Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dock Side Fawn is Safe for Now

We received word tonight that the fawn who was presumed dead for three days is safe and back to bouncing around at the Dock Side Green site. Apparently we should have trusted the doe to be the good mother that she is, to have moved her little one from imminent danger.

The alarm was raised, quite understandably, by CRD residents who have grown fond of the deer that have been living behind the plastic-lined chain link fence that surrounds the property. The three day absence of the fawn after the activity of heavy machinery was a legitimate cause for concern by observers. The situation for this small herd will continue to be a serious concern as the construction of Dock Side Green progresses.

As this deer family loses it's foothold on this safe place, and they are pushed further into Victoria West and Esquimalt, there will be residents who will observe them and will assert that the deer population is exploding. Three hundred new residential units are to be added to Vic West during the next construction phase. Three hundred new residents will be noticing a deer presence. Not all of them will be happy about that. The municipality of Esquimalt has voted to cull deer if 75% of the CRD municipalities agree to this method of “deer management.” The fate of the Dock Side deer will be intertwined with the policies of both Vic West and Esquimalt.

This little fawn is not out of the woods yet.

For myself, I have learned the difference between the teats of a doe who has recently nursed and those that are milk engorged.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Tragic Tale of the Dock Side Deer

A small herd of five deer (three bucks and two does) have been living on the unused land that is awaiting another phase of the Dock Side Green development in Vic West. They eke out a living among the condominiums and the industry on the Gorge, keeping to themselves and avoiding cars when they cross Tyee or Bay Street to slip between the plastic-lined chain link fence. Behind that fence they have found sanctuary. Waving grasses and blackberries, and probably best of all, privacy, due to the security fence and the warning signs that read “These premises protected by video surveillance.”

A difficult exsistence, to be sure. But they are a young herd, and they have never known life in a forest. They are what are currently termed “urban wildlife.” A designation that acknowledges their exsistence, but in no way assures them of a right to life.

On May 23, 2014 some residents in a highrise overlooking the Dock Side site emailed DeerSafe to advise us that they had been watching a new fawn. Well hidden by her mother during the day, the little one was very active whenever the doe was present. Bouncing with youthful exuberance she would follow her mother, at times daring to stray a few yards to examine something new. Always, obediently, staying for hours where her mother put her while the doe left to forage during the day.

Her safe place became unsafe on May 27. A gravel company came to the site and began to move the piles of rocks and gravel. One resident approached the workers to advise them that a fawn was in the area, and pointed to the place were the young animal was hidden. The workers said they were aware of the fawn and they would be working in an area opposite to her. One worker “joked” that “he could always shoot it.” The next day they moved the rocks and gravel on to that very spot.

The highrise across from the site affords residents a panoramic view of the Dock Side Green site. Within hours of the gravel having been moved the doe was noticed, looking agitated. The fawn has not been seen for 48 hours.

Tonight I found the doe grazing on the Gorge side of the site. When she turned away from me I saw that her teats are painfully swollen.

The burgeoning developments in our region are inviting an ever growing human population, and with them come ever more roads and loss of natural environments. Lofty ideals of ecologically sound development, such as Dock Side Green, cannot be possible without a contigency plan that protects the indigenous residents of the area. One tiny fawn no longer scampers among the grasses at the Dock Side Green site. For many of us, her life was noticed. For her mother, her life will be sorely missed.

Dock Side Green has been contacted in writing and in person. The name of the gravel company they subcontracted is not currently known. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deer-cull plan is ill-advised - Karen Levenson, Animal Alliance

Times Colonist May 6, 2014 01:16 PM

Oak Bay council’s decision to sign onto the Capital Regional District’s deer-management pilot project to cull 25 deer is ill-advised. The two main issues surrounding the deer — that deer eat garden plants and that they cross roadways, posing hazards to city drivers — can be solved more effectively and humanely than with a deer cull.
It is understandable that Oak Bay residents and officials want a “magic bullet” solution that will put an end to strife with deer. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet.
Oak Bay, like other communities in B.C., subscribe to the misconception that getting rid of deer will get rid of human-deer conflicts. It is an expensive mistake, one that has proven disastrous in other municipalities. Nature abhors a vacuum; removing deer will only allow those remaining to increase their offspring and will open the door to neighbouring deer.
Humane, non-lethal solutions exist. But, first, councillors need to address the conditions that attract the animals. Enforcing local bylaws that prohibit feeding deer is key, as is getting residents to protect their gardens by planting deer-resistant plants and by using protective fencing around vulnerable species.
Properly constructed roadway fencing can keep deer off hazardous stretches of road and will funnel them to wildlife crossing structures such as raised deer crosswalks or toward less dangerous crossing locations. The main solution for preventing driver-deer collisions, however, is city-wide education to help residents learn how to drive in deer-populated areas. Warning signs indicating deer crossings, speed limit reductions and defensive driving in heavily deer-trafficked areas will all be more effective in reducing deer-human conflicts than will culls, which studies have shown do not work.
Last, immunocontraception is emerging as one of the best humane options for communities that determine they must have fewer deer.
With so many options available to deal humanely and effectively with residents’ concerns about deer, city council must take a step back from its ill-informed sign-on to a deer cull and consider what is best for, if not the deer, then for residents who demand humane solutions to wildlife conflicts. Doing anything less could harm not only the deer, but their own electoral careers.
Karen Levenson
Director of wildlife issues, Animal Alliance of Canada