Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Deer Irritant in Oak Bay

The witch hunt known as the Regional Deer Management Strategy took further steps this week when what was meant to be a covert deer count was begun in Oak Bay by CRD staff, accompanied by Mike Webb of West Coast Problem Wildlife Management.

Even though a call to by-law revealed that no deer feeding complaints have been recorded, and no fines have been imposed, Oak Bay council recently raised the fine for feeding deer from $100 to $300 for a first offense, $500 for subsequent offenses. Fines for feeding racoons and rabbits remain at $100. Inadequate care of companion animals, inadequate shelter of companion animals and cruelty remain at $50. A vicious dog fine is $200.

Oak Bay staff tallied the costs associated with "deer removal and disposal," and found that the costs merit a fine increase. According to this logic everyone who plants a garden and refuses to fence it is feeding deer, including city beautification plantings of petunias and tulips.

The aim of the $12,500 deer initiative is to appease the residents who have been complaining that deer are eating their gardens. The deer count that has taken place over the past two weeks is intended to help the CRD and Oak Bay create a plan, which will include a deer cull as early as September.

Oak Bay will find some stumbling blocks along the way, however.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations only issues deer killing permits for the months of November to March. November municipal elections will probably be very bad timing for a mass slaughter of deer in the CRD.

And then there is the rumour that the Ministry will not lend their clover traps to Oak Bay due to concerns of vandalism. In 2011 the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations paid $15,000 for ten deer traps, two bolt guns and a plastic sled to bleed out the deer. Communities in the CRD that have expressed an interest in a clover trap “pilot project” (Oak Bay, View Royal and Central Saanich) may be viewed as too risky for the loan, since public opposition to these culls has been very vocal.

The witch hunt began with an invitation via the Times Colonist from the CRD to residents to write in to a designated email address with their complaints about deer in early 2011. It progressed with a Citizen's Advisory Group that included a bow hunting lobbyist (and in which two appointees resigned citing “an irretrievably flawed process”), and an online survey that was not even given honourable mention in the CAG's RDMS report.

It would seem that the biggest headache for the levels of government that have tasked themselves with the appeasement of gardeners and careless drivers isn't the opposition to culling or even the deer themselves. Their lack of meaningful research into non-lethal human/deer mitigation methods and best scientific practises has given way to knee-jerk political positioning. If only they could remember what is at the heart of this irritant – animal abuse and society's response to out-of-control change for us all.

Photo courtesy of Nicolas Read

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oak Bay Deer Count Under Way

The CRD began a deer count in Oak Bay the week of April 7 – 11. Taking part in the count are three CRD employees, including Jeff Weighman, two animal control officers, and Mike Webb who owns West Coast Problem Wildlife Management, a local business with only a cell phone number to contact.

Forty four deer were seen this week during early morning counts. Can they prove that the same deer weren't counted more than once?  Next week the counts will continue in the evenings.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pro-cull City "Pleased" With Early Response to Deer Cull Survey

The city of Cranbrook has posted on their website that they are "pleased" with 500 responses to their deer cull survey.  They have not checked the IP addresses of the respondents as yet.  Some residents have reported that they were able to complete and submit the survey online twice, even three times. "We've had a couple of small issues arise shortly after the survey went public, but those have been corrected," says Zettel.  Can Cranbrook council assure everyone that these 500 responses weren't the result of several residents completing the survey more than once?

The following article is from E-know.


City pleased with early response to urban deer survey

Posted: March 14, 2014

Nearly five days since the urban deer resident survey was made available to residents of the City of Cranbrook, staff is pleased with the public interest and participation.

Since the survey became available on Monday morning (March 10), just over 500 surveys have been completed both online and via paper copies. The survey closes on Friday, March 28 at 4:30 p.m.

I am quite happy with the early response of our residents,” says Chris Zettel, Corporate Communications Officer with the City of Cranbrook. “I am beginning to see some trending with some of the results, but it is still too early to make any solid conclusions yet.”

The survey is intended to provide residents an opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the current deer management program and provide input to council on future direction of this initiative. The last time the public was surveyed about urban deer was September 2010. About 1,470 residents completed the 2010 survey.

