human behaviour to avoid attracting deer, highway reflectors along roads, planning for wildlife corridors in development, lowering speed limits and signage where deer are known to cross, etc.
The knuckle-dragging solution: Kill them.
Kelly Carson Victoria
BC SPCA opposes deer cull in District of Oak Bay, B.C.
June 29, 2013
The BC SPCA has reached out to the mayor and council of the District of Oak Bay, B.C. in opposition to the proposed deer cull in the region. You can view an excerpt of the letter below, sent June 28, 2013.
The BC SPCA strongly opposes a proposal made by the District of Oak Bay, B.C. to use lethal measures to control deer, as this is not a sustainable or evidence-based option, in particular for this type of urban area.
Oak Bay has no means of accurately estimating a transient deer population, a population that moves in and out of adjacent municipalities by crossing the street. Decades of wildlife studies on culling activities show that removal of animals in such a transient system only creates a ‘sink’ territory for more animals to move into. An assumption that road kill trends correlate directly to increases in deer populations is scientifically dangerous and negligent.
If there are specific individual deer that have demonstrated aggressive actions towards humans in Oak Bay, these individual animals should be treated like any other aggressive bear or cougar, and removed by the Conservation Officer Service. However, an indiscriminate cull like that conducted in Cranbrook which neglects considerations for gender and age class is unethical and contrary to generally accepted principles of wildlife management.
The BC SPCA recognizes that the District of Oak Bay is at a crossroads as certain residents demand some type of action to deal with deer concerns in the area. Yet, based on lessons learned from other North American cities dealing with this issue for the past 20 years, the proposed cull actions are not a scientifically-sound or sustainable solution.
The BC SPCA strongly opposes the District of Oak Bay’s cull proposal and encourages transparent and representative community consultation on the issue, the enforcement of existing bylaws, and regard for a more comprehensive management strategy including the implementation of non-lethal management actions and dedicated resources to measure their effectiveness. Oak Bay must aim to address the cause of the deer habituation, rather than opt for a convenient, short-term action that will divide its’ citizens.
June 26, 2013
Dear Mayor & Council,
I attended the meetings of June 12 and June 24. While listening to the individual speeches and the discussion (or rather lack of it) which followed, it was painfully clear that the Councillors did not do their homework to the extent that I was expecting them to in this case. Here are the main reasons:
One Councillor was not even familiar with the term “cull”.
Another Councillor could not see why we shouldn/t use the bolt gun for deer since we commonly use it for slaughetring domestic animals. If she had researched the subject and read the literature also submitted to Council before the metting, she would know that “Captive bolt guns are designed for use on restrained domestic animals in highly structured and controlled environments. These guns were not designed for use on wild animals under any circumstances”. The reason why this method is not recommended for wild animals is that they struggle and move unpredictably after being trapped for hours so one shot is often not enough so it is necessary to use the bolt gun repeatedly and then the animals need to be killed by exsanguination anyway. From this brief gruesome description it is obvious that this method cannot by any means be considered a “humane” practice and in fact it is strongly and widely criticized by various international organizations. I would have expected Council to be aware of this by now after all the discussion, newspaper articles and e