Saturday, July 19, 2014

Deer cull delayed

by  Christine van Reeuwyk - Oak Bay News
posted Jul 16, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Speed readers installed in deer hot-spots are the latest step in the deer management plan for Oak Bay. Now council awaits a staff report, expected by fall.

“That’s our next step,” said mayor Nils Jensen. “We’re expecting, by the end of the summer, to get an update from our staff as to where we are on the deer management strategy. It’s an ongoing project and staff are carrying out the terms of reference.”

Part of their work right now is awaiting an update from the province on traps available for use in the planned deer cull.

“Traps have to be used if we’re going to be permitted by the province to cull their deer,” Jensen said. “We had fully expected them to provide those traps but they don’t have them.”

In February, 10 clover traps were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook where they had just been transferred after use for a cull in the District of Elkford. Six were found nearby, most burned and destroyed. The theft delayed Kimberley’s planned cull of up to 30 mule deer and put a significant dent in the traps the province has to loan to communities licensed to cull.

District staff are also working with the Capital Regional District as it’s a joint urban deer management pilot project between the CRD and B.C. The plan includes spending $12,500 to cull up to 25 deer that would be butchered with the meat, hooves and antlers offered to the Songhees Nation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cranbrook applies for cull permit

by  Arne Petryshen - Cranbrook Daily Townsman
posted Jul 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Cranbrook will be applying for a wildlife permit to cull up to 50 deer in 2014. Council approved the move, which directs city administration to apply for the permit through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Mayor Wayne Stetski was quick to point out at the Monday, July 14 meeting, that even if the permits are granted, it would likely be up to the next sitting council to approve any culls, as there is a municipal election coming in November.

"The way I read this one is even if council decides tonight to approve the request for up to 50 deer, for permits that are required, it does not mean that that is going to happen," he said.

"Potentially the decision to cull or not cull may very well be a decision of the next mayor and council," said Stetski.

Coun. Bob Whetham said these are basically the recommendations that came out of the Cranbrook Urban Deer Management deer survey conducted in May. Whetham sits on the committee. The survey pointed to a majority of residents wanting the city to reduce the urban deer herd.

"I think the message is pretty strong that they are asking for support from council to try to do something to mitigate the problem," Whetham said. "Previously we found that all the reported — or nearly all the reported — incidents with aggression involved people with dogs. This time we found that there were people reporting aggressive behaviour even when they didn't have dogs. That's something new to us and I think that's something we have to act on."

He said the options available to manage deer are still limited, as the only option currently sanctioned by the province is culling.

Mayor Stetski noted that he is on a committee looking at translocation of deer.

"Whether or not that would happen this fall, we're still trying to work through some of the details on it," Stetski said. "There certainly is an interest in trying two translocation projects in the East Kootenay involving two communities of which Cranbrook would be one of them. That potentially would have 20 animals move from each of these two communities."

Stetski said it is preliminary at this time and may not happen before October or November.

In the report, the urban deer committee noted that it believes another deer count would be necessary in 2014 prior to conducting any population reduction measures. The province has also purchased 10 new clover trap frames and heavy netting to replace the traps vandalized in Kimberley and Cranbrook earlier this year.

CAO Wayne Staudt said to his understanding, the city would just be applying for the permits and not required to do a cull.

"You need to get in line for these permits and get in line for the administrative process," Staudt said.

Coun. Diana J. Scott said council did get a lot of support from residents for further deer control measures.

"If we don't apply for one and don't get it, then want to do one, we're hooped," Scott said.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Arguing Against Outdated Methods

Columbia Valley Pioneer, Jully 11, 2014

Unedited version of the letter submitted by Kathy Wilson

Dear Editor:

While the retired Conservation Officer from Alberta may have the best of intentions regarding deer, education is the key. Mr. Markham said "It doesn't take an expert to see that the deer in Invermere are overpopulated and in poor physical condition”. Dr. Rick Page, a BC ungulate expert, on visiting Invermere said that we have healthy, stable population. They don’t have chronic wasting disease and they live here because the habitat is suitable. They do not attract predators and even “resident” deer are migratory.

If Mr. Markham has safety concerns for children, why does he advocate for an outdated method of wildlife management that does not work? It is well documented that when deer are killed, other deer move in. Used as a model by the Invermere Deer Committee, Helena Montana is a prime example of this. Since 2008, they have slaughtered 740 deer and will kill another 70 this year. The fact that they continue to kill year after year is proof of the program's ineffectiveness.
Council has decided to kill deer even though there is no wildlife science or risk assessment to support culling. Dr. Page offered to speak with Mayor and council but was met with no response. There are no statistics to support the imagined risk – just complaints. At least 20 people are killed by family dogs every year. Hundreds of people drown at public beaches. Mr. Markham, like council seems to believe that slaughter with no valid reason or objective is reasonable. The mayor himself admitted that killing deer every year will probably make no difference.

