Thursday, November 29, 2012

CRD TO LEAD BYLAWS IN REGION CONCERNING DEER

CRD, not municipalities, to devise next steps on deer

 Regional district should provide leadership on issue, chairman says.

By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist November 29, 2012

Deer lie on the grass at Uplands Golf Club. The CRD is considering solutions to deer in urban and rural areas.

Deer lie on the grass at Uplands Golf Club. The CRD is considering solutions to deer in urban and rural areas.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist 

The buck bounced back to the Capital Regional District board Wednesday in the ongoing debate over deer problems.

Instead of giving municipalities the next shot at deer-deterrent bylaws - which must be in place before the province will consider a trap-and-kill program or any changes to hunting regulations - the CRD board will first take a crack at coming up with some regional solutions.

"I don't think it's appropriate to send the report directly from this committee to municipal councils," said CRD board chairman Geoff Young, after 16 presentations from members of the public were made to the planning, transportation and protective services committee.

"It should be something the CRD board is prepared to stand behind."

The report distills recommendations from the citizens advisory committee, which looked at possible solutions to deer in urban and rural areas. Some measures could be taken by municipalities, while others would need provincial approval.

Young said the regional district should provide leadership by coming up with information on deer-resistant plantings or a model bylaw prohibiting feeding deer.

The CRD could also lead discussions with the Transportation Ministry about speed limits in areas where there are deer collisions and ask the federal government about approval for immuno-sterilization drugs, suggested Young.

"Managing wildlife and invasive species is something we are going to have to do as a developed area," Young said. "This board should provide some leadership because it clearly crosses municipal boundaries."

Directors should look at what has worked in other urban centres and what measures are already in place in Greater Victoria municipalities, said Saanich Coun. Vic Derman.

View Royal Mayor Graham Hill agreed that the report should be clarified and sent to the board.

"I see this as a work in progress," he said. "There's not going to be a silver shotgun shell."

About 50 people were at the meeting. The majority of speakers wanted deterrents.

Several said Victorians are becoming increasingly intolerant of wildlife and unwilling to make concessions such as planning for wildlife corridors.

"Once all the green space and wildlife is gone, it will be too late," Val Boswell said.

Development is a major problem, said Dale Lovell. "Deer have a place here. They were here before us."
The deer population on Vancouver Island is about one-quarter of what it was in 1980, said Tony Rose, who scoffed at reports that deer are dangerous. "Like any wild animal, you have to treat deer with caution, but they are not dangerous," he said. "Guns are dangerous."

But Dawn Sutherland, who was representing the Victoria Master Gardeners Association, said complaints from members are soaring.

"We have found there are no deer-proof or reliably deer-resistant plants. Every year, damage is reported on plants thought to be immune," she said. "A regional deer management plan can only be effective if it includes a significant deer population reduction."

Some called for total extermination.

"By definition, wild deer encroaching into civilized areas and farmland are vermin," said landscape designer Lynn Morton. "Get rid of them - all of them - the sooner the better."

Monday, November 26, 2012

The CRD is Not "Seeking" Public Input, They are Begrudgingly Allowing It

Public input sought on CRD deer report

Two months after a citizens advisory group put forward its recommendations for deer management in the Capital Region, the province has told affected municipalities to choose their own actions to take on overpopulation.
In September, the Capital Regional District's planning, transportation and protective services committee asked for provincial, federal and First Nations input on options that required inter-jurisdictional approval, such as a controlled public hunt.
But at an Oct. 3 meeting, provincial staff said any decisions must first come from municipal councils.
"The sense we got from both the federal government and the province was, 'Don't come and ask us to look at doing anything until you've done what you need to do locally,'" said Andy Orr, CRD spokesman.
Federal government and First Nations representatives did not attend the meeting, the report states.
Committee members will vote on Wednesday (Nov. 28) to allow staff to present the deer management report to municipal councils. The CRD's committee of the whole will also need to approve the recommendation.
The report breaks down the options into four categories: conflict reduction (such as fencing and anti-feeding bylaws), population reduction (such as capturing or culling), deer-vehicle collision mitigation (such as lowering speed limits) and public education. It is then up to each municipality to decide what measures to take to deal with the issue.
"The CRD could be instrumental in implementing the recommended management strategy, most notably as the information provider to municipalities on implementing deer management measures," the report states.
"The region could also take on the monitoring, reporting and evaluation functions, including administering the recommended oversight committee."
The CRD does not currently have a wildlife management service, and any staff work would require funding, the report states.
The committee meeting takes place Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m. at the CRD building, 625 Fisgard St. There will be an opportunity for public input.
To register to speak at the meeting, visit crd.bc.ca and search "deer management."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CRD PUTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEER ON THE MUNICIPALITIES

