Community Papers

Cars killing enough deer, say advocates

Two animal rights groups say a deer cull is already happening in Oak Bay, albeit by cars, but it proves killing them will not solve the overpopulation problem.

Lesley Fox, executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals quoted Mayor Nils Jensen recently saying about 40 deer deaths occurred in 2013, most of them due to vehicular collisions. In November, Oak Bay council approved culling up to 25 deer this year.

“Theoretically, they’ve already achieved those numbers and then some,” Fox said. “How is that working for you? Do you still have a problem with deer? Yes, you do.”

Friends of Animals correspondent Dave Shishkoff agreed with Fox.

“(The municipality is) nearly at double what they want to kill,” Shishkoff said. “Are people seeing less deer in Oak Bay?”

Fox and Shishkoff met with Jensen and Coun. Pam Copley last month regarding the cull. They found the two elected officials open-minded, but felt they are under pressure by a vocal group of anti-deer residents to do something about the deer overpopulation.

“Council has been put in a position where residents are breathing down their necks,” Fox said. “This will appease the public but won’t solve the problem.”

Both Fox and Shishkoff said Oak Bay needs to enforce its no deer-feeding bylaw, educate its citizens in making their yards unattractive to hungry deer and encourage people to slow down in areas known for high deer activity.

“People are feeding them and we know who they are. The mayor knows who they are and they are not getting fined,” Fox said. “Animals are driven by two things, food and habitat. If there is no food the deer would keep moving. Why would they (move on) when there is this continual, reliable food source?”

Fox said it’s unnatural for deer not to fear humans or dogs, and she’s convinced the bold and aggressive animals have been fed by people.

BC SPCA officials plan to meet with Jensen later this month to discuss their concerns. In November, they condemned council’s decision to proceed with a cull when other measures, such as fining those who feed deer, have not been enforced.

“We reiterate that a cull is very premature without addressing issues like feeding of deer,” said BC SPCA wildlife services manager Sara Dubois.

Jensen said he will continue to meet with those concerned about the deer and explain what Oak Bay and the Capital Regional District is doing in advance of the cull. He is also open to suggestions on how the community should deal with deer, but council isn’t reversing its decision.

“We are taking a multifaceted approach to dealing with the issue,” Jensen said, explaining there will be public education regarding feeding and fencing. “We are not just having a cull without taking any preliminary steps.”

The BC SPCA, Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals and Friends of Animals are planning several public events.

They are currently putting together a booklet on how to live with deer, which will be distributed to all Oak Bay households.

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