Friday, March 29, 2013

To Cover the Cost of Moving the Beacon Hill Rose Garden, a Private Citizen Offers $160,000

Briefly mentioned in this article, a private citizen has offered $160,000 to move the Beacon Hill Rose Garden.  Many thanks to the individual who has found a peaceful solution to the people problem that our deer are having!

"Deer were among the first animals kept in the Beacon Hill Zoo, which began in 1889 and, according to the Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society, a deer was the last zoo mammal to leave the park about 100 years later in 1990."

How times change.  In 100 years deer in Beacon Hill park have transitioned  from a valued zoo specimen into a reviled pest.   Fortunately, due to current by-laws that allow parks and industrial areas to fence up to 10 feet, the new rose garden will be surrounded by an eight foot fence.


Beacon Hill rose garden could be moved to fend off deer

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist
March 29, 2013
Beacon Hill ParkÍs rose garden could be moved.  Photograph by: BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist
For years, there were fences in Beacon Hill Park to keep deer in.

Now, Victoria councillors are considering relocating the park’s historic rose garden and erecting a fence to keep out deer.

Deer are in the garden eating the plants, said Doug DeMarzo, manager of parks planning and design.
Under a proposal endorsed by the city’s community development, environment and infrastructure committee, the rose garden — established in the 1930s and in its current location since the 1980s — could be moved to a nearby perennial shrub bed and grassy area. The existing garden site would be replaced with an arboretum — a garden devoted to trees.

If approved by Victoria council, an eight-foot fence would surround the relocated rose garden. But that might pose a problem.

A city bylaw specifies residential fences can be no more than six feet high. Fences surrounding parks or industrial areas can be 10 feet high for security, said DeMarzo, who hopes an eight-foot rose garden fence will be allowed without the need for a security report because it is meant to control a pest — deer.
DeMarzo said city parks crews tried many deer repellents, including blood meals in the beds, but nothing worked. Other institutions in the region face the same problem, he said.

“Government House has two rose gardens and they’ve tried a number of things, from blood meals to bone meals to garlic spreads over the years, and they’ve finally given up. They are also in the process of fencing,” DeMarzo said.

The proposed black-wire fence would be hidden as much as possible by shrub plantings, he said.
Victoria director of parks and recreation, Kate Friars, told the committee the city might have to consider more fencing around ornamental plants.

“The rose garden, we know, has been browsed and eaten probably for the last four or five years. It’s wide open with easy access. So those are the kinds of decisions that are going to have to be made.”
Deer were among the first animals kept in the Beacon Hill Zoo, which began in 1889 and, according to the Friends of Beacon Hill Park Society, a deer was the last zoo mammal to leave the park about 100 years later in 1990.

Relocating the rose garden first came under consideration a couple of years ago, DeMarzo said. Now, a private citizen has offered to cover the cost of about $160,000, he said.

The new rose garden would be smaller and circular with concrete walkways, pergolas and arbours. The size of the beds would be reduced to about 1,900 square feet from 2,200 square feet. The existing perennial bed would be halved to accommodate the roses.

“This will allow our gardeners to maintain other areas of the park to a higher standard,” DeMarzo said.
“Since the introduction of the non-pesticide bylaw, I wouldn’t say we’ve struggled, but we’ve been challenged to keep up to the weeding and stuff in some of the other beds in the park. So we think this will free up some more staff time.”
© Copyright 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Victoria groups still divided on urban deer issue

Today in the Greater Victoria area, deer roam the streets and neighbourhoods, feeding off residents’ gardens and vegetables

