Thursday, March 12, 2015

Oak Bay’s ‘quite successful’ deer-cull toll 11, Mayor Jensen says

A deer cull in Oak Bay has been completed with 11 deer killed, said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
The mayor announced this morning that the controversial cull was completed at the end of February with 11 deer — seven bucks and four does — killed.
I see it as quite successful in that just under two weeks we were able to capture and euthanize 11 deer,” Jensen said.
The mayor credited the success of the program to residents who offered their properties to place traps, city staff and the contractor Ron Kerr.
The cull is part of a $150,000 Capital Regional District deer-management pilot project.
Oak Bay volunteered to be the first municipality to run the pilot program. Oak Bay’s share of that $150,000 is capped at $15,000.
This is a pilot project so part of the reason to go through this was to see can this be done in a densely populated urban community and how can it be done,” Jensen said.
After deer advocates asked people to come forward if they saw traps, several property owners volunteered their properties for the pilot project. “We’re grateful for the residents who offered up their yards and homes,” Jensen said.
A report will be given to the CRD at the end of March. It will go through the planning and protective services committee and then to the CRD board. A report will also go to Oak Bay.
Oak Bay’s “learning experience” with the pilot project can now be used to inform other municipalities in the CRD, Jensen said.
One lesson learned, Jensen said, was that it was more difficult to attract deer given the greater abundance of food sources in a coastal climate which was compounded by an early spring, Jensen said.
By the time the municipality had its permit and contract in place, it was February and the contractor had just 16 days to carry out the cull.
The cull period is set by the province based on the birthing and gestation cycles of deer, Jensen said. White-tail fawns are born in late spring.
The permit allowed for a cull of 25 deer.
If it was run over three months we would have easily been able to achieve 25 deer,” Jensen said.
Oak Bay’s mayor never expected 25 deer to be caught over the two-week period or that that number would bring the deer population in Oak Bay down to what he views as a manageable or historic number.
Meanwhile, an urban deer cull in Cranbrook stopped suddenly March 6 after four traps on private property were vandalized a day earlier and rendered useless.
Oak Bay cull opponent Kristy Kilpatrick said there was “zero suggestion” of vandalizing traps in Oak Bay.
People just want to know that the deer have a witness and are frustrated that if, as the provincial vet and the mayor and CAO [chief administrative officer] of Oak Bay have said, the procedure is humane, why this is all so shrouded in secrecy.”
Oak Bay’s cull contract specifies that the traps, roughly the size of a double hockey net, must be checked for deer every 24 hours and baited every evening.
Oak Bay’s mayor said the contractor in charge of the cull is an expert who has been cited by the BC SPCA for his good work.
Some residents and deer advocates also expressed concern about the lack of news about the cull but Jensen said this was to maintain safety and order around the cull.
DeerSafe sent out more than 5,600 notices to Oak Bay and area households asking to be notified of any evidence of the deer cull so they could make a video recording.

- with files from Katherine Dedyna

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