B.C. SPCA speaks out against Oak Bay deer cull

Cull would simply shift animals around, animal advocates say

Following Oak Bay council’s support of a partial cull of urban deer, the B.C. SPCA voiced strong opposition to the strategy.

In a letter to council, an excerpt from which was posted to the B.C. SPCA’s website on Saturday, the organization wrote that using lethal measures to control deer populations is “not a sustainable or evidence-based option, in particular for this type of urban area.”

“By conducting a cull you’re just going to have other deer moving into the territory,” said Sara Dubois, the B.C. SPCA’s manager of wildlife services.

A more appropriate measure, she said, would be to target individual animals that have shown aggressive behaviour toward humans and have them removed by the provincial Conservation Officer Service, similar to a problem bear or cougar.

The urban deer issue in Greater Victoria, and specifically Oak Bay, has created tension in the community between frustrated homeowners and gardeners who support lethal action to reduce the population, and those who support more humane methods or doing nothing.

While certain people have called for action to be taken soon addressing the perceived problem, Dubois said, the B.C. SPCA would rather investigate what is causing deer to stay in pockets of Oak Bay and other areas in greater numbers than in past years.

She pointed to a Winnipeg study on urban deer that included tracking certain animals with GPS. It found deer congregated in certain areas because they were being fed by humans. In recent years some areas of southern Manitoba jacked up the fines for feeding deer to $500 to try and combat the problem.

Oak Bay’s bylaw prohibiting the feeding of deer – adopted in January 2010, it also includes racoons and feral rabbits – is complaint-driven, but has resulted in just one call and no tickets issued in the past six months. The fine is $50.

As Oak Bay prepares to work with the CRD on a limited cull situation using a capture-and-euthanize method, anti-cull advocates remain active around the region.

Kelly Carson, spokesperson for advocacy group Deersafe, said the CRD has received a petition containing 1,631 signatures of residents opposed to the use of a Clover trap and bolt-gun method to reduce the urban deer population.

Members of the volunteer group, who supported an anti-cull rally at Oak Bay municipal hall last week that attracted about 200 people, continue to attend various community events to secure more names for their petition.

“We’ll be here until the humane solutions are implemented and they stop talking about a cull,” Carson said.

To view the excerpted B.C. SPCA letter, visit bit.ly/17TZGtk.

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