As long as people and wildlife live in close proximity to each other, their interaction will always have to be managed in some way.
For the animals, by and large that means they are the ones to bear the brunt of that management.
Debate over the need to cull deer in Greater Victoria has its roots with humanity’s need to grow, to expand and to enjoy their own living space. It can be argued that we do this at the expense of other creatures.
Take the wolf, or cougar, for instance. People have managed them right out of our communities. That’s reasonable, certainly. They pose a larger danger than what is left behind — namely the deer.
Yet there are ramifications to eliminating those predators, such as the rise and fall of deer populations around urban areas.
It’s difficult to envision how large numbers of deer pose a threat to people, given their skittish nature. I suppose it’s the gardens that suffer the most. And in Oak Bay, that threat contributed to the municipality’s recent deer cull.
Was it worth all the fuss over the issue to cull a few deer? Probably not. New ones will be back soon as there’s nothing to keep their numbers down.
As one solution, Victoria city councillor Chris Coleman is suggesting farming might be an option. Round ‘em up and breed them for venison. One supposes that could be called a controlled, confined cull, where few people go out of their way to witness it.
It might have a chance of working out in Central Saanich, where an online petition against a cull there two years ago garnered little to no support. There ended up being no cull in Central Saanich, where more agricultural space means fewer human-deer run-ins and, presumably, a more benign attitude toward them.
In the long run, the ruckus over the Oak Bay cull in all likelihood will die down.
The deer, however, will not. They’ll be back. And it’ll be up to people to once again figure out how to manage them.
It’s tough to argue for doing nothing, since people created the problem in the first place, but that might be the best thing we can do. We’ve done enough already.