Deer in Oak Bay has been a controversial topic all year, with residents split between culling them or finding non-lethal ways to reduce the population.
Throughout the year, there have been many stories about deer getting hit by vehicles, aggressive deer attacking people and numerous letters to the editor about how the issue should be addressed.
After months of discussion, in November, Oak Bay council made a decision on the issue by becoming the first municipality in the Capital Regional District to formally join the district’s urban deer management pilot program. The plan includes spending $12,500 to cull up to 25 deer which will be butchered with the meat, hooves and antlers to be given to the Songhees Nation.
Many individuals and organizations have since expressed disapproval of council’s decision. Only Coun. Cairine Green voted against the plan, preferring another option that had a caveat that Oak Bay’s participation is “subject to any additional requests or conditions that council may ask the CRD to consider.”
Coun. Tara Ney was absent from the vote due to a medical leave.
BCSPCA manager of wildlife services Sara Dubois said shortly after the decision was made that Oak Bay’s approval for a cull is a “misguided, knee-jerk reaction.”
“We’ve heard from a lot of our supporters who are really upset with this deer cull,” Dubois said in November.
“Take the cull off the table and have a conversation with deer management experts,” Dubois added.
The Association for the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals also spoke out against the cull.
“You kill 25 in Oak Bay and 25 from Saanich will just walk in,” said executive director Lesley Fox. “This is a total waste of taxpayer money. Redirect the money being spent on the cull to help those specific homeowners who are complaining.”
On Nov. 23, DeerSafe Victoria organized a rally against the cull, which ended up in Mayor Nils Jensen’s front yard. He wasn’t home at the time.
“They have been provided with an appropriate public forum for them to express their concerns,” Jensen said on Nov. 25. “I have met with them numerously as a group and individually. It’s not appropriate to come to my home and disturb my neighbours.”
The use of SpayVac, a contraceptive vaccine was explored and the Protection of Fur Bearing Animals expressed possible financial support if council agreed to have no cull.
Jensen said SpayVac was something he was very interested in, but it’s an experimental drug and there isn’t enough science behind it. He said his and council’s main concern now is public safety.
“I heard a story about a child who came very close to being trampled on by deer. I have heard of dogs almost getting trampled on. Recently I heard of a cyclist who was struck by a deer and knocked off his bike,” Jensen said at the time. “(Council’s) responsibility is to deal with those issues in a fair and reasonable manner and that’s what we are doing.”