A DeerSafe Victoria rally Saturday ratifies the group’s commitment to stopping any proposed culls in the region.
The event was in anticipation of a report to the Capital Regional District on its deer management strategy, including the pilot cull project in Oak Bay last month.
“Now is the time, we feel, to bring this out to the public and say we know what you’re going to be doing behind our backs and we’re frustrated,” said Kelly Carson of DeerSafe Victoria. “The rally is often a good way to get them to pay attention when not all of us can take time off from work to speak to their meeting.”
Carson says they’ve used their allotted minutes to speak to municipal councils and the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee for the past three years, only to be ignored.
“It’s been utterly frustrating … We’ve been left using ‘public spectacles’,” Carson said.
In Oak Bay’s pilot project completed last month, a 16-day cull netted 11 deer. Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen called it a success, proving a cull could take place in an urban environment and mild temperate climate. The CRD’s deer management strategy, including the cull, will be reviewed with a report expected on the April 22 agenda for the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee.
“By then they’ve finished their exploration of this … with no feedback from those who are opposed. That’s how it’s been the last three years,” Carson said. “It’s extremely frustrating for us who don’t want to see this again in the fall.”
They selected Centennial Square in Victoria as a central location between the legislature (the province issues any licence to cull its wildlife) and Victoria City Hall, citing Mayor Lisa Helps’ prior statements that the city would participate in a cull.
Helps stands by that statement, particularly in light of the deer meat being distributed to local First Nations as was done in Oak Bay.
“Doing nothing is not an option. At the same time it’s not the responsibility of the city. The mandate would come through the CRD,” said Helps.
“Local First Nations have been hunting deer since before any of us arrived here, and if we can have a win-win where deer are used for food as they have been for time immemorial. … I fully support using a local food source to feed some of our most impoverished residents.”
Carson contends the cull process is inhumane.
“This is animal cruelty, we know it… sitting on a wild animal and putting a bolt gun to its head is cruel,” Carson said.
In Oak Bay a contractor used modified clover traps placed on private properties – capturing and killing seven bucks and four does.
“As always, I’m open minded. If there are more humane ways to kill the deer then let’s hear them,” Helps said. “We can’t have people running around with rifles in Victoria. Urban hunting is an oxymoron.”
Carson said most municipalities have not demonstrated serious deer/human conflict mitigation efforts – required by the province before a cull can take place – such as public education, a public survey, signage and lowering speed limits in known wildlife crossing areas.
DeerSafe will continue “diligently following the individual municipalities,” Carson said. “We’ve got work ahead of us and we won’t be letting go of this.”