Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Safety at the Heart of Deer Control

posted Apr 29, 2014 at 10 ;00 AM Victoria News

In the fall of 2013, Oak Bay council agreed to participate in the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Deer Management Strategy pilot program. We did so at the urging of hundreds of residents who expressed concerns over the growing number of black-tailed deer on our streets and in our neighbourhoods.

Public safety is of paramount importance. In the absence of any natural predation, the deer population has increased dramatically, and as a consequence, so are the incidents of deer/human conflict on the rise.

In 2012, 23 deer died, mostly as a result of collisions with vehicles. Some were so badly injured that they had to be put down by our police officers. In 2013, these numbers grew to 40, and already in 2014, we have had 10 deer fatalities. To put this into perspective, in May of 2013, six deer deaths were recorded. The trauma involved for these habituated deer, and for the people involved in these incidents, is a great concern for council, and for Oak Bay citizens.

The responsibility for wildlife management in British Columbia rests with the provincial government, and in speaking recently with the provincial wildlife veterinarian, she confirmed that the challenges we face in Oak Bay, in municipalities throughout the Capital Region, and in communities across the province, are increasing in intensity.

We ask all Oak Bay residents to actively focus on conflict reduction throughout our pilot program. If population reduction is warranted, we will be following the direction of those professionals within the provincial government who have the expertise and the authority in these matters. 

The goal of the CRD Deer Management Strategy pilot program is to reduce deer/human conflict.

In today’s Oak Bay News you will find two CRD brochures, we ask that you review them both with your families and your neighbours. Learning to live safely and sensibly with urban deer is a responsibility that we must all share. These are wild animals – they are not pets.

Over the past months, Oak Bay has strengthened municipal bylaws to discourage deer from settling in our neighbourhoods, These changes include increased fencing height allocations and increased fines for feeding deer. Fines of $300 will now be levied for feeding deer in Oak Bay. In addition, we are continuing to support deer resistant planting choices in our park and garden areas, and we are employing the use of deer repellents to make it unpleasant for the deer to forage. Actions that discourage the settlement of deer are important components of the CRD Deer Management Strategy. Oak Bay’s participation in the CRD Deer Management Strategy is outlined on our municipal website at 

How to deal with the growing number of black-tail deer in our urban communities is a complex and emotional challenge. Becoming factually informed, and taking preventative actions are important first steps. 

While it is clear that deer do not respect municipal boundaries and our efforts would be much more effective if we were working collaboratively as part of a regional response strategy, it is our hope that Oak Bay’s willingness to step forward will create a better understanding and elevate the complex public safety issues involving human/deer conflict in urban communities. As the year unfolds, Oak Bay council will continue to hear from residents, and we will continually re-evaluate our deer/human conflict mitigation measures.

Your safety – the safety of your children, grandchildren and pets – will continue to be our first priority.

In the coming weeks, does will be giving birth to fawns – usually twins. Does are very protective of their young and can act aggressively. We ask that you be cautious when out enjoying the warmer weather and longer hours of daylight. The burgeoning population of deer in our community means there will be more deer on our roads, so please take particular care when driving.

Nils Jensen
Oak Bay Mayor

Saturday, April 26, 2014

District of Invermere Advertises for Cull-Friendly Properties

Now that they have decided to cull thirty deer annually with a budget of $30,000 per annum, the District of Invermere has run this advertisement in the local newspaper. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Deer Irritant in Oak Bay

The witch hunt known as the Regional Deer Management Strategy took further steps this week when what was meant to be a covert deer count was begun in Oak Bay by CRD staff, accompanied by Mike Webb of West Coast Problem Wildlife Management.

Even though a call to by-law revealed that no deer feeding complaints have been recorded, and no fines have been imposed, Oak Bay council recently raised the fine for feeding deer from $100 to $300 for a first offense, $500 for subsequent offenses. Fines for feeding racoons and rabbits remain at $100. Inadequate care of companion animals, inadequate shelter of companion animals and cruelty remain at $50. A vicious dog fine is $200.

Oak Bay staff tallied the costs associated with "deer removal and disposal," and found that the costs merit a fine increase. According to this logic everyone who plants a garden and refuses to fence it is feeding deer, including city beautification plantings of petunias and tulips.

The aim of the $12,500 deer initiative is to appease the residents who have been complaining that deer are eating their gardens. The deer count that has taken place over the past two weeks is intended to help the CRD and Oak Bay create a plan, which will include a deer cull as early as September.

Oak Bay will find some stumbling blocks along the way, however.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations only issues deer killing permits for the months of November to March. November municipal elections will probably be very bad timing for a mass slaughter of deer in the CRD.

And then there is the rumour that the Ministry will not lend their clover traps to Oak Bay due to concerns of vandalism. In 2011 the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations paid $15,000 for ten deer traps, two bolt guns and a plastic sled to bleed out the deer. Communities in the CRD that have expressed an interest in a clover trap “pilot project” (Oak Bay, View Royal and Central Saanich) may be viewed as too risky for the loan, since public opposition to these culls has been very vocal.

The witch hunt began with an invitation via the Times Colonist from the CRD to residents to write in to a designated email address with their complaints about deer in early 2011. It progressed with a Citizen's Advisory Group that included a bow hunting lobbyist (and in which two appointees resigned citing “an irretrievably flawed process”), and an online survey that was not even given honourable mention in the CAG's RDMS report.

It would seem that the biggest headache for the levels of government that have tasked themselves with the appeasement of gardeners and careless drivers isn't the opposition to culling or even the deer themselves. Their lack of meaningful research into non-lethal human/deer mitigation methods and best scientific practises has given way to knee-jerk political positioning. If only they could remember what is at the heart of this irritant – animal abuse and society's response to out-of-control change for us all.

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Read

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oak Bay Deer Count Under Way

The CRD began a deer count in Oak Bay the week of April 7 – 11. Taking part in the count are three CRD employees, including Jeff Weighman, two animal control officers, and Mike Webb who owns West Coast Problem Wildlife Management, a local business with only a cell phone number to contact.

Forty four deer were seen this week during early morning counts. Can they prove that the same deer weren't counted more than once?  Next week the counts will continue in the evenings.