Deer In The News
The Capital Regional District is reviewing ways to deal with deer. Photograph by: BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist
At Greater Victoria’s ground zero for deer-farmer conflicts, councillors want to look at using sharpshooters and putting a bounty on deer.
As municipalities consider what steps they are willing to take to control deer, Central Saanich council has edged beyond recommendations from the Capital Regional District’s deer-management strategy.
The council has asked staff to investigate opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations use of sharpshooters for deer, a bounty for deer killed under a population-reduction program and support for First Nations deer harvests.
Councillors also voted to work with the CRD and province to investigate limited use of single-slug and projectile firearms for shooting deer, instead of pellets, and to ask the province to amend hunting regulations and deer bag limits for crop protection.
Central Saanich staff have been asked to come up with a bylaw allowing public deer hunting and another prohibiting deer feeding.
Responsibility for bylaw and rule changes is split between municipalities and the province. The CRD is co-ordinating some of the response to a growing concern about deer eating and damaging crops, and munching through gardens.
The CRD, which will be given a deer management strategy update Wednesday, has acknowledged that approaches are likely to differ in agricultural and urban settings.
CRD staff have met with representatives from the province as well as municipal staff from North Saanich, Central Saanich and Saanich to look at the best ways to implement a deer strategy — paying particular attention to solving deer problems on farms.
CRD chairman and Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson said the recommendations in his municipality followed a meeting with farmers.
“We are relaying the concerns about the urgency and the need to move forward in light of the growing season,” he said.
Safety is the first concern if the municipality moves ahead on sharpshooters or relaxed hunting regulations, Bryson said.
Deer-protection groups believe Central Saanich is going too far.
“These are pretty drastic recommendations. A bounty is going back to the Dark Ages — people will think they can make a few bucks — and sharpshooters are dangerous for the public at large,” said Val Boswell of DeerSafe.
Fencing and establishing wildlife corridors make more sense, she said.
Susan Vickery of Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society said no studies have found an abundance of deer in any specific area. “They want a bounty on deer when there may not even be an over-population issue,” she said.
“All these people are getting over-excited and saying something has to be done. Good fencing is as far as it needs to go. This is excessive.”
At a North Saanich council meeting Monday night, staff were recommending against a controlled public hunt, saying that if councillors were to endorse deer population reduction measures, they should be related to crop-damage mitigation or First Nations hunting.
Staff recommended that council amend its firearm bylaw to sanction bow hunting and to allow farmers to hire hunters to carry out crop-protection hunting on their behalf, and that a bylaw that prohibits feeding wildlife be considered.
North Saanich staff worried that a capture-and-euthanize program would be too costly for the municipality to take on alone, but said it would be worth considering as a regional or provincial program.
Saanich staff are also drafting a report about the deer issue.
© Copyright 2013
City moving ahead with deer cull
Posted: February 14, 2013
The City of Cranbrook has decided to act on a wildlife permit issued by the Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations in late 2012 and has approved a cull of up to 30 mule deer, it announced today, Feb. 14.
“After much careful deliberation council has approved the reduction of the urban deer population by up to 30 mule deer by focusing on several key areas of the community, based on complaints received both by the city and by the Conservation Officer Service,” states a city press release.
The announcement was anticipated by BC Deer Protection Coalition (BCDPC), which today launched a public campaign attacking the city’s decision and is advertising ways the public can help it “stop the slaughter of these beautiful animals.”
In a press release issued Feb. 14, before the city’s announcement, the BCDPC accuses the city of plotting to conduct a secret cull.
That release followed a Feb. 12 meeting between Colleen Bailey, a spokesperson for Humane Treatment of Urban Wildlife (HTUW) and a member of the BCDPC, and Devin Kazakoff, spokesperson for the Invermere Deer Protection Society (IPDS) and BCDPC member and Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski, where they asked for an update on Cranbrook’s urban deer situation.
Bailey and Kazakoff told e-KNOW the mayor appeared “caught off guard” by their question, provided some vague answers and startled them with an admission that a council decision concerning culling would be made in-camera (behind closed doors).