Asking taxpayers to kill deer to protect plants is no different than painting your house to protect it from exposure. Since when are we responsible for protecting your flowers?
It's time we start to look at wildlife management methods that are humane, current, effective, and lasting. The district and citizens would both benefit from a comprehensive education plan, strategic fencing practices, bylaw enforcement and planning to improve and create wildlife corridors and habitat. These methods work. If you believe there is a problem, why not want to use methods that works?

Poor decisions were made, challenged, and then vehemently defended. Kimberley, Penticton, and Grand Forks have all opted out of culling. I'm not sure why Invermere continues with outdated methods that don't work, but my guess is that it has little to do with wildlife management, and a lot to do with vindication.

Kathy Wilson

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Minisry of Transportation Ready to Take on Ungulates in the Kootenays

Wildlife detection system to be tested on Highway 3

The corridor between Cranbrook, Fernie, Sparwood and the Alberta border is “Ground Zero” for collisions with wildlife in B.C.
And a new high-tech wildlife detection systems will be tested on Highway 3 between Fort Steele and the Alberta border to better warn motorists about the potential for collisions.
Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, announced the testing of the new technology at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook.
“We recognized that one of the leading causes of collisions in B.C. is the high prevalence of wildlife on many corridors, and nowhere greater than here in the Kootenays,” Stone said. “In fact, the Cranbrook-Fernie-Sparwood (corridor) is pretty much Ground Zero for some of the highest rates of collisions in the province.
“Amongst a number of other initiatives which we’re going to move forward with, like fencing and more LED signs and so forth, we decided we’re going to pilot two wildlife detection systems here in the East Kootenay,” Stone said. “One will be just outside of Sparwood, because that area has the highest incidents of elk collisions in the province — by far. The second system will be just east of Cranbrook and it has one of the highest rates overall of collisions with wildlife, most of which is deer.
“So we thought, ‘nowhere better in the province to pilot these systems than here.’”
The combined value is $1.5 million. Stone said the technology is state of the art, using sensors and radar to identify large wildlife approaching the shoulder of the highway. When a large animal is detected, the system will trigger flashing lights on a warning sign to alert drivers of the potential hazard ahead. Drivers can then lower their speed and take appropriate steps to reduce their chances of hitting the animal.
Approximately 70 per cent of elk fatalities on Highway 3 near Sparwood occurred between October and March, a period when driving conditions are most challenging with less daylight and winter conditions.
Approximately 60 per cent of deer fatalities on Highway 3 occurred between April and September, when many tourists are travelling through the area.
An adult bull elk can weigh as much as 315 kg (700 lb) and a large adult bull moose can approach 700 kg (1540 lb). By comparison, a subcompact sedan weighs approximately 1,100 kg (2400 lb), and a motorcycle weighs between 200 and 350 kg (440-770 lb).
Stone, the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, was first elected in May, 2013, and the next month was appointed Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure — a big, sprawling, complicated portfolio.
“It’s the best ministry in government, in my opinion,” Stone told the Townsman. “It’s loaded with staff who are all about getting things done. It’s all project-based, there’s a beginning and an end on everything we do.
“I think the greatest challenge — because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenges thus far, and I’ve met the challenges head on, I think — is just the massive scope of transportation infrastructure that we have in this province. We have 47,800 kilometres of road that’s maintained by the Province. You think of the dozens of airports we have, we’ve got about 15 deepwater ports in this province, there’s responsibility for rail, for ICBC … It’s a broad portfolio with lots of responsibilities.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Theft of traps thwarts Oak Bay deer cull plan

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist
June 23, 2014 09:29 PM


A deer bounds through the rough at Victoria Golf Club.   Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

