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Letter: Who’s responsible for damage done by wildlife
To the editor:
Jennifer Smith’s story Deer Culling Options Debated (March 18 Capital News) caught my attention. Her reporting, which included comments from Const. Kevin Hamilton, made a lot of sense.
With the best of intentions we have built an urban sanctuary for much of our local wildlife which includes, geese, deer, coyotes, black bears and now cougars. This process has evolved over the past decades as well-meaning animal lovers have banded together with MLAs, PITA and the Sierra groups to discourage or eliminate hunting in general but in particular around built up areas.
The legacy of such thinking is now in full bloom as we decry the fouling of our parks, beaches and public spaces with the leavings of a burgeoning goose problem. All the while discouraging the practice of a local open hunting season to reduce and discourage the birds from frequenting these areas in the first place.
Last week’s edition featured a well written feature [by Capital News reporter Jennifer Smith]on the dilemma facing the orchardists as the predation of deer on young tree stock has the potential to be a serious financial blow to their industry. Comments were made of turning the Upper Mission into an area resembling a “concentration camp” with fences and barb wire desecrating the natural rural ambiance, etc.
I do feel for the orchardists and my sympathies are with them as I have seen and experienced what a small group of deer can do to a fenced in nursery or orchard. It is in essence a feeding sanctuary and the deer have little to worry about as they are protected by law and from predators.
However, I also believe that the orchardists are looking at the problem from the wrong end of the telescope. It is understood that the deer and all wildlife belong to the Province of British Columbia, hence the regulations regarding them.
That being said, if I had a cow, horse or other animal that insisted on visiting my neighbour’s garden and helping itself to a treat or destroyed the same by walking around, I would be liable for such damage and loss.
Therefore the responsibility for keeping “their” deer off private property belongs to the province, not the orchardists as does the expense and reparation for the said damage.
If the province is not willing to allow the culling of the deer or other destructive wildlife from the orchards, parks etc., then it must come up with an effective solution backed up by the copious amounts of money and resources that is currently being lumbered onto the orchardists and citizens.
If my orchard was under predational attack and my hands were legislatively tied, I would be forwarding an invoice for crop damage, fencing required etc., to the province and would be expecting payment within 30 days or interest charges and/or legal action would follow shortly.
The ‘come and get your deer off my land’ registered letter would only be sent once, then the meter would start ticking.
Brian R. Mellis,