Friday, October 7, 2016

'They shot them all'

The waters of wildlife management and protection are so muddy even provincial employees and directors don't know where responsibilities lie in decision-making processes. Email them about responsibilities and/or accountability and you will be as confused as they are. Add wildlife as agricultural animals to the confusion, and you see a recipe for disaster.

On Thursday, October 6, 2016 twenty seven deer were gunned down on a deer farm in Vernon, BC. The wildlife veterinarian for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations ordered the killings, saying “As far as the animals are concerned, the case is closed.” Ms Schwantje “who works with a number of government ministries” is a consultant with the Ministry of Agriculture when that ministry has no clear guidelines.

Wildlife as agricultural animals are in a dangerous position while Ministeries shuffle responsibility. The result on October 6 was the mass slaughter of 27 animals by gunfire.

Kate Bouey - Oct 7, 2016 / 9:15 am

An Enderby farmer is blasting the “heavy handedness” of government for shooting dead almost all of the deer on his property, Thursday. A ministry veterinarian confirmed the action.
“It was a circus here,” said Richard Yntema of Valley Wide Meats, who owns Rivers Bend fallow deer farm. “What they did was total cruelty.
“They thought they could use tranquillizer guns, but they got tired and they blasted away. I lost track after 75 rounds were fired."
Yntema said the officials included members of the B.C. Conservation Officers Service and the ministries of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
The farmer admitted he had failed to comply with regulatory issues under the Game Farm Act.
Yntema said he believes the main issue has been old trees falling on fences that allowed some deer to escape onto neighbouring properties.
“Certain ministries allowed my neighbours to shoot them at will. I don't know which ministries,” Yntema said.
He points directly at officials from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources for Thursday's slaughter.
“They ran out of ammunition and then asked the Conservation Officers Service if they could use theirs,” Yntema said.
“It was basically a police lockdown. They harrassed my customers and put a checkpoint on my driveway.
“They drove over my crops, damaged fences and some pipes. I'm told I can file a claim for compensation, but I have no idea who to talk to.”
A B.C. government wildlife veterinarian confirmed that 27 deer were shot by officials yesterday while two females were successfully removed alive.
"This farmer used to have a permit under the Game Farm Act for holding fallow deer but ownership has reverted under the Wildlife Act," said Helen Schwantje, who works with a number of government ministries. "Conservation officers were mandated to enforce the act and went in with a warrant."
Biologists and officials from Ministry of Agriculture were also present with the job of removing the deer, Schwantje said.
“Our concern was that these animals would escape and set up a population in the area and damage the habitat. We wanted to make sure we dealt with it before it got any worse.”
Schwantje said capturing any deer is an “incredible challenge” and fallow deer are extremely skittish.
While the goal had been to capture the animals alive with anesthetic darts, only two females were successfully tranquilized and removed while 27 others were shot dead, she confirmed.
“There was no way to herd them safely onto a trailer. We were really stuck.”
The farmer had been given opportunities to remove the animals to a licenced establishment, Schwantje said.
“Unfortunately this man has not been in compliance” with the regulations, she said, adding that the deer had been allowed to escape and there had been complaints from neighbours and some habitat damage.
As far as the animals are concerned, the case is closed, said Schwantje.
She said any charges against the farmer would come from the Ministry of Agriculture or the Conservation Officers Service.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Leading Survey from Oak Bay

Oak Bay conducted a Satisfaction and Priorities telephone survey of 400 residents recently, followed up by an online survey, now available until October 21, 2016.

Buried in the online Satifaction and Priorities Survey's many questions regarding parking and recreational opportunities are one to three questions concerning urban deer.  Answering “no” to the question “Do you feel there is an overpopulation of deer in the District of Oak Bay?” will take you to questions concerned with other topics.  

Answering “yes” will bring up this window:

Answer “strongly support” (or possibly any other multiple choice answer; our researcher did not attempt other answers) and you will receive this window:

In contrast, volunteers began delivery of a Deer Activity survey on October 1, 2016 to 1,100 households for the city of Esquimalt. Developed by an independent consultant, the 24 question survey “will help determine the extent of deer activity in the community, and residents' perceptions and attitudes regarding deer.”

The Esquimalt survey may be returned via postage-paid envelope, or online using a unique number on each paper version delivered to households, ensuring that the survey may only be taken once, and only by Esquimalt residents.

Results are scheduled to be presented to council at their December 12, 2016 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Hunting Revenue the BC Liberals Don't Brag About

Most British Columbians would have no reason to peruse the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Operations website to look up their Hunting and Trapping Synopsis.  That's because most British Columbians don't kill wildlife for fun and profit.

The following are some of the advertisements from the 2014-2016 Hunting and Trapping Synopsis that the BC Liberals have received revenue from.  The claim that hunters are conservationists who care very deeply about the animals that they target falls on its face with the very first advertisement.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dog Caught in Leghold Trap on Vancouver Island

Pets caught in leghold traps is a more common occurrence than most realize, rarely covered by mainstream media. Lynne Cracknell, whose dog was injured by a leghold trap near Campbell River, BC, was not expecting to be wrestling her pet out of a vice-like trap when she was out of a walk in February.