A theft of deer traps in Cranbrook this past winter has thrown a curve into Oak Bay’s plans for an urban deer cull.
“It appears that the province no longer has the ability to supply the traps that are required to conduct the cull program,” Mayor Nils Jensen said Monday.
“The information we received from the province is that the traps that they had to lend out have either been destroyed or stolen,” Jensen said.
Jensen said there are also concerns the cost of the deer management strategy might be more than the anticipated $12,500.
Ten clover deer traps, available for loan to municipalities, were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook in February by someone who cut a chain-link fence to gain entry.
According to news reports, six of the 10 stolen traps were quickly found in bush near the compound, but they had been burned and were unusable. One trap was found intact. Three others were missing. RCMP estimated the total value of the traps at about $17,000.
Oak Bay has sent a letter to Steve Thomson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, asking that the province rebuild modified clover traps and make them available.
“The most recent information I have is we may have to manufacture the traps ourselves and that could be a costly business,” Jensen said.
Oak Bay’s deer management initiatives have been done in conjunction with a $150,000 Capital Regional District deer management pilot project which is now close to wrapping up.
CRD staff are recommending that pilot end in September.
Before Oak Bay could conduct a cull, it has to make application to the province for a permit. CRD staff say they will soon present a draft permit application for review by Oak Bay staff prior to submission to the province.
The provincial permit requirements include completion of a conflict reduction program, deer-vehicle collision mitigation, public education plans, and a deer count prior to any cull, all of which have been done.
Jensen said with the CRD pilot ending, Oak Bay will have to decide whether to proceed on its own or to appeal to the CRD to continue the pilot and provide funding.
“Funding is certainly a question mark that we’re still working on. Also the logistics, if we can call it that, is an issue that we are dealing with. How do we dispose of the meat? So we’re looking at partnerships there,” he said.
The earliest the municipality could have proceeded with a cull was this fall.
Oak Bay planned to have up to 25 deer trapped and killed.
The aim of the initiative is to reduce the number of deer killed by automobiles and to appease residents who have long complained about deer taking over backyards, destroying garden shrubs and flowers, and devouring homegrown vegetables.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dock Side Fawn is Safe for Now

We received word tonight that the fawn who was presumed dead for three days is safe and back to bouncing around at the Dock Side Green site. Apparently we should have trusted the doe to be the good mother that she is, to have moved her little one from imminent danger.

The alarm was raised, quite understandably, by CRD residents who have grown fond of the deer that have been living behind the plastic-lined chain link fence that surrounds the property. The three day absence of the fawn after the activity of heavy machinery was a legitimate cause for concern by observers. The situation for this small herd will continue to be a serious concern as the construction of Dock Side Green progresses.

As this deer family loses it's foothold on this safe place, and they are pushed further into Victoria West and Esquimalt, there will be residents who will observe them and will assert that the deer population is exploding. Three hundred new residential units are to be added to Vic West during the next construction phase. Three hundred new residents will be noticing a deer presence. Not all of them will be happy about that. The municipality of Esquimalt has voted to cull deer if 75% of the CRD municipalities agree to this method of “deer management.” The fate of the Dock Side deer will be intertwined with the policies of both Vic West and Esquimalt.

This little fawn is not out of the woods yet.

For myself, I have learned the difference between the teats of a doe who has recently nursed and those that are milk engorged.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Tragic Tale of the Dock Side Deer

A small herd of five deer (three bucks and two does) have been living on the unused land that is awaiting another phase of the Dock Side Green development in Vic West. They eke out a living among the condominiums and the industry on the Gorge, keeping to themselves and avoiding cars when they cross Tyee or Bay Street to slip between the plastic-lined chain link fence. Behind that fence they have found sanctuary. Waving grasses and blackberries, and probably best of all, privacy, due to the security fence and the warning signs that read “These premises protected by video surveillance.”

A difficult exsistence, to be sure. But they are a young herd, and they have never known life in a forest. They are what are currently termed “urban wildlife.” A designation that acknowledges their exsistence, but in no way assures them of a right to life.

On May 23, 2014 some residents in a highrise overlooking the Dock Side site emailed DeerSafe to advise us that they had been watching a new fawn. Well hidden by her mother during the day, the little one was very active whenever the doe was present. Bouncing with youthful exuberance she would follow her mother, at times daring to stray a few yards to examine something new. Always, obediently, staying for hours where her mother put her while the doe left to forage during the day.

Her safe place became unsafe on May 27. A gravel company came to the site and began to move the piles of rocks and gravel. One resident approached the workers to advise them that a fawn was in the area, and pointed to the place were the young animal was hidden. The workers said they were aware of the fawn and they would be working in an area opposite to her. One worker “joked” that “he could always shoot it.” The next day they moved the rocks and gravel on to that very spot.

The highrise across from the site affords residents a panoramic view of the Dock Side Green site. Within hours of the gravel having been moved the doe was noticed, looking agitated. The fawn has not been seen for 48 hours.

Tonight I found the doe grazing on the Gorge side of the site. When she turned away from me I saw that her teats are painfully swollen.

The burgeoning developments in our region are inviting an ever growing human population, and with them come ever more roads and loss of natural environments. Lofty ideals of ecologically sound development, such as Dock Side Green, cannot be possible without a contigency plan that protects the indigenous residents of the area. One tiny fawn no longer scampers among the grasses at the Dock Side Green site. For many of us, her life was noticed. For her mother, her life will be sorely missed.

Dock Side Green has been contacted in writing and in person. The name of the gravel company they subcontracted is not currently known.