No provincial funds for deer plan

Capital Regional District must pay for a deer management plan itself

Not one penny.

That’s how much financial support the Capital Regional District can expect from the province to help tackle problems with the region’s burgeoning deer population.

A report presented to the CRD’s planning, transportation and protective services committee on Oct. 27 stated that “no financial resources would be available” from the Ministry of Environment to support a deer management plan.

“I believe it has to be a multi-pronged approach. I see the province, ICBC and ourselves — as the Capital Region — implementing probably a three-stage solution,” said Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton.

He suggests the first stage would involve an education campaign and stricter bylaws around feeding the animals. The second would be a tranquilization and relocation of deer and the third would be a selective cull.

“The municipalities have to agree to a plan and then the province needs to indicate they’re taking this seriously now. It can’t go on exploding,” he said.

The issue around deer management resurfaced at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September where Causton chaired a panel meeting on the subject.

The CRD report doesn’t offer suggestions for managing the deer. It includes one recommendation: to prepare terms of reference for a plan and seek out funding partnerships.

Sean Pendergast, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, says the City of Cranbrook’s “community-owned management plan” is an effective approach to alleviating the issue.

Greater Victoria’s issues, he said, are the result of urban spread.

“We’ve done a very good job in our urban and rural areas of eliminating all predators … so the deer numbers are able to increase unencumbered,” Pendergast said. “And hunting is becoming less acceptable, even legal hunting practices, so really the only predator they have these days is automobiles.”

Relocation isn’t in the best interests of the animal, he said. It puts them at a disadvantage, survival-wise. “But quite often (relocation is) a public desire before even mentioning a cull.”

The province is willing to provide staff support through the planning process and allow for the borrowing of equipment – clover traps, net guns, tranquilizers – during the implementation.

“I think we’ve lit a bit of a fire under the CRD – things are moving along,” Causton said, acknowledging that he first asked regional staff to look at a management plan a year ago.

“We’ve got to step up from what we’ve got now, which is nothing.”

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com