“We asked a very simple question; will the City of Cranbrook be culling deer this spring?” said Bailey. “It is either yes they will or no they will not. Why can we not get a simple answer?”
In its release, the BCDPC states, “According to Mayor Stetski, Cranbrook council will be meeting behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny to decide how to proceed and what to tell Cranbrook residents and the broader public about a deer cull.”
Bailey, who said she was the only “deer voice” on Cranbrook’s Urban Deer Committee before being replaced last year, suggested, “Perhaps we will have our questions answered tomorrow after the secret council meeting. But given how city officials have refused to answer our questions, I would not assume anything.”
Calling a cull “cruel and regressive,” the BCDPC new release notes, “Cranbrook voted to conduct a second cull in the spring of 2012 but in October Cranbrook officials announced that the cull was on hold pending the Invermere court challenge.
It continues by pointing out a Vancouver Sun (October 6, 20 12) article in which Stetski expressed concern about repercussions if court finds fault with Invermere’s methods since Cranbrook relied on the same public involvement process.
“Now, despite the Mayor’s concerns, rumour has it that Cranbrook council plans to cull deer over the next few weeks,” the release states.
E-KNOW asked the city for comments on the BCDPC press release but has yet to receive answers. However, it concluded its press release on the cull announcement by stating: “Due to concerns around public safety raised both by the RCMP and council, the city will not at this time be providing any additional details surrounding the population reduction activities. The city will provide a comprehensive review to the public once these activities have been completed.”
Kazakoff told e-KNOW he is mystified at how the city can proceed with a “secret deer cull,” when council must pass a resolution to apply for a provincial government permit and pass another resolution in order to conduct a permit.
He suggested an excuse for council making the decision in-camera might be because of the pending legal battle between the District of Invermere the IPDS as a reason, but waves it off as “unrelated.
“The more important question remains unanswered,” added Kazakoff. “Why was the mayor worried about Invermere’s court case in October 2012 and not in February 2013? Nothing has changed. Our case is moving forward. We will likely never know because Cranbrook has discussed this controversial cull behind closed doors and without taxpayer’s oversight. Cranbrook residents will be footing the bill. They deserve to be part of the discussion.”
Plastic plant pot stuck around fawn’s neck near Ten Mile Point
Judith Lavoie / Times Colonist
February 5, 2013
Ten Mile Point resident Michael Yu took this picture of a young deer with plastic around its neck last weekend near Phyllis Park in hopes of getting help for the animal. Photograph by: MIchael Yu
Ten Mile Point residents are being asked to keep tabs on a young deer with what appears to be a plastic plant pot stuck around its neck.
The deer, sometimes accompanied by its mother, has been spotted around the area for about three weeks. Some residents initially thought the black bands around the animal’s neck were part of a radio collar.
The plastic is getting tighter as the fawn grows, but, for now, the animal is still able to eat. That’s a problem, because while it is alert and healthy, it will be difficult to track and tranquilize, Conservation Officer Scott Norris said.
“We probably won’t jump into it right away, because when it’s mobile, it’s pretty difficult to tranquilize and remove [the pot],” he said.
“I hope we can catch up with it and cut [the plastic] off at some point.”
Anyone seeing the deer is asked to call 1-877-952-7277 if the animal appears to be in distress or slowing down, Norris said.
If the deer is injured, it is young enough that it could be taken to the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin for treatment. Wild ARC, operated by the B.C. SPCA, does not take adult deer because they panic when confined to pens and will hurt themselves.
Photographs of the deer were taken last weekend near Phyllis Park in Wedgewood Point by resident Michael Yu, who wanted to get help for the deer.
“I saw it again yesterday around 6.10 p.m. at the west side of Wedgewood Estates,” Yu said. “What is going to happen when the deer grows up and it has that round its neck?”
Yu said he enjoys seeing deer in the area and does not want the fawn to suffer.
“I love the deer. They come along the street, the whole family, and have a nap. So cute,” he said.
Jordan Reichert of B.C. Deer Protection Coalition said deer face numerous hazards in the capital region.
