Friday, August 24, 2012

"Aggressive Deer" Hysteria Comes to Victoria

Bambi fights back

A Victoria woman who was chased by an aggressive deer last week is afraid to walk in her own neighbourhood.
Mary-Jo Morin, a Rockland neighbourhood resident, said she was walking her dog Aug. 14 on Rockland Avenue when a deer came within a metre of her and exhibited extremely aggressive behaviour.
“I started screaming, my neighbours came out and chased it off,” Morin said, adding the incident is the fourth encounter she’s had with what she believes is the same animal and her fawns.
“If she had got me with her hooves or my dog, we would have been really badly hurt,” she said.
Morin called a provincial conservation officer, who attended the area but was unable to locate the deer.
“He asked me to take a picture of the deer next time. I said that would be a bit difficult because I was running away from it,” she said.
Conservation officers rank calls by the level of risk to the public, and with only one officer on shift in the Capital Region at any given time, bear and cougar sightings tend to take priority.
“We’re getting a lot more calls about aggressive deer, but so far, nobody’s been injured by them,” said conservation officer Peter Pauwels. “Some pets have been attacked, but no people have been injured.”
Pauwels said conservation officers have only two options with deer – kill them, or leave them alone.
“We don’t move deer,” he said, adding that tranquilization only occurs when an animal is confined to an area, such as when cougars climb a tree.
“If it’s a serious threat to public safety, we’ll have to put it down. But in 20 years on the job, I’ve never heard of a deer attacking a person,” he said.
The Capital Regional District’s 10-member deer management committee is nearing its Sept. 5 deadline for a final report on how to deal with urban deer. The public input component of the process closed Wednesday, which will be included along with technical information in the committee’s recommendations.
“My feeling is now that it’s probably not going to be a case (where) the board gets the final report and then quickly makes a firm and final decision. I suspect there will be a lot further discussion,” CRD chair Geoff Young told the News.
Morin hopes the CRD can come to a conclusion so she can regain a sense of safety in her neighbourhood.

“We went through the bunny situation (at the University of Victoria), it took them years to resolve that. Now, there are so many deer around that you can’t walk anywhere. I’ve started carrying a golf club,” she said.

Culling will not stop poor business practices that displace the deer.

Prevent deer damage with fencing, hedgerows

By Natalia Kuzmyn, Times Colonist August 23, 2012

Re: "Deer taking costly toll on hard-hit farmers' fields," Aug. 21.
If I had a business property worth a few million dollars without protective walls to prevent looting, most would say I was inviting trouble. I would also be declined insurance coverage for failing to uphold good business practices.
Take the farmers who incur losses on crops, rather than preventing deer damage by fencing or hedgerow installations. Just as we relate to common boundaries like walls, fences or signage, one can communicate to deer with barriers they understand. Farmers once did this with roses or fruit-bearing hedges, but since the rise of intensive farming, focus became crop yields rather than ideal growing conditions.
Following a forest clear-cut, deer have no protective shelter. They relocate to woodlands inevitably slated for development. Because developers are allowed to level woodland without leaving a proper deer barrier with food they like, everyone notices more deer, then cougars and wolves who must follow their prey. Culling all invaders becomes the hot topic, unless of course, the etiology is addressed. But we keep leaving that for future generations.
Demanding such ecological soundness from gainful ventures of the privileged is long overdue. Until then, farmers should expect to protect their efforts from trespassers like any savvy business person, without resorting to short-term cruel solutions that, in the long run, cost as much or more than some fencing.
Culling will not stop poor business practices that displace the deer.
Natalia Kuzmyn, Oak Bay

Monday, August 20, 2012

Invermere Council Feigns Fear of the Invermere Deer Protection Society and Closes it's Deer Committee to the Public

Columbia Valley Pioneer, August 17, 2012

In brief: District of Invermere
Pioneer Staff
At a Committee of the Whole meeting on July
31st, Invermere Council voted to keep future meetings
of the town’s Urban Deer Management Advisory
Committee private, in order to protect members
from disruptions from the public.
All of the minutes of the deer committee will come
forward for the review of the public at four quarterly
Committee of the Whole meetings. The decision to exclude
the public from regular deer committee meetings
was designed to keep the group progressing.
Considering the way that the Invermere Deer
Protection Organization has handled itself in the
past, I don’t think it would be helpful to have them
show up and be very disruptive to the committee,”
said Councillor Paul Denchuk.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Critics of deer cull in Cranbrook, B.C. say effort targeting wrong deer