Feral deer, like this one in a Gordon Head driveway, have become a serious issue, prompting some Victorians to call for a cull.
Today in the Greater Victoria area, deer roam the streets and neighbourhoods, feeding off residents’ gardens and vegetables. There were between 45 000–65 000 deer on Vancouver Island in 2011 according to B.C. Ministry of Environment estimates, out of 99 000–155 000 in the entire province. A controversy has arisen over how the Capital Regional District (CRD) may appropriately deal with the deer. The CRD is currently moving ahead with a deer management plan, implemented in December 2012, that includes public education, fencing and increased bag limits for deer hunting, among other measures. The CRD has been conducting meetings with Peninsula municipal staff and councils over the last two months, and Central Saanich Council has asked its staff to look into the use of sharpshooters and the feasibility of placing bounties on deer.
The deer debate continues amongst Victoria residents.
Valentin Schaefer, a UVic environmental studies professor who studies urban ecology and biodiversity, believes deer behaviour in Victoria has changed. “It looks as if the deer are becoming urban exploiters. Initially, they were urban adaptors,” he said. “It is not only how they adapt to our presence — they actually can exploit our presence and increase their numbers correspondingly.”
Victorians have encroached upon and destroyed many of the deer’s initial habitats, leaving the deer no choice but to adapt to people. Victoria resident Susan Bourjeaurd said, “Our neighbourhood has a lot to offer a deer: lots of food, protection and no predators.”
Strategies for restoring balance may include reintroducing predators, culling or relocating the deer. A deer cull is a divisive topic: some believe it is unnecessary and inhumane, while others see it as the only option.
“We are in essence, by doing a cull, replacing the predators,” said Schaefer, “like the coyotes and the cougars, and taking their role. It will be ongoing.” He says a cull of the deer in the area may not solve the problem; it will just manage the problem for now.
Kelly Carson is involved with DeerSafe Victoria, an organization that tries to save deer and come up with humane ways to deal with them. “Through our own research,” said Carson, “we discovered that every problem with deer has a technologically advanced solution that does not involve killing. Fencing, road deterrents, wildlife corridors, repellents and adverse conditioning called ‘hazing’ with trained dogs, to name a few.”
According to Schaefer, many local nurseries sell deer-deterring flowers. He says fencing gardens and being more cautious on the roads are a few simple options that will prevent further unfriendly encounters.
The CRD’s Regional Deer Management Strategy has noted that public support for a deer cull is “average in the agricultural geography, relatively low in the rural geography and low in the urban geography” of the CRD.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Several farmers in Saancih are working to implement more relaxed hunting by-laws in Saanich, Central Saanich and North Saanich. They want the deer that wander onto their properties destroyed – or as one farmer said in a recent Global interview – “we gotta get something working this year in order to take the animals down.” Among the expectations of these farmers who refuse to fence is an arsenal that includes bowhunting, sharpshooting, establishing a bounty on deer and clover trap/bolt gun killing.

 These few vocal farmers have portrayed themselves in the media as necessary to life on Vancouver Island. They have not attempted due diligence with their own businesses by fencing their crops. They continue to ignore the CRD taxpayers who do not want their tax dollars spent on a mass slaughter of deer.

During one of the 2012 Citizen's Advisory Group meetings one farmer suggested that “food security” was vitally important if the island was ever cut off from the mainland. It was not mentioned if the airport was destroyed in this make-believe scenario, or if ships were unable to land here. Of this I am sure - these small farms will not stand between the Capital Regional District's 350,000 residents and certain starvation in the event of a Hollywood-esque catastophe.

How many deer do the farmers want to kill in Saancih to protect the crops that they have steadfastly refused to fence? They don't know – they don't even know how many deer there are.

A cultural carrying capacity is the maximum number of individuals of a species that the human population will tolerate. This tolerance will vary from community to community. What will satisfy these few farmers? Do they want the deer to disappear from their sight entirely? How will that affect the biological carrying capacity of deer on the surrounding properties?

Taxpayers of the CRD are not being provided with answers. Research was requested by two Citizen's Advisory Group members in the spring of 2012. After weeks of non-commital responses from CRD staff, ridicule and eye-rolling from the facilitator (brought in from Vancouver) and other CAG members, they quit the committee siting “an irretrievably flawed process.”

How many deer are going to die in Saanich?  The cull proponents don't know.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Organic Does Not Mean Compassionate to Some Small Farmers