“We get a lot of people distressed about injured deer, such as deer hit by cars or a bow and arrow,” said Reichert, whose group is lobbying for a province-wide ban on bowhunting after animals were recently found to have spent weeks suffering from severe injuries.
If the animal is injured or is being harassed, police or a conservation officer should be called, Reichert said.
If it is not injured “we usually encourage people to leave it alone,” he said.
Deer Poacher Returns to Saanich
No second deer cull on the way for Invermere
By Kate Irwin
Invermere council will not seek a second deer cull until the results of the lawsuit against the municipality are known and the public have been further consulted, mayor Gerry Taft has stated.
With a lawsuit looming in late January and no further solutions put forward by the province for management of Invermere’s urban deer population, the District of Invermere has no current plans for further action to control the number of deer in town, he added.
“There is definitely no desire to apply for any cull permits or take any action pre-lawsuit,” Mayor Taft said. “The outcome of the lawsuit dictates how we will proceed with deer management afterwards.”
Devin Kazakoff, president of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, which is suing the district, confirmed the group will be moving ahead with their trial against the District of Invermere. The court date is set for January 30th and the group is seeking public donations to help fund their legal action.
“We’re setting out to dismiss the bylaw put in place in August 2011 to reduce deer numbers in town to 50,” Mr. Kazakoff said. “We challenge how [council] came to the conclusion that we need to reduce their population.”
The group, established in January 2012 in reaction to the planned 100-animal deer cull, is also seeking to have recommendations adopted by council from Invermere’s Urban Deer Advisory Committee thrown out by a judge. These recommendations included a trap and cull program, relocation of deer during spring 2012, and an ultimate goal of reducing the urban deer population in Invermere to 50 deer by 2014.
“A lot of residents love the deer and want to see them protected,” Mr. Kazakoff said.
If animals must be removed from the community, his group proposes non-lethal solutions, including relocation and driving the animals out of town with trained dogs. Neither solution is currently permitted by the province of British Columbia.
The news the lawsuit will continue comes shortly after a volunteer group concluded the third deer count of the year to establish population figures. The number of animals recorded ranged from 185 the first weekend to 220 on the second count, with numbers dropping to 148 on the final weekend.
The discrepancy in numbers from the final count was likely due to poor weather, said Stan Markham, a member of the Urban Deer Advisory Committee involved in the count.
“We did three counts on consecutive Saturdays in November,” he added. “The figures were pretty much what we were expecting … The method of counting we use fairly accurately ensures no animals are counted twice.”
The numbers will be used to determine the biological and cultural carrying capacity of deer in Invermere, Mr. Markham explained.
The biological carrying capacity is the maximum deer population that the environment within the District of Invermere can sustain indefinitely. The cultural carrying capacity is the maximum number of animals the human population will tolerate — a point of some debate between the municipality and the group bringing the lawsuit against them.
Members of the Invermere Deer Protection Society were invited along to observe the final count on November 24th. In the past, the group has publicly criticized the method of conducting the count and the necessity behind it.
“We don’t agree that counting the deer is necessarily the way to go,” Mr. Kazakoff said. “They don’t have an objective as to why they are doing the count.
“We also question the methods of counting: it’s not accurate at all.”
The deer count was carried out by a total of 38 volunteers, who were paired up and each given one of seven areas of town to survey deer numbers in. The Wilder subdivision was found to have the largest numbers of mule deer, with the only whitetail deer spotted in CastleRock Estates and Athalmer.
Volunteers drove every street and alley in Invermere over a two-hour period, counting by foot in areas inaccessible by vehicle, and noted down the species, gender and age of animals spotted. But the deer protection society president argues that counting by vehicle does not produce accurate results.
Mr. Markham agrees that the counters will not see each and every animal, as participants do not enter backyards or crawl down into gullies to check for animals there, but said that this only serves to slightly underestimate numbers of deer in town.
“You can be relatively certain that we never over-count; there are always more deer than we see on the days of the count,” he said. “When counting the borders of each area, the groups walk the boundary together. It makes the possibility of counting animals twice very minimal.”
