On Wednesday, February 22nd, I attended the CRD (Capital Regional District) meeting with discussion to start a program to deal with the 'deer issue' in Greater Victoria. Most of the time spent was from 17 presenters, who each had 5 minutes to speak, and this was followed by discussion from the CRD board.
Given the spin on the issue from the local media, I was expecting the four speakers representing Saanich farmers to be in favor of killing deer. Surprisingly, most did not give this impression, and some expressed similar sentiments to the advocates in marveling at their visitors. I cannot say that killing is off the table, but the impression is that they would prefer other solutions to the matter, which was refreshing and encouraging.
Below are the highlights from my notes of each presenter, apologies in advance if I misrepresent any facts or statements, please use our comments section to clarify any matters, and discussion is welcome as well.
#1 - Wendy Fox, Saanich Peninsula Farmers
- farms cover 100's of acres, feel limited in what they can do
- farmers can kill up to 5 deer a year [??]
- we need to differentiate between rural and urban deer issues
- insists we need to get deer to manageable numbers
- deer need a major thinning
- farmers are losing $10,000's
#2 - Liz White, Animal Alliance
- there needs to be equal representation on the committee
- Ministry of Environment is pushing for killing as a 'solution'
- the CAG (Citizens Advisory Group) need to be revised, it's heavily biased against deer
#3 - Jordan Reichert, DeerSafe Victoria
- there doesn't appear to be any addressing of the loss of deer habitat
- no local population estimate actually exists, overall Island deer populations are diminishing
- we need to move away from a mechanistic approach, to a holistic one
- in the CRD proposal, "living with the deer" comes off as an off-hand suggestion, rather than a real possibility (other three areas of focus are on controlling deer populations.)
- "let's make the most of our inevitable relationship [with deer]"
#4 - Valerie ?
- we should lobby the Provincial Gov't for fencing, grants exist
- the cull would cost $500 per deer
- Island deer populations have dropped from 200,000 in 1980 to 50,000 at present [hope i got this right DS]
- human population is growing, and is the problem
- we're living on an island, little room elsewhere for deer
#5 - Tony Rose
- it's a privilege to share our land with deer
- what kind of message are we sending children by killing deer
- no actual statistics on damages from deer exists
- killing deer is catering to a small number of people
#6 - Kelly Carson
- no consideration for sensitive people, who are disturbed by these actions
- the killing of a deer is a traumatic experience to witness or be near
- let's not introduce trauma into our communities
#7 - Nabhraj Spogliarich
- commented on how Canada appears from other countries, that in the news, we mainly are known for either environmental catastrophes, or killing animals, like seals, grizzlies, etc..
- seal slaughter is an embarrassment to the country, and finally coming to an end, but not because of leadership from the gov't
- we kill animals like grizzlies even tho scientists tell us we need to stop, Canada ignores science
- "Is this how we want other nations to see us?"
- Victoria needs to set an example, not follow others, like Cranbrook [where they are killing deer]
- in nearly all instances, more than 50% of Canadians oppose killing of wild animals, yet gov't marches on
#8 - Dale Lovell
- sympathetic to farmers
- has lost own plants, veggies to deer, but accepts this
- feels fortunate to see deer
- phrasing in CRD 'Terms of Reference' inappropriate, language strongly in favor of killing based on appearance of words like slaughter, cull, etc..
#9 - Sheenagh Rose
- demonstrated creative 'rhino' road signs that say 'watch for deer'
- encourages committee to be compassionate, understanding
- says don't feed deer
- 99% of road accidents are essentially because of distracted drivers, according to ICBC
- deer are 24th on the list of dangers to drivers according to ICBC
- Colwood has some good examples of road signs, other communities very lacking
- "urban deer are my neighbors"
- read part of the script from Story of Stuff
- animals have nowhere to live, this conflict needs our focus
#11 - Mrs. Graham
- current methods (hazing, shot noises) inappropriate for most areas
- CRD website missing numerous submitted advocate letters, including hers and others she knows
- culling is not a solution, will result in growth spurt from plants, attracting yet more deer
- all new developments should be required to create wildlife corridors
#13 - Edith ? [#12 was speaking on another matter, #13 through 17 were late additions, so names not on meeting agenda copy i had DS]
- deer remind us to slow down, drive more reasonably
- deer are a joy for children
- fencing would pay for itself [in most cases very quickly]
#14 - ?? [advocate]
- engineer wildlife corridors between CRD parks and green areas
- development pressures are forcing deer into other areas, Oak Bay, etc.
- human hair (from salons) and pet hair are effective deterrents
#15 - Ryan Vantreight [Farms]
- farmers begging for action, need help
- geese are trouble as well
- today is about 'do we do something'
#16 - Terry Michell [Farms]
- they chase deer around 400 acres of farmland
- claims cost of fencing would be 'as high as' $1.2 million
- only has become an issue in the last 2-3 years
- worried about 'food safe ' issues
#17 - ?? [Farmer?]
- deer and geese cost $60,000 in damages
- Saanich has no fire-arm policies [assuming "5" annual deer killed by arrows? DS]
Following the Presentations/Delegations was CRD board discussion, here are my notes from this as well:
- fencing is not a solution, sometimes harms deer
- asked "what is the right number of deer"
- some areas more urgent than others, focus on "farms", then deal with "urban" issues.
- Mayor Dean Fortin asked to put this in scale, if this should be a priority at all, are there more important matters that are affecting the community more significantly than this
- FEEDING DEER IS ILLEGAL!!
- deer themselves are not "urban" or "rural"
I've come across two media reports on this:
- video from CTV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxnMSyM7eIE
- Times Colonist article: http://www.timescolonist.com/Citizens+committee+deer+backed+meeting/6194813/story.html
- ADDED: ShawTV news clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVJjAfL7OwE
Discussion is welcome below, or join the Friends of Animals group on Facebook, the Greater Victoria Deer Advocates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/133471023429190/
And finally, our information is also on our website: http://TheVictoriaVegan.com/foa
Join our email list or the Facebook group to receive more updates on this matter, thanks!
Friends of Animals
Web Site: http://FriendsofAnimals.org
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