Comment: Deer cull part of creating a healthy food system

The current discussion on deer populations has raised questions about how organic farmers deal with this problem.
Certified organic means living in balance with nature. It means caring for the soil, fostering environments for pollinators and beneficial insects and choosing plants that do best in our ecosystem. When balance can’t be achieved though cultivation practices, it also means reducing pest populations using the least ecologically harmful means available.
We do kill deer. We fence first, and we have spent more than $20,000 fencing our properties with industry-standard fencing. We spend hundreds of hours combing the fence lines, repairing where the deer have broken through and shoring up where the land has eroded or compromised the security of the fence line. We do this religiously, and we do this first, because it is the easiest option.
Fencing sounds simple, but the nature of deer make it a hard task. Populations of deer around our farms have increased a great deal in the 15 years we have been farming in the area. There are few  predators (cougars and bears) left in this region, so deer populations are not kept in check. As they get hungry, they become persistent. They squeeze through gaps in fences that are a few centimetres wide and they dig underneath. It is a frustrating and time-consuming task, and when deer get in the fence, it is hard to flush them out of a partly forested property.
A recent study done in Central Saanich found the average yearly net farm income was less than $10,000. Factoring in the time and materials for fencing and maintenance cannot simply be a cost of doing business. No government funding is available — B.C. spends the least money in support of agriculture in Canada, next to Newfoundland, which has almost no agriculture.
Our local certified organic standard is among the most sustainable of any in the world. If consumers choose to buy imported produce rather than locally grown, they are not preserving habitat or saving deer, but simply shifting these challenging questions to other jurisdictions. 
We are convinced that Vancouver Island certified-organic food, although it may involve some deer deaths, is overall a far more humane and sustainable option. We prefer not to export exploitation and environmental destruction by buying food produced elsewhere that is grown with dubious labour and environmental standards. By keeping our food system local, we can ensure best practices if and when deer killing becomes necessary. By bringing the discussion out into the open, we can involve qualified First Nations hunters, and the deer can become part of a healthy food system.
We will continue to explore many options for deer control. In the meantime, we continue to believe passionately that eating local, certified-organic food is the best thing we can do to make our food system more humane and sustainable for the whole ecosystem.
Robin Tunnicliffe and Heather Stretch are farmers and owners of Saanich Organics.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Activists call for boycott of farms that cull deer

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist March 4, 2013 Animal-rights activists are taking aim at Saanich Peninsula farmers and politicians looking to step up hunting to protect their crops. An online petition against expanded hunting as a crop-protection measure has been launched on the Facebook page Boycott B.C. Deer Kills by Peter Hamilton of Lifeforce, a non-profit Vancouver-based ecology organization. Hamilton is also calling for a boycott of produce from farms that use lethal methods to control deer. “Most people would not make the connection that buying organic fruits and veggies could result in deer being killed,” Hamilton says in a letter to Central Saanich councillors. “Some Vancouver Island organic growers want this massive slaughter. Some won’t even fence their crop lands and won’t implement other non-lethal controls.” The awareness campaign started by Lifeforce comes in the wake of recent Central Saanich council decisions encouraging hunting to assist farmers in protecting their crops from deer. Central Saanich council has asked staff to investigate opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations use of sharpshooters for deer, a bounty for deer killed under a population-reduction program and support for First Nations deer harvests. Staff have also been asked to come up with a bylaw allowing public deer hunting and another prohibiting deer feeding. Last week, Peninsula farmers were encouraged to attend a workshop on regulations governing hunting to protect crops. Lifeforce suggests there are several alternatives to hunting, ranging from fencing to chemical or natural repellents and scare devices such as noisemakers and flashing lights. “There are numerous non-lethal methods that could be applied on a case-by-case basis. But one of the main ways to keep deer away from crops is to put a fence around your property. That should be the cost of business,” Hamilton said. The Lifeforce petition encourages people to shop only at guaranteed “deer-friendly” farms. Susan Vickery of Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society plans to launch a “deer-friendly” campaign June 1. Vickery is looking for funding to host workshops on non-lethal methods of combating deer. “I’m going to target the agriculturalists — mostly landscapers and gardeners around the area. It will be setting up real demonstrations — sort of the embedded-learning concept,” Vickery said. In his letter to council, Hamilton noted that former Central Saanich mayor Jack Mar, a farmer, complained in a broadcast interview about the cost of fencing, which he estimated at $2,000 to $7,000, depending on whether he did it himself. “Fencing to stop attracting deer to the food should be part of the cost of doing business. Instead, some want to kill all the deer for eating some veggies? This is further wildlife mismanagement,” Hamilton said in his letter. He warned that “this Wild West ‘bounty’ mentality” runs the risk of triggering an international boycott of Victoria. In fact, Mar said in an interview, the properties he’s farming are too narrow to allow hunting, so he is erecting fencing where he can. “I can’t shoot in any of the properties because it’s just too narrow on the properties, with the setbacks where you can discharge a firearm,” Mar said. “I can’t shoot. Period. I have to fence.” © Copyright 2013