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Deer, feeding fine on the rise – but who will pay?
Feeding deer in Oak Bay will become costly as the fine for the illegal act is going up to $500 for repeat offenders.
Oak Bay council decided to change the current $100 fine to a two-tiered system of $300 for a first offence and $500 for subsequent offences. Raising the fine is part of the Capital Regional District’s deer management strategy that Oak Bay signed on to in November, which includes killing up to 25 deer.
The cost of removing injured and dead deer is about $130 each, costing the municipality almost $5,000 last year when 40 deer were disposed of.
Mayor Nils Jensen welcomed the higher fines.
“We have to send a message that we are going to get tougher with a first offence and so on,” Jensen said. “Leaving the fine as it is currently, doesn’t show council is serious about dealing with this.”
Coun. Tara Ney wanted an even higher fine.
“I would boot it up to $1,000,” Ney said. “Make it significant and send a message because we have a predicament in the community.”
However, an earlier motion setting the top fine at $400 was defeated four to three as it was too rich for the majority of council.
Coun. Carine Green was the sole councillor opposed to both motions.
“In all fairness to residents who feed deer, there should be education,” Green said. “I support higher fines but I am not supportive of $500 to $1,000 without educating the public.”
Jensen countered that bylaw officers have discretion with issuing tickets and will continue focusing on educating offenders, leaving ticketing as a last resort.
Oak Bay’s bylaw enforcement officer Ben Manning said he has not issued a ticket since Oak Bay’s animal control bylaw was amended in 2010 to prohibit feeding deer, raccoons and domestic rabbits.
“I had a couple of complaints of a really nice lady thinking she was doing a good thing, feeding deer, and I told her she had to stop,” Manning said. “Tickets are the last thing we want to give out. Voluntary compliance, that’s what we want.
Victoria has an agreement to help enforce bylaws in Oak Bay and Esquimalt. Victoria’s senior animal control officer Ian Fraser said they have never issued a ticket for feeding deer in Oak Bay.
Marion Cumming of DeerSafe agrees education should come before fines. She also questions if people with gardens would get into trouble for indirectly feeding deer.
“I have sown clover seeds in my lawn to draw them away from things I didn’t want them to eat,” Cumming said. “It’s like farmers planting lure crops.”
Council will cast a final vote on the issue at an upcoming regular council meeting.
Did you know?
The fine for feeding deer is set by each municipality and ranges throughout the province. The fine is $100 in Saanich and Esquimalt, $250 in Central Saanich, $300 in Victoria and $500 in Kimberley.
How to be deer-aware
Recently, Friends of Animals, BC SPCA, The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals and Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society published and distributed a pamphlet called Living with Deer to educate residents on what they should and shouldn’t do to combat the deer problem.
An electronic version is available at thevictoriavegan.com/deer.