Conflict reduction management options, including fencing, landscaping alternatives, anti-feeding bylaws and repellants appear to be best addressed at the municipal level due to jurisdictional authority in consideration of the recommended changes. Similarly, as municipalities are the controlling jurisdiction over local roads, they are best positioned to adopt recommended infrastructure and administrative recommendations to address deer-vehicle collision mitigation.

Due to the distributed nature of the deer population and associated conflicts across the region, it is also appropriate for the decision on the option of capture and euthanize to be made at the municipal government level. It is possible that the CRD could assist in coordinating the provincial approvals required for those municipalities that choose to apply this option.

from Staff Report, CRD Deer Managment page:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

PROVINCE WANTS MUNICIPALITIES TO DO MORE ABOUT DEER

Municipalities told to do more about deer before asking province for help



By Judith Lavoie, timescolonist.com November 21, 2012

Municipalities must take the bull by the horns — or the buck by the antlers — before they can ask for provincial help in solving their deer problems, says a Capital Regional District report going to directors next week.
Bylaws prohibiting deer feeding and allowing higher fences, combined with public education about repellents and landscaping options, should be in place before either municipalities or the CRD goes to the province asking for changes to hunting regulations or a trap and kill program, the report says.
“In the case of population control measures, provincial approval is required, but conflict reduction measures need to be in place prior to qualifying for such approval,” it says, adding, “Conflict reduction measures are largely within the jurisdiction of local governments.”
The report takes the multitude of recommendations from the Citizens Advisory Committee — a group formed this year to address concerns about the growing number of urban deer — and distills them into lists of what is possible at the local level and what needs provincial approval.
“We needed to determine what was feasible and not feasible. How does it hit the ground,” said Bob Lapham, CRD general manager of planning.
Some of the more controversial proposals — such as professional sharpshooting and reducing distance regulations for firearms and bows — have been effectively scrapped. The report says those measures are considered socially unacceptable and unfeasible because of safety risks.
The CRD does not like the idea of being given authority to deal with aggressive deer, which is seen by municipalities as a form of provincial downloading.
“Delegation of such authority would come with added insurance, liability, firearms, staff training and other issues that municipalities are unlikely to willingly assume,” the report says.
Capturing and relocating deer has been dismissed because deer do not travel well and deer contraception is not available in Canada at this time, said Marg Misek-Evans, regional planning manager at the CRD.
However, some municipalities may choose to go it alone and ask the province for action on hunting regulation changes or culling with a clover trap and bolt gun.
“For people that worry this is an endless loop, options are available to municipalities right away,” Lapham said.
The question is whether municipalities want to act individually or regionally, he said.
“There are a lot of steps that can be taken in more rural areas. In urban areas, it is more challenging,” he said.
The report will go the CRD’s planning, transportation and protective services committee on Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m. Members of the public will be able to speak at that meeting.
The recommendation is for CRD staff to make presentations to councils before the report returns to the committee with municipal feedback. The committee will then make recommendations to the CRD board.
In Oak Bay, where there has been increasing concern over garden munching and aggressive animals, Mayor Nils Jensen said he hoped leadership and action would come from the CRD.
“The problem with a patchwork of solutions is deer do not recognize municipal boundaries,” he said.
The problem could be addressed by subregions as issues on Saanich Peninsula are different from the core, Jensen said.
“But we are certainly determined to take some action.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MUNICIPALITIES WANT PROVINCE TO TAKE THE HEAT OFF THEM