Sometimes even with the best planning and testing little things do come up. We’ve had a couple of small issues arise shortly after the survey went public, but those have been corrected,” says Zettel. “I want to thank those residents that made us aware of those issues, so we could look after them.”

Residents can access the survey online on the city’s website – and click on ‘Urban Deer Resident Survey’ under City of Cranbrook Links on the homepage. Residents without access to a computer, printed versions of the survey will be available for pick up at reception at City Hall during regular business hours.

Residents requesting a paper copy must provide photo identification with a City of Cranbrook mailing address to be able to get a survey. Completed surveys can be mailed back to City Hall or dropped off by the 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 28 deadline. Postmarks will not be accepted. Completed surveys must be received at City Hall by the deadline date. Late submissions will be disqualified.

City of Cranbrook

Monday, March 10, 2014

Be Afraid, Little Girls, Be very Afraid

Cranbrook has updated their website with a new 2013 Urban Deer Annual Report.  This is the picture they chose.

"The City of Cranbrook recognizes that deer are a natural part of our environment and despite the fact that present mule deer numbers are considered low relative to other urban areas, anecdotal information from the public suggests that human and deer interactions in Cranbrook are increasing. 
Residents continue to express growing frustration with a range of deer issues from property damage to aggression towards both pets and humans."

The relentless fear-mongering continues.  We look forward to posting the latest survey from Cranbrook council.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kimberley cull done after traps damaged

Sally MacDonald and Carolyn Grant

Kimberley's 2014 cull of 30 mule deer is effectively over as four of the five clover traps being used were vandalized and damaged on February 27.

 Devin Kazakoff, a founder of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, is one of two men charged over allegations of deer trap tampering in Kimberley last week.
Kazakoff and another man, Lucky Gene Sikora, appeared before a Judicial Justice of the Peace in Cranbrook on Thursday, Feb. 27 on charges of mischief, and disguising the face with intent to commit an offence.
They were released from custody and will next appear in Cranbrook Criminal Court on May 20 to consult legal counsel.
They were released with a $1,000 bail under a number of strict conditions which include: not to enter the City of Kimberley; not to be within 500 metres of a Ministry of Forests or Ministry of Environment office or facility in B.C.; not to be within 500 metres of any lawful deer trap facility; to report to a bail supervisor and abide by a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
According to RCMP, two men were arrested early on Feb. 27 after they were observed damaging a deer trap in Kimberley and fleeing the scene on foot and then in a vehicle.
Police tracked the vehicle to a side road south of Kimberley and took the two men into custody.
A police dog found netting from traps nearby, and a search of the vehicle found items police believe were used to tamper with the traps. Four traps in total were damaged.
Kazakoff's Invermere Deer Protection Society sued the District of Invermere in 2012, claiming that council failed to properly consult residents before deciding to carry out a deer cull.
The civil suit was defeated in B.C. Supreme Court last November. That same month, Invermere voted to go ahead with deer culls in a referendum, with 74 per cent in favour of the deer management strategy.
The Invermere Deer Protection Society is a member of the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition, which has been outspoken against culls in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere. The Animal Alliance of Canada is also a member of the Coalition.
Earlier this month, 10 clover traps were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook. Police found seven of the traps in bush nearby but six had been destroyed in a fire. Three remain missing. No arrests have been made in the Feb. 9 incident.
Mayor Ron McRae said with only one trap left, the cull is over.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Anti-cull group’s blitz threatens local tourism