The Invermere Deer Protection Society, which claims on its website to speak for “the people of Invermere” is vehemently opposed to the killing of any deer and has publicly criticized Invermere’s mayor and council for what they say was inadequate public consultation before the original deer cull took place.
Mayor Taft counters that when the public were consulted via survey in January 2011, little negative feedback was received from the community, indicating that the protection group may not speak for the majority of residents.
“Going forward, a public survey or referendum is key because this is such a heated topic,” he said. “I think the direction has to come from residents, then the responsibility for decisions is one shared by the whole community.”
Farmer counts deer, geese as friends
Judy Lavoie , Times Colonist December 16, 2012
Deer and geese can be prevented from munching through crops if farmers work with their natural patterns and behaviours, says a successful Blenkinsop Valley organic farmer.
Farmers throughout the Capital Regional District are struggling to stop deer and geese destroying crops. Some farmers are closing fields or reducing crop varieties, and the CRD board is preparing strategies to deal with the animals.
But Nathalie Chambers of Madrona Farm has deer corridors, where deer are fed leftover veggies, and fields where geese snack on winter cover plants, leaving behind droppings to enrich the soil for next year’s crop.
“We love the deer in this area. They even sleep in my greenhouse sometimes. It’s like a homeless shelter,” said Chambers, who farms the 10-hectare property on Blenkinsop Road with her husband, David.
Bucks gather in the two-hectare corridor and appear to have bachelor parties, Chambers said.
As a bonus, a parcel that was sold to Saanich as an addition to Mount Douglas Park acts as an extension of the deer corridor.
“Deer have cellular memories of the traditional trails they take, and that’s one of the things we have to figure out,” said Chambers, who believes many problems Greater Victoria residents are facing are caused by deer being fenced out of traditional routes.
“[At Madrona], we are putting the deer into the equation, rather than shutting them out,” she said.
While deer are welcome in the corridor, they are firmly shut out of other areas at Madrona Farm.
Page-wire fences, at least 1.8 metres high and topped with barbed wire, surround the fields, and a deer-proof wire gate, decorated with golf clubs, marks the no-go area for deer.
“We have an understanding: We feed them behind the stand, and they shall not pass the gate,” said Chambers, who has had few problems with deer breaking into the prohibited areas.
Farther down Blenkinsop Road, farmer Rob Galey, with about 60 hectares under cultivation, has little faith in fences and says deer barge through holes or teach their fawns to burrow under fences.
Galey is giving up leases on about 12 hectares of farmland because of problems with deer and geese.
While Madrona Farm is smaller, Chambers cannot see that size makes a difference.
“It’s not about size. This works,” she said.
Proof comes in the exotic shapes and colours of the organic veggies that are sold at the farm stall and to high-end restaurants year round.
More than 100 crops are produced over the 12-month cycle and, this month, range from Brussels sprouts, squash and kale to rutabagas, parsnips and leeks.
Everything, except long-lasting items such as garlic and squash, is sold the same day it is picked, and leftovers are given to shelters or fed to the deer.
Canada geese are also offered options at Madrona Farm.
“Goose poop every foot is good,” said Chambers, who plants cover crops such as native sunflowers, bee balm, clover and chickweed once the main crop is off the field.
“The geese eat the cover crops, and then they poop,” she said.
That is brilliant for the soil and revives it for the next year without having to revert to fertilizers or pesticides, Chambers said, pointing proudly to her compost.
“We have had it tested, and it’s like gold,” she said.
But the geese get a strong message from strands of blue twine that they cannot land in fields without cover crops.
“They won’t land if there’s something that impairs their takeoff or landing,” Chambers said. “We get no predation from geese.”
The goose-deterrent strings are tied to trees, again demonstrating that there are benefits to leaving an ecosystem intact, Chambers said.
“We can’t keep tinkering. We can’t remove things from the ecosystem and expect it to function,” she said.
CRD directors urge quick action on deer to save farms
Bill Cleverley , Times Colonist December 13, 2012
Saying the problem farmers are having with deer is reaching a crisis point, Capital Regional District directors on Wednesday urged fast action on a proposed deer management strategy.
The strategy will go to municipalities for consideration and feedback — a necessary next step before appealing to the province to implement measures outside of local control, such as a cull or changes to hunting regulations.