Penticton puts deer cull on hold

By Steve Kidd - Penticton Western News
Published: November 20, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: November 20, 2012 2:13 PM
Deer wandering the streets of Penticton shouldn’t be worried about a cull of their numbers, at least not for a while yet.
While deer counts and other investigations continue, city staff has recommended to council that no further action be taken, at least until a lawsuit against the district of Invermere has been settled.
Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said the lawsuit brought against his community by the Invermere Deer Protection Society is seeking to overturn resolutions made by their council, on the grounds that not enough consultation and investigation of the problem has been done. As a side issue, the society is seeking pain and suffering damages, citing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Since all communities are following the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Environment, a decision against Invermere would put them all in the same boat, resulting in a general freeze by municipalities on any further action.
“That may have been their intention,” said Taft, who feels the lawsuit may have been filed as more of a threat. “At one point they said if we promised not to do any culls in the near future they would hold the lawsuit and not go any further.”
Invermere now has a permanent deer management committee and is continuing with deer counts to gather information for a possible future cull or other action.
Mayor Dan Ashton said it is time that the province and Environment Minister Terry Lake took a more active hand.
“This is a provincial issue, we don’t have any control over wildlife issues,” he said. “Now all of a sudden a municipality is charged and defending itself. In my opinion, the province has to step up to the plate here … either delegate that authority or they themselves take on the responsibility of dealing with an issue that is going to continue to grow.”
Ashton said he hopes the province is not only listening to the City of Penticton, but listening to all the communities that are being affected by the urban deer problem.
“A simple way the city would have to get engaged with this is there may have to be a shotgun opening, extended season,” said Ashton. “We do not allow the discharge of firearms in the city core, but in the vineyards and the orchards, there may be an opportunity as there was before, but again, we have to work in conjunction with the province.”
Anthony Haddad, director of development services, suggested city council might want to do a survey to gauge what actions the community would like to address the deer population.
“This will most certainly be a requirement of the ministry prior to the issuance of any permits and should be considered before this matter is moved forward,” said Haddad.
Future Penticton deer counts might be done over the course of a week. The initial spring and fall counts conducted by the city spotted just 20 and 49 deer respectively, which Haddad suggests is not representative.
“Most likely, based on the complaints we received, the numbers are higher,” he said. “Municipalities are learning as they go that it is more appropriate to do two to three counts within a week … to better reflect an average.”
Offering his own anecdotal evidence, Ashton, agreed it is difficult to count the transient deer population, noting that Grand Forks has tried using paint ball guns to move the deer along. He suggested marking them during multiple counts.
“I had to stop on South Main as 12 deer walked across the road right in front of me,” said Ashton. “It is very difficult, we may have to look at how we do this and get a more accurate count.”


Friday, November 16, 2012

Re: CRD and the Pursuit of Control

[The] Capital Regional District has overstepped it's authority, and it's mandate. It has committed an offence so serious that it could be prosecuted, for spending tax-payer money, and trampling citizen-rights in the pursuit of PR control of an issue which it doesn't even have direct legislative control over, but seeks to represent itself as doing so!

Firstly, the issue is a divisive one, and there are residents in the CRD for it, and residents against it - that is not in debate. The debate is the handling of the issue by the CRD, and now this outrageous slap in the face of democracy. We hope that you can be instrumental in publicizing this attempt to derail democracy. This is not about support for either side of the argument in question - it is about the democratic process and abuses of power. We know that you can focus on that.