Her horrific experience didn't end there.  At her meeting with Conservation Officer Steve Petrovic she learned that trapping wolves on Vancouver Island is more prevalent than the public knows, and the rights of the trapper (not wildlife, not public safety) is the focus of BC's conservation office.

This is her story.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Conservation Officer Destroys Black Bear Cub

The first in a series regarding the BC Liberals' attitudes toward BC wildlife.  A picture will emerge of a government with a cavalier attitude towards those who are considered a "resource," and the favours they do for hunting friends who have found a source of income - killing urban deer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oak Bay cuts $30,000 for deer management from budget

In a 4-3 vote, Oak Bay has dropped $30,000 for deer management from its budget.
“It really means that in 2016 there will be no deer management program in Oak Bay, and we’ll have to see what we do for 2017,” Mayor Nils Jensen said.
Instead, the municipality will budget $10,000 for a public survey on attitudes and awareness of urban deer and any leftover costs from last year’s deer management program.
Jensen and councillors Hazel Braithwaite and Kevin Murdock were in favour of a $30,000 budget item to create a yet-to-be-defined municipal deer management program, while councillors Tom Croft, Michelle Kirby, Tara Ney and Eric Zhelka were opposed.
Council had previously accepted the principle that the municipality had a role to play in urban deer management in partnership with the province, Jensen said.
In 2015, Oak Bay conducted a cull of deer, which prompted protests and saw 11 deer trapped and killed over a 16-day period.

In 2015, Oak Bay conducted a cull of deer, which prompted protests and saw 11 deer trapped and killed over a 16-day period.   Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Divided council agrees to manage deer

By Christine van Reeuwyk – Oak Bay News
posted Mar 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Whatever a plan may look like, Oak Bay will tackle deer in its boundaries.
In a lengthy conversation surrounding a grant request for the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s proposed Deer Plan Oak Bay, Coun. Kevin Murdoch nailed down the answer to a question he presented in January.

Sitting as committee of the whole, with Mayor Nils Jensen and Coun. Eric Zhelka participating via conference call, council agreed to pursue deer management “in partnership with the province.”

The second portion of the motion, which is a recommendation to council and would require adoption, refers to the responsibility for deer, which falls under the purview of the province.

It’s the main reason Coun. Michelle Kirby opposed the motion. “We’re at capacity,” she said, reiterating her stance the province should tend to its deer.  Zhelka also opposed the deer philosophy following nearly three hours of discussion.

“We’re turning our back on science,” Zhelka said.

In a bid for funding, UWSS board member Ralph Archibald outlined the society’s proposed Deer Plan Oak Bay during the March 21 meeting.

The five-point multi-year plan includes: effective public education, population model, survey of attitudes, deer abundance estimation and immune-contraception. The 2016 budget would require $38,000 funding from Oak Bay and $20,000 potentially available through the Ministry of Forests lands and Natural Resource Operations. Though the application deadline has long passed, municipal staff indicated the province seemed positive at the concept of an Oak Bay proposal.

The cost to the district for the entire five-part proposal for 2016 would be about $38,250.

Assuming $20,000 annual funding from the province, UWSS would need $27,500 a year from 2017 to 2020 from Oak Bay.

“We believe we’d see a reduction in human/deer conflict,” Archibald said. “We believe this would be positive action. there would be very little draw on staff time.”

Murdoch posed the question: “How do we determine the right number of deer?”

“The right number of deer will be defined by the citizens,” said Archibald.
“We don’t know the answer to the question because we haven’t asked it (of the community). There may not be a need for us to do anything. That’s a possibility,” he added. “We’re not in a position to say at this time … that there is categorically a need to reduce the number of deer that are here.”

That sentiment troubled Jensen, who contends the ecological damage alone signifies a need to reduce the number of deer in the community.

Bryan Gates, president of UWSS, suggested Oak Bay could be at “biological carrying capacity” – the maximum population the environment can sustain indefinitely.

“We have no evidence this population is growing, we have no evidence it’s declining. I believe we’re at biological carrying capacity,” he said. “We would like to work with you for the scientific information.”

Coun. Tara Ney, who felt the proposal was “well thought out, and it makes good common sense,” moved that Oak Bay contract UWSS to conduct a sampling survey of attitudes in the community at a cost of $17,250.

Jensen asked, and Archibald confirmed, if information and survey suggested a cull is warranted and wanted, the society would not support that.

“We want to know all the options are possible,” Jensen said, adding that includes relocation and cull as well as immune-contraception. He also voiced concern over perceived bias should the society, a proponent of immuno-contraception, be contracted to conduct the survey.

The contracting motion failed and wasn’t followed up by any other suggestions regarding UWSS funding. However, council, sitting as committee, agreed unanimously to have staff bring back a “high-level report” costing out an attitudes survey during Estimates where they discuss budget.

“This does not mean we’re not partnering with UWSS at all,” Murdoch said in response to Zhelka’s concerns.

Estimates meetings are scheduled for April 6 and 13 at 5:30 p.m. at municipal hall 2167 Oak Bay Ave. The next council meeting is Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m.

Oak Bay council has agreed to manage deer, but what that will look like is still unclear.
— image credit: Jennifer Blyth/Oak Bay News