CRD directors also agreed to spend $150,000 to implement the strategy and to have staff fast-track discussions with municipalities with large agricultural areas, such as Saanich, Central Saanich and North Saanich.
Saanich farmer Rob Galey said the time for action is now, adding that fencing is not working
“These are not wild deer any more. They live here and they are not going anywhere. There is no real option here but to have a cull,” Galey said, adding he prefers a regional strategy to deal with the problem rather than having to resort to killing deer on his property himself.
Unless action is taken, local farms will be lost, he said. “You guys are going to have to stand up today and decide whether you want to save your farms or not because I’m here to tell you we’re not going to make it a couple of more years with losses like this year.”
North Saanich Coun. Ted Daly also said there is no time for delay. “We can’t just keep sitting back, the 24 or 25 of us, because this process keeps evolving,” he said.
A CRD citizens advisory committee recommended different options for rural, agricultural and urban areas and includes a gamut of possible options from fencing to a reduction of deer population.
Deterrents must be considered before the regional district will ask the province to approve a cull or to change hunting regulations.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said sending the report to municipalities is the logical next step.
“I believe this is the absolute best approach we can take in order to get measures in place for the spring planting season for the farmers,” he said.
After receiving the report, each municipality would decide which measures it wants to adopt, Ranns said. “The expectation would be that the CRD would then act as a central agency in taking the recommendations from the municipalities to the province.”
Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks said it makes sense to tailor deer management to urban, rural and agricultural areas.
“We should focus on one thing — that’s how to give the farmers the tools to protect their crops. I suggest that means unlimited year-round hunting with no bag limit on farms,” Hicks said.
CRD directors also endorsed a goose management strategy that calls for co-operation with farmers, the province and First Nations. The strategy includes habitat modification, egg addling (shaking eggs so they don’t hatch) and more efficient hunting.
CRD, not municipalities, to devise next steps on deer
Regional district should provide leadership on issue, chairman says
By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist November 29, 2012
Global news Island Deer Cull Update Nov 26, 2012.
Municipalities told to do more about deer before asking province for help
By Judith Lavoie, timescolonist.com November 21, 2012 6:44 AM
Municipalities must take the bull by the horns — or the buck by the antlers — before they can ask for provincial help in solving their deer problems, says a Capital Regional District report going to directors next week.
Bylaws prohibiting deer feeding and allowing higher fences, combined with public education about repellents and landscaping options, should be in place before either municipalities or the CRD goes to the province asking for changes to hunting regulations or a trap and kill program, the report says.
“In the case of population control measures, provincial approval is required, but conflict reduction measures need to be in place prior to qualifying for such approval,” it says, adding, “Conflict reduction measures are largely within the jurisdiction of local governments.”
The report takes the multitude of recommendations from the Citizens Advisory Committee — a group formed this year to address concerns about the growing number of urban deer — and distills them into lists of what is possible at the local level and what needs provincial approval.
“We needed to determine what was feasible and not feasible. How does it hit the ground,” said Bob Lapham, CRD general manager of planning.
Some of the more controversial proposals — such as professional sharpshooting and reducing distance regulations for firearms and bows — have been effectively scrapped. The report says those measures are considered socially unacceptable and unfeasible because of safety risks.
The CRD does not like the idea of being given authority to deal with aggressive deer, which is seen by municipalities as a form of provincial downloading.
“Delegation of such authority would come with added insurance, liability, firearms, staff training and other issues that municipalities are unlikely to willingly assume,” the report says.
Capturing and relocating deer has been dismissed because deer do not travel well and deer contraception is not available in Canada at this time, said Marg Misek-Evans, regional planning manager at the CRD.
However, some municipalities may choose to go it alone and ask the province for action on hunting regulation changes or culling with a clover trap and bolt gun.
“For people that worry this is an endless loop, options are available to municipalities right away,” Lapham said.
The question is whether municipalities want to act individually or regionally, he said.
“There are a lot of steps that can be taken in more rural areas. In urban areas, it is more challenging,” he said.
The report will go the CRD&r