The bare facts:

Some residents of urban areas in the Capital Regional District began to notice deer moving into their areas over the last few years. To some, this is a delight, to others it is a nuisance. Those who fell into the "perceived as a nuisance" category, began to complain to their local Councils that "something needed to be done" to rid them of deer in their urban area. At the same time, farmers in the rural areas, who had failed to take the measures necessary to prevent deer from ingressing on their land, were complaining of losses of crops, and seeking redress from Councils for financial losses.  The municipalities mainly side-stepped the issue, (note that certain Councillors had already indicated a bias in sympathy with citizens who wished to see the deer removed by any method necessary), but when it became clear that pressure was mounting (from both sides of the argument - for and against), the municipalities deferred any responsibility for descision-making on the problem to the CRD.

The CRD - puffed up with it's own importance - relished it's moment in the sun! A chance to play God! And that's exactly what it proceeded to do...  It chose to ignore the fact that it was outside it's own mandate as a District Council as 
under Provincial Acts it is directly prohibited from dealing with legislating an animal control issue when the animal described falls under control of the crown (as set out in the Local Government Act), and it launched straight into setting up a fully-funded Citizen's Advisory Group to do just that! (A group which the public took no part in electing, but which was appointed directly by certain Councillors within CRD who had already indicated that they were far from bi-partisan on the subject). Note that any members of the group who were neutral at the outset resigned during the process because the process was so clearly tainted with bias that they didn't feel they could be part of it. This is a matter of record.  The CRD then, having appointed a group which was hand-selected, and already put in place by Councillors who were openly partisan, sought to repeatedly ignore representations from groups and individual citizens which it didn't wish to hear from - and extended invitations to groups and individuals which it DID want to hear from (there is ample documentation of this from both the shunned groups and individuals upon request). It then proceeded to PAY the "Citizens' Advisory Group" thousands to "consider" the issue (financials available upon enquiry), and waste futher thousands in literature, and online outreach to obtain the answer that it clearly wanted to see from the outset... and all outside it's legislated mandate. Not only is that clear partisanship, it's also fraud.

Finally, now the piece-de-resistance. The CRD has discovered that the groups and individuals which it had sought to ignore, or to dismiss, have been seeking to present their side of the argument to individual municipalities, and the CRD has REACHED OUT TO BLOCK THAT FROM HAPPENING. Yes, that's right - the CRD is now telling municipalities which citizens it will allow them to hear in representation on the subject.  Citizens who wish to speak to their own elected municipal Councillors now have to SEEK PERMISSION FROM THE CRD TO DO SO! The CRD has instructed the municipalities not to accept appointments with citizens who wish to speak regarding the issue unless the Councillor or Council has received the permission of the CRD to hear them! When the CRD has vetted their representation, it will allow the municipalities to proceed with accepting an appointment with the citizen, or NOT!

Clearly, this is an abuse of the democratic process so grotesque that it needs to be publicized far and wide. Whatever side of the issue an individual falls into, no citizen of the Province of BC should have to accept such an outrageous abuse of power and clear partisanship. Remembering of course that the whole process that CRD has been seeking to control actually falls outside of their legal remit to begin with, and should they proceed to seek to pass legislation they will be in direct contravention of the Local Government Act!

Further details and cataloguing of the events and decisions can be obtained from many individuals and groups, but your initial point of contact and research can be obtained here:

http://deersafevictoria.blogspot.ca/2012/10/crd-director-muzzles-deer-advocates.html

I am recommending that these people speak with the Ombudsman.

Regards,
Ann Daniels

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Lawsuit is Not Frivolous

Dear Editor:

The Invermere Deer Protection Society thanks Mayor Gerry Taft for his effort to explain the deer culling decision. 
 
His portrayal of the petition filed in BC Supreme Court as “frivolous” shows disdain for the judgment to allow the case to proceed, and disdain for the environment and for thoughtful citizens who appreciate and value wildlife in our community and are repulsed by the idea of a municipally sponsored, on-going slaughter and meat production program. There is no shame in sober second thought but doggedly pursuing the right to kill – perhaps.

