Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oak Bay's Deer Cull Was a Good Deal More Than $16,000

Mayor Jensen recently insisted at a council meeting that the cost of the deer cull was only $16,000. He spoke to media shortly after the cull, naming Ron Kerr as the contractor who was paid, an amount which exceeds the terms of the Request for Proposal:

He also does not acknowledge that the cost of the deer count, undertaken in April 2014 (not June, as Mayor and staff are inexplicably claiming – for proof of the timeline, see the blog post from April 11, 2014) was a requirement for obtaining the permit to cull. That cost:

The CRD Budget Estimates for Oak Bay Deer Management Pilot Project implementation follows. Residents will not have access to the final budget breakdown, but this will help us to understand the costs that Oak Bay does not want to discuss.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ask Oak Bay

Budget meetings in municipalities can be protracted, boring affairs that can go late into the night. The Oak Bay meeting of April 13, 2015 was all that, but there was one notable difference – this one convened to an in camera meeting at 9:35 pm. The topic? Animal, Pest Control. The budget? See for yourself.

I draw your attention to the 2015 budget for deer control. Mayor Jensen sought to increase the budget from $25,000 to $35,000. That may surprise no one, but the question for Oak Bay residents is this: why has all but $4,000 for 2015 been spent on deer control by March?

When a budget meeting goes in camera, that can mean that discussion could contain “information that is personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality,” or “the acquistion, disposition or expropriation of land or improvements, if council considers that disclosure could resonably be expected to harm the interests of the municipality.”

Or it could mean “information that is prohibited, or information that if it were presented in a document would be prohibited from disclosure under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

How did the municipality spend the entire budget of $35,000 for deer control, save for $4,000, by March 2015? We have questions. The answers are likely hidden under Section 21.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Focus of Deer Cull Prtotest Shifts to CRD

A DeerSafe Victoria rally Saturday ratifies the group’s commitment to stopping any proposed culls in the region.
The event was in anticipation of a report to the Capital Regional District on its deer management strategy, including the pilot cull project in Oak Bay last month.
“Now is the time, we feel, to bring this out to the public and say we know what you’re going to be doing behind our backs and we’re frustrated,” said Kelly Carson of DeerSafe Victoria. “The rally is often a good way to get them to pay attention when not all of us can take time off from work to speak to their meeting.”
Carson says they’ve used their allotted minutes to speak to municipal councils and the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee for the past three years, only to be ignored.
“It’s been utterly frustrating … We’ve been left using ‘public spectacles’,” Carson said.
In Oak Bay’s pilot project completed last month, a 16-day cull netted 11 deer. Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen called it a success, proving a cull could take place in an urban environment and mild temperate climate. The CRD’s deer management strategy, including the cull, will be reviewed with a report expected on the April 22 agenda for the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee.
“By then they’ve finished their exploration of this … with no feedback from those who are opposed. That’s how it’s been the last three years,” Carson said. “It’s extremely frustrating for us who don’t want to see this again in the fall.”
They selected Centennial Square in Victoria as a central location between the legislature (the province issues any licence to cull its wildlife) and Victoria City Hall, citing Mayor Lisa Helps’ prior statements that the city would participate in a cull.
Helps stands by that statement, particularly in light of the deer meat being distributed to local First Nations as was done in Oak Bay.
“Doing nothing is not an option. At the same time it’s not the responsibility of the city. The mandate would come through the CRD,” said Helps.
“Local First Nations have been hunting deer since before any of us arrived here, and if we can have a win-win where deer are used for food as they have been for time immemorial. … I fully support using a local food source to feed some of our most impoverished residents.”
Carson contends the cull process is inhumane.
“This is animal cruelty, we know it… sitting on a wild animal and putting a bolt gut to its head is cruel,” Carson said.
In Oak Bay a contractor used modified clover traps placed on private properties –  capturing and killing seven bucks and four does.
“As always, I’m open minded. If there are more humane ways to kill the deer then let’s hear them,” Helps said. “We can’t have people running around with rifles in Victoria. Urban hunting is an oxymoron.”
Carson said most municipalities have not demonstrated serious deer/human conflict mitigation efforts – required by the province before a cull can take place – such as public education, a public survey, signage and lowering speed limits in known wildlife crossing areas.
DeerSafe will continue “diligently following the individual municipalities,” Carson said. “We’ve got work ahead of us and we won’t be letting go of this.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Oak Bay deer need birth control, not death penalty group says

11 deer killed this year in cull

By All Points West, CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2015 9:23 PM PT

A newly formed group called the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society wants to use birth control to reduce Oak Bay's deer population instead of the lethal cull that was done this year.

After this year's controversial deer cull in Oak Bay, a local group has stepped forward with a plan that involves giving female deer birth control.

In February, 11 deer were killed as part of the Capital Regional District's deer management pilot project.

A formal report is expected later this month, but now a newly formed group called the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society is advocating a non-lethal approach to keeping down the deer population.

The society's goal is to capture 25 to 50 deer in Oak Bay and administer what is called an immunocontraceptive, which creates antibodies and prevents deer from becoming pregnant.

"We put ear tags in, give them a shot in the bum and let them go," said Rich Page, a wildlife biologist with the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

Page says he's spoken to Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen about this issue numerous times over the past couple of years.

"We hope to demonstrate that this is feasible and hope they don't ever have to go back to a lethal cull again."

To move forward, the group needs a federal certificate from Health Canada which Page says can be a lengthy process and take up to six months.

Page estimates it costs about $500 to capture the deer and administer the vaccine. However, the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society wants to make this project a valid scientific study using graduate students who collect and analyze the data, escalating costs to around $1000 per deer.

The society's goal is to raise $50,000 by July. It hopes to be in the field capturing deer by August.