posted Feb 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM
"Do you want to bring your kids to the deer-killing capital of B.C. for spring break?" That's the message the Animal Alliance of Canada is promising to bring to Calgary newspapers if the City of Kimberley gives any indication that there will be more deer culls.
The City is currently culling 30 deer from Kimberley's urban deer population (see related story, page 5).
The Bulletin reached Liz White from the Animal Alliance in Toronto on Thursday.
White confirmed that a campaign is being put together to impact tourism in the Kootenays.
However, she says the campaign won't start yet as she has heard that the City of Kimberley voted not to invest any more money into deer culls and will invest $2,500 this year in education on wildlife conflict.
City CAO Scott Sommerville confirmed that the vote took place.
"During budget deliberations at our Committee of the Whole Meeting on Tuesday, February 25, Council recommended that staff not budget for future culls," he said. "In place of the funding that would have gone towards culls, $2,500 will be put towards educational programs. The first piece of education will be to inform schoolchildren of how to avoid conflict with deer during fawning and rutting seasons.
“The Urban Deer Advisory Committee will still make recommendations to Council on how to best deal with the urban deer issue.”
“The fact is they are moving in the right direction, but that could change on a dime,” White said. “If it does, we are looking at hiring a company to help us with a campaign to look at how we could impact tourists in Calgary. We will make it clear to Kimberley that is what we are going to do. It would be better if we could bring everyone to the table to reduce deer human conflict. If Kimberley had made the decision to not proceed with culls, it would be different.
“In the end Kimberley is the one community that has tried alternatives such as hazing. It’s clear there is interest on Council to have that happen. We could work together with Kimberley to make it a model community for a comprehensive policy.”
White says that killing 15 deer in Marysville and 15 in Chapman Camp isn’t going to make “a hill of beans of difference” in the human ungulate conflict issue.
“When you trap you don’t necessarily get the aggressive deer. I’ve got to ask, why spend money if it isn’t effective?”
But White says Animal Alliance is definitely prepared to go ahead with the ad campaign if Kimberley decides to keep culling as part of their management plan.
“If Kimberley decides to go with another cull, we have to ask parents if they want to bring their kids to Kimberley for spring break. I think we can make a pretty strong case to convince parents not to come. Do you really want to bring your kids to the capital of deer culls? I don’t think you do.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Oak Bay fine jumps for feeding deer


Wildlife 2

Feeding deer in Oak Bay is going to get more expensive. Oak Bay councillors have agreed to increase the fine for feeding deer within municipal boundaries to $300 from $100 for a first offence. Fines for second and subsequent offences will be $500.

VICTORIA - Feeding deer in Oak Bay is going to get more expensive.
Oak Bay councillors have agreed to increase the fine for feeding deer within municipal boundaries to $300 from $100 for a first offence. Fines for second and subsequent offences will be $500.
It was felt that we needed to send a very strong message to anyone who is feeding deer, because it just makes the problem worse,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.
It also is very unhealthy for the deer, who get used to grain or whatever it is they are being fed and then are unable to go back to a more natural diet.”
The fine was set at $100 in 2010 when Oak Bay last amended its animal control bylaw to prohibit feeding the likes of deer, rabbits and raccoons. Since that time, staff have begun to tally the costs associated with deer removal and disposal, and have found that the costs merit a fine increase.
Jensen expects staff to bring back the bylaw amendments next week.
He said he has heard only anecdotal reports of people feeding deer.
The municipality disposed of about 40 deer in 2013 at an estimated cost of $130 each for a total of about $5,000.
So far this year, if we continue at the pace that’s been set halfway through February, we’re going to exceed the 40, and we might see as many as 50 deer killed, mostly on our roads,” Jensen said. “There have been as many as six this year where police have attended and had to put the animal down because of extreme injuries.”
Oak Bay is working with the Capital Regional District on a deer management strategy, endorsed by council last November, that will include a deer cull later this year. Part of the program includes public education, and updating of bylaws and bylaw enforcement, say municipal staff.
Before a cull is undertaken, the municipality will have to undertake a deer count and create a plan based on the count.
Under the deer cull, the municipality will partner with the CRD to have 25 deer trapped and killed, with the venison, hide, antlers and hooves going to Songhees First Nation. The cull could happen in the fall at the earliest, Jensen said.
The aim of the $12,500 initiative is to reduce the number of deer killed by automobiles and to appease residents who have long complained about deer taking over backyards, munching on garden shrubs and flowers, and devouring homegrown vegetables.
Oak Bay’s new fine structure is not out of line with those fines for feeding deer in other municipalities, according to a staff report. Fines in other municipalities include: Central Saanich, $250; Esquimalt, $100; Saanich, $100; Victoria, $300; Kimberley, $500; and Invermere, $100 for a first offence and $250 subsequently.
In Cranbrook, it’s not treated as a ticketable offence but, subject to prosecution with fines of up to $10,000 on conviction.
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