CRD issues call for deer team volunteers

Oak Bay touts need for deer management plan

Sharing your experience and expertise on how best to manage the deer population in the Capital Region is as easy as applying to join a new volunteer citizens advisory group.

The Capital Regional District needs 11 members of the public to develop a regional deer management strategy and action plan to address conflicts between humans and coast black-tailed deer and Columbian black-tailed deer in the region.

Based on feedback the CRD has received from residents, most of the conflicts are happening in Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich.

“We’re not agricultural but we have a very large deer population here now and growing quickly in Oak Bay,” said Oak Bay Coun. Kevin Murdoch, who sits on the district’s new environmental advisory committee.

The CRD published data in 2011 that revealed an estimated 85,000 black-tailed deer reside on the Island, including 25,000 to 45,000 which live in urban areas, Murdoch noted.

“I think there’s definitely a problem,” he said, noting that he regularly sees large families of deer frequent his neighbourhood.

The CRD board directed staff last November to flesh out the terms of reference for the creation of a deer management plan.

The deer team will be tasked with exploring possible short- and long-term strategies, such as fertility controls, that can manage ungulate population levels.

The hope is these strategies can address loss of commercial crops and public health and safety issues, such as collisions between vehicles and deer.

Deer aggression, disease transmission and encroachment on residential properties and the resulting vegetation loss will also be examined.

“It’s important to get feedback from a broad spectrum,” Murdoch said. “One of the advantages of using a community group model like that is you get a wide range of opinions that allows you to capture the concerns and issues … and have the information to make a good decision.”

A supporting team of experts is also being assembled to provide the advisory group with technical and scientific insight.

The group will likely work from April until July. Their final recommendations will be submitted to the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services committee before the report goes before the CRD board for consideration.

Volunteers will include an appointed chairperson, five representatives from Oak Bay, Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich, four from the Peninsula and two West Shore residents. Three will be commercial farmers.

To apply or learn more, go online to www.crd.bc.ca/deermanagement or email deermanagement@crd.bc.ca.

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