Bill Graveland, Saturday, August 11, 2012 12:00 AM

A sign in Cranbrook, B.C. warns about aggressive deer in this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The city has culled 25 deer and are aiming for 50 more in 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland
A sign in Cranbrook, B.C. warns about aggressive deer in this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The city has culled 25 deer and are aiming for 50 more in 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland
CRANBROOK, B.C. - Oh deer!
Several signs have been placed throughout the City of Cranbrook, in southeastern B.C., that may at first appear a little out of the ordinary.
"Aggressive deer in area. Please use caution," the advisory warns in bold capital letters.
Mule deer have been blamed for significant property damage and for attacks on pets. Many of the problem areas are greenspaces near schools which adds to concern that children could be attacked.
But the signs are also a symbol of the divide between those worried about safety and gardens and those who say a city cull not only isn't working, it's killing the wrong deer.
Last November, Cranbrook culled 25 deer, 11 of them whitetail and 14 mule. It was the first of three Kootenay communities, along with Kimberley and Invermere, to carry out a cull with a license from the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
"The general feeling from the public was it was a real issue, public safety was sort of number one as well as yard and garden damage. People were having their gardens destroyed," explained Chris Zettel, corporate communications officer for the City of Cranbrook.
But the move has not been without criticism and animal welfare is always an emotional issue, he said.
"With deer we kind of commonly refer to it around here as the Bambi syndrome. People have this sort of Disney view," said Zettel.
"If you're that type of person and you're walking down the street with our dog and a doe comes out of the bushes and stomps your dog or kills your dog you might change your mind quite quickly."
The initial pilot project didn't go as smoothly as hoped. The mule deer were considered the problem but the traps had snagged almost as many whitetail deer, wrote Dave Dunbar, head of Fish and Wildlife Section in the Kootenay-Boundary Region, for Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
"I'm somewhat disappointed at the number of whitetail deer the contractor is killing; clearly whitetail deer are not the priority in Cranbrook," Dunbar wrote in an email to the city obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Earth Animal Rescue Society.
"I am disappointed to see the primary goals of the Cranbrook Urban Deer Committee stray so far from the target. We may find that the concern for "Human Safety" might not be improved."
Wildlife biologist Irene Teske also expressed her concerns in a Dec., 2011 email.
"The only reason we included whitetailed deer in the permit from the Minister was in case a few were caught incidentally. I suggest that any other whitetailed deer captured in the traps be released if it is safe to do so."
Zettel acknowledged that in the last year the city has been on a learning curve.
"That's something between the city and the province we're sort of grappling with to try and figure out if we can alleviate that if we move forward again in 2012."
Cranbrook City Council has approved another cull to remove up to 50 mule deer which was supposed to begin this fall.
But a legal challenge of a similar cull in Invermere, B.C., is now before the B.C. Supreme Court and that may prompt Cranbrook to put its cull on hold.
"I think there's an appetite here perhaps to maybe stand back and wait and see what happens with the court case involving Invermere," said Zettel.
"If this report comes back and says the process is good and they can continue fine. But if it's a flawed process and we need to change things — if we have to wait a year or two then that's what we would have to do, but again that's up to council to make that decision," he said.
The founder and chairman of Humane Treatment of Urban Wildlife agrees that the high number of deer in Cranbrook is a problem but said a cull is not the answer.
"The deer count numbers from March 2012, which show an increase, demonstrate why the 2011 cull did not work so I don't understand why we're still stuck pursuing this," said Colleen Bailey.
Bailey, who is a member of the Cranbrook Urban Deer Committee, said other options could have included relocation, higher fences to protect gardens and yards and finding ways of keeping the deer outside the city.
"The deer are going to be constantly drawn in to where there is safe haven and shelter. All the cull is doing is creating a perpetual cycle of killing."
The contractor captures the deer in clover traps, a netted cage which collapses on top of the animal. He then uses a bolt gun which is placed to the head to kill the deer.
Bailey said that is anything but humane.
"Two contractors jump on them and hit the deer in the head with the bolt gun - one gun usually doesn't do it and the deer still isn't technically dead," she said.
"Their brain has stopped but their hearts continue to pump so the contractors have to take the deer, throw it in the back of the truck and slit its throat to bleed it out. People are horrified by that when they hear about that."

A Michigan Farmer Uses Innovative Fencing

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

FOI Request reveals a small number of farmers (18, including one who refused to identify the farm) in Saanich who favour a deer cull.

Pinewood Farm
Star Hill (maybe)
Gobind Farm
Munro Farms
Hexenwald/Killdeer Hill
Stewart's Berry Patch
Vantreight Farms
Silver Rill
Michell Brothers
Ireland Farms
Mar Farms
Hazelmere Farms
Saanich Christmas Tree Farm and Woodstock Evergreens Inc.
One farmer who did not identify the farm's name
Elk Lake Farm
Bear Hill Blueberry Farm
Bailiwick Farm
Saanich Organics

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Looking for July 24 CAG Meeting Minutes?

If you are looking for the July 24, 2012 Citizen's Advisory Group's meeting minutes they are posted to the CRD website as August 1 minutes.

Not mentioned in the August 1 meeting agenda: wildlife biologist Ray Demarchi of Cranbrook and Helen Schwantje, wildlife veterinarian for Ministry of Environment attended.