Thursday, July 25, 2013

Four municipalities and two aboriginal groups want a cull "pilot project"

Greater Victoria municipalities sign up for deer-reduction pilot program

Times Colonist
July 24, 2013
A buck makes himself at home in Fairfield on July 12, 2013.  Photograph by: BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist 

Four municipalities — Oak Bay, View Royal, Central Saanich, North Saanich — and two Saanich Peninsula aboriginal groups are interested in participating in a deer-reduction pilot project, the Capital Regional District environmental services committee heard Wednesday.

Charitable organizations have asked to be considered as potential recipients of deer meat, committee members heard in a report from staff.

A mock-up of a brochure drew sharp criticism from Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, who expressed frustration over the inclusion of mule deer on the publication.

“We don’t even have mule deer on the Island,” he said.

“The CRD has been looking pretty stupid lately, and this doesn’t help.”

But Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson, a veterinarian, said the black-tailed deer on the Island are a sub-species of the mule deer.

“There is no error as far as I can see, but there is the potential for confusion,” Bryson said.
The brochure says sage brush is a source of food for mule deer.

“The mule deer have a different diet because they live in a different area,” Ranns said.

“This is a public document and people are going to be looking at it and saying what kind of dummies are we, putting this kind of stuff out?

“I’m just suggesting that it’s time we stopped looking like dummies around here.”

Staff said the text and images on the brochure were provided by the B.C. Environment Ministry and the brochure would be revamped to reduce confusion.

Friday, July 5, 2013

B.C. SPCA speaks out against Oak Bay deer cull

 Published: July 04, 2013 5:00 PM
Updated: July 04, 2013 5:26 PM
Following Oak Bay council’s support of a partial cull of urban deer, the B.C. SPCA voiced strong opposition to the strategy.
In a letter to council, an excerpt from which was posted to the B.C. SPCA’s website on Saturday, the organization wrote that using lethal measures to control deer populations is “not a sustainable or evidence-based option, in particular for this type of urban area.”
“By conducting a cull you’re just going to have other deer moving into the territory,” said Sara Dubois, the B.C. SPCA’s manager of wildlife services.
A more appropriate measure, she said, would be to target individual animals that have shown aggressive behaviour toward humans and have them removed by the provincial Conservation Officer Service, similar to a problem bear or cougar.
The urban deer issue in Greater Victoria, and specifically Oak Bay, has created tension in the community between frustrated homeowners and gardeners who support lethal action to reduce the population, and those who support more humane methods or doing nothing.
While certain people have called for action to be taken soon addressing the perceived problem, Dubois said, the B.C. SPCA would rather investigate what is causing deer to stay in pockets of Oak Bay and other areas in greater numbers than in past years.
She pointed to a Winnipeg study on urban deer that included tracking certain animals with GPS. It found deer congregated in certain areas because they were being fed by humans. In recent years some areas of southern Manitoba jacked up the fines for feeding deer to $500 to try and combat the problem.
Oak Bay’s bylaw prohibiting the feeding of deer – adopted in January 2010, it also includes racoons and feral rabbits – is complaint-driven, but has resulted in just one call and no tickets issued in the past six months. The fine is $50.
As Oak Bay prepares to work with the CRD on a limited cull situation using a capture-and-euthanize method, anti-cull advocates remain active around the region.
Kelly Carson, spokesperson for advocacy group Deersafe, said the CRD has received a petition containing 1,631 signatures of residents opposed to the use of a Clover trap and bolt-gun method to reduce the urban deer population.
Members of the volunteer group, who supported an anti-cull rally at Oak Bay municipal hall last week that attracted about 200 people, continue to attend various community events to secure more names for their petition.
“We’ll be here until the humane solutions are implemented and they stop talking about a cull,” Carson said.

Monday, July 1, 2013

BC SPCA opposes deer cull in District of Oak Bay, B.C.

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.