Monday, April 6, 2015

DeerSafe Rally April 11 2015, Centennial Square

Saturday, April 11, 2015 
Centennial Square
2 - 4 pm

Mayor Lisa Helps has stated that if Oak Bay was successful Victoria would consider a culling program. As expected, the Oak Bay cull of 11 deer was declared a success, by a very jubilant mayor. This means that other municipalities in the Capital Regional District have a green light to conduct mass killings of their own.

For 3 years many of us have used our 3 alloted minutes to speak to municipal councils and the CRD's Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee, only to be ignored by these panels as we stood in front of them. Our letters have not been responded to. Calls for scientific research into deer numbers, non-lethal and inexpensive deer/human mitigation and a pilot project for a non-lethal deer population reduction method have been met with silence, or countered with unabashed fear-mongering.

Our urban wildlife belong to us all, not the provincial government. By using our tax dollars to implement a killing program the municipalities are making us all complicit in something that we are vehemently against.

Bring a sign and be heard. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In Spite of Public Dissent, Mayor Proceeds with Deer Extermination

by Barry Kent MacKay, March 18 2015

Spending taxpayers' money with a degree of secrecy that Eisenhower and Churchill might have envied in planning D-Day, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen has claimed "success" in another war against a timid adversary — known as the black-tailed deer. This small race of the mule deer is in decline on Vancouver Island, but still deemed "too common" for an undisclosed number of Oak Bay residents. Oak Bay is part of the greater community of Victoria, capital of British Columbia, located near the southern tip of Vancouver Island, which is nearly 300 miles long and about 50 miles across at its widest point.
In February and March, Oak Bay conducted a highly "covert" operation in which it trapped deer in "Clover traps": collapsible frameworks covered with net mesh. A deer entering the trap triggers the door to drop as he or she starts to eat the bait. The traps are set in the evening and checked by the cull contractor early in the morning to avoid public scrutiny. Once the cull contractors arrive, one of them collapses the trap and sits on the panicked, struggling deer while the other grabs the animal's head, presses a captive bolt pistol to the skull, and discharges a metal bolt into the animal's brain.
Researchers believe that this method causes suffering, as was explained to the mayor.
It appears that most Oak Bay residents are not bothered much, if at all, by the deer — and many enjoy them. All agree that more might be done to reduce the already-small incidence of cars hitting deer, but most of those occur in one area where mitigating factors could be implemented (as was done in Ottawa with significant success). But, no; the mayor's response to such concerns ranged from killing to ... killing.
Other concerns? One was that elderly people were afraid to walk the streets at night for fear of, well, deer attack. (No, they really weren't — and they said so.) Another concern was about deer eating garden plants. Looking at the lush greenery of Oak Bay, boasting the most luxurious gardens in Canada, and thinking of the expanse of snow covering my own garden back home in Ontario, the concern seems laughable. Deer in Victoria, like snow in Toronto, are part of the environment (except that, in Victoria, you can grow so much more, and even year-round). We saw no browse lines and no depleted cedar or other signs of a large population of deer.
And, why 25? No one knows how many deer are in that region, let alone how many deaths it would take to satisfy the unknown number of complainers (very few, judging from what documentation we were able to access). But, 25 was apparently the number the council felt it could afford to kill. No one explained why that number would stop those complaints that so bothered the mayor. In fact, as we also explained, culling deer tends not to reduce population numbers. In Helena, Montana, they've been culling them for a decade without resolving whatever the concerns may be. In Cranbrook, in central British Columbia, there was a dramatic increase in "aggressive" deer following culling (although it has to be said that Cranbrook's council did not define what was meant by "aggressive" and has done nothing to teach folks about co-existing peacefully with the deer). It's impossible, using Clover traps and bolt guns, to remove what few deer, if any, might be the ones who have frightened people. Since fawns stay with, and learn from, their mothers for close to a full year, it's also impossible to know how many of the seven does who were killed in Oak Bay left orphaned young.
The Oak Bay residents I talked to, including many store clerks and service staff, were not only against the cull, but of the opinion that the $220,000 spent by the Capital Regional District and the more than $30,000 spent by Oak Bay could better serve the broader communities. But, that is of no obvious concern to the mayor. He is apparently happy that 11 deer died miserably, and Oak Bay citizens discovered that their government is not as democratically transparent as they might have thought.
But, it's not over. Mayor Jensen wants to keep on killing and keep up the secrecy. Increasingly, though, the good folks of Oak Bay are learning what kind of mayor he is. And, as any Torontonian can tell you, bad mayors and their policies don't last.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Voices Carry

Thank you to all the Oak Bay residents, and residents from surrounding communities, who came out during an extremely trying time while the council commenced with their deer cull in February/March. You raised your voices every way you could think of; appealing for scientific research, writing and presenting to councils and board members, even walking the streets of Oak Bay day and night looking for signs of those who were creeping around in secrecy.

Mayor Jensen announced that seven bucks and four does lost their lives over a sixteen day period. When he went to the media to declare the cull a success, he could not contain his obvious glee that the public was not able to observe this carefully planned kill.

We have learned that the pilot in Oak Bay was initiated to conduct a cull in a densely urbanized area without detection. Staff time (“not cheap” according to Mayor Jensen) was spent carefully selecting properties, not based on complaints, but on the ability to keep the “euthanasia” of problem wildlife a carefully guarded secret.

We will not accept any more of these killings in our communities. DeerSafe is here to support the many residents of the Capital Regional District who insist on scientific evidence of an urban deer overpopulation and non-lethal human/deer mitigation. We cannot be shouted down just because the loudest voice has the ability to snuff out innocent lives.

We are not going away. Voices carry.