On April 5, 2012, district lawyers sent a letter stating “the District of Invermere is not interested in negotiating a settlement of this matter”. The mayor talks of “lawsuit” and “damages” but does not reveal that a district bylaw is the main issue.
We met with the deer committee and they sent a nice thank you for “a great deal of information regarding urban deer management.”

Conservation Officer Service advises that avoiding conflict requires “simple behavioral changes” and the use of fencing and resistant species. That is why we provided information regarding education and other non-lethal methods of reducing conflict. The deer committee kept asking for “recommendations” in spite of our considerable effort. Now it is clear they were encouraged to engage and challenge – a disappointing diversion of energy. Sadly, in contrast to Cranbrook, Invermere is still waiting for the “public education program”. 
 
Why are municipalities so intent on accepting responsibility and possibly liability for the behaviour of wildlife? In the Wildlife Act “no right of action lies, and no right of compensation exists, against the government for death, personal injury or property damage caused by wildlife”. 
 
There is a wonderful new tool in wildlife management called “citizen science” – a component of a well-funded scientific study for the purpose of conservation. Local examples include observations of white tail deer in Kootenay National Park and wildlife in Crowsnest Pass; not the DOI deer count. The deer committee requested our “recommendations” about the planned count; however, they never provided the objective and methodology. 
 
We responded with information on counting in general including the recommendation from the Capital Regional District Deer Management Strategy that “there is no clear methodology to count deer in urban, rural or agricultural areas” and “volunteer estimates are likely unreliable and therefore not advisable”.

There is nothing frivolous in our concern that taxpayers and deer will pay the high cost for misguided determination to kill 150 animals. 

 
Sue Saunders
Invermere, B.C.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What to do if you hit a deer (with BC stats on wildlife collisions)

By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist November 4, 2012 7:02 AM


Deer, such as these on a Saanich lawn in May, are a controversial issue in the region.

Deer, such as these on a Saanich lawn in May, are a controversial issue in the region.

Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

Her eyes were wide open and unblinking. All struggles ceased after she fought unsuccessfully to stand up on the badly broken leg and it appeared as if now, lying in the ditch beside Oldfield Road, she knew this was the end.

Another deer hit by a vehicle, another shocked driver and bystanders wondering how to help.

"I really like deer. I have them in my yard," said the driver, who had not yet inspected the dented front of his car.

"I just don't want her to suffer. She must have been bedded down in the field and she came right out in front of me."

But who to call? The answer is either local police or B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.

But don't expect the deer to be whipped off in an animal ambulance. Unless the animal is on the move, it will be shot.

B.C. SPCA's Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre cannot take adult deer - although they take orphaned fawns - so adults either have to hobble away on their own or be put down, manager Kari Marks said.

"We can't take adult deer. They can't handle captivity. They get hyper-stressed if you try and enclose them, and fling themselves against the wall to get out," she said. "Broken legs are almost impossible to fix. You put a cast on and they just kick it off."

When a deer is hit, it will often go into a state of shock and then its heart gives out, she said.

"For us, that sometimes looks as if the deer is calm."

October and November are the worst months for vehicle-animal collisions because it is darker during commuting hours and often wet. It is also rutting season.

"It's a time when the animals are still really active. They haven't settled down for their winter rest," Marks said. "So just be vigilant and slow down. Almost expect them round the next corner."

When one deer jumps out, look for the next one, as they rarely travel alone, she said.
Wild ARC does take other animals hit by vehicles, which account for about 25 per cent of intakes.

"Cars are the enemy. They are the biggest predator of animals in our urban wildlife," she said.

Owls and hawks, attracted by rodents, are frequent victims, she said.

But a warning to would-be Good Samaritans: If you bring an injured animal, such as a raccoon or squirrel, to the centre, transport it in the trunk because many will defend themselves vigorously.

"We've had to do things like extract squirrels from under dashboards," Marks said.

Drivers are covered for damage to their vehicles through their comprehensive policies, ICBC spokeswoman Tamara McLean said.

"If you have comprehensive insurance, you will be covered," she said. "If you hit an animal, you hit an animal. It doesn't matter if it's a lion or you-name-it."

Although animal crashes are increasing in the Capital Regional District, there is a corresponding increase in all crashes, according to ICBC statistics.

There were 300 animal crashes and 17,310 total crashes in 2007, which increased to 380 animal collisions and 17,830 total collisions in 2011.

On Vancouver Island and throughout B.C., animal crashes have increased slightly, but the number of accidents has decreased. In 2007, there were 1,530 animal crashes among 36,950 accidents on Vancouver Island. In 2011, there were 1,910 animal crashes and 36,110 total collisions.

In B.C. as a whole, there were 9,900 animals crashes among 280,510 accidents in 2007. In 2011, there were 10,050 animal crashes among 258,370 accidents.

An awkward by-product of animal collisions are deer that stagger to nearby properties to die.

Any deer that dies on a private property in the CRD becomes the responsibility of the property owner. Unless it is on a boulevard or roadway, that can mean paying for a private hauler to take it away.

"Technically, it's the homeowner's responsibility and, in an absolutely lawful world, the animal crematorium would come and pick it up - at a price," said Marks, adding that Wild ARC fields numerous calls from homeowners who can't believe there is no method to dispose of a carcass.

Municipal officials quietly advise property owners that if the deer were to magically find its way to the side of the road, the problem would disappear.

But moving a large dead buck that is starting to rot is no easy matter, said one Greater Victoria resident as he considered whether dragging it on a tarpaulin would work. There's also the question of how elderly people or those in fragile health could manage to dispose of the carcasses, he said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com


Friday, November 2, 2012

DEER CULL BASED ON EMOTION

Dear Editor:

In June 2010, some of us began our individual protest by talking to council members, writing letters and forming the first anti-cull Facebook page. The Invermere Deer Protection Society came together in January 2012, with the shocking Christmas announcement that the District of Invermere would start killing deer.

We’d na├»vely expected common sense would prevail, but the district made the misguided decision to slaughter deer in a doomed attempt to resolve growing fear and impatience with wildlife. From a viral video, an inflammatory Union of B.C. Municipalities resolution, a Ministry of Environment response and reports, eight short deer committee meetings, a biased opinion survey, and “revisions” of the Kimberley final report – they never questioned the myth of “too many urban deer”.

They ignored the Ministry of Environment advice regarding collaboration and focused all funds and effort toward killing, no matter what the cost to our community. They misused unreliable survey results, referenced anecdotes, and ignored thoughtful protest to justify, defend and promote killing. Even before the first committee was formed, it was assumed slaughter would please the majority throughout.

In the East Kootenays and all northwestern U.S. states, mule deer populations are declining. All efforts are now focused towards increasing their numbers. There is no overpopulation in Invermere, and because the slaughterhouse killing method was never meant to be used outside of controlled conditions, culling is not “euthanasia” (killing animals humanely to relieve their suffering).

The district argues that one benefit of killing is the provision of meat. Unwitting Invermere taxpayers then participated in a covert, non-profit, seasonal meat processing industry including slaughter, butchering and meat distribution. This is agriculture, not wildlife management.

So we are left with property damage and fear of injury as reasons to kill. Yes, there is risk and managing risk is an established science. Reducing the number of deer may reduce the likelihood of an encounter or damage, but will not reduce severity. If we fence to exclude, educate and implement humane, long-term, non-lethal measures we can successfully reduce the already low risk.

If it is merely our intolerance at issue, the district has done little to educate citizens to live with, accommodate and protect wildlife. In a 2009 Species At Risk Report, Invermere’s official community plan is criticized because there is “minimal allowance for wildlife habitat and movement corridors within the plan”.

When our injunction stopped the killing, rather than ending the conflict, council chose to fight on and vilify the Deer Protection Society in their determination to slaughter even a few.

We recently joined with other groups to form the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition. Our mission remains “advocating and supporting non-lethal deer management through education, research and political action.”

Sue Saunders
Invermere Deer Protection Society