Deer cull plan moves ahead in Oak Bay

Council gives unanimous vote in favour of CRD plan of action

A pair of deer eat away at a hedge in a yard along Cotswold Road in the Uplands district in Oak Bay.

Council gives unanimous vote in favour of CRD plan of action

Oak Bay will be culling its deerly beloved soon, as the region moves forward on a plan to euthanize part of the deer population.

More than 40 residents appeared at a meeting on Monday when council made its decision to become the pilot project for the Capital Regional District’s deer cull. The vote asked the CRD to move ahead with a plan of action for a cull, and also addressed the 10 requests that were proposed by the Regional Deer Management Strategy.

For the first time this year, the newly mandated 20-minute public participation period hit its time limit with heated arguments for and against the cull. This, after more than 100 residents and 33 speakers already attended Oak Bay’s Committee of the Whole special deer meeting on Wednesday, June 12.

“I’m really not delighted at the thought of killing deer — I wanted to relocate the animals, but the province says that is not an option,” said Coun. John Herbert. “My principal concern is that a child could be killed. And then, everyone will say ‘What the hell have you people been doing?’”

All council members spoke passionately about the issue and the emotional conflicts involved, though only Coun. Pam Copley spoke against the cull. In the end, the motion to create the plan passed unanimously. Some horrified residents scolded council out-of-turn, while others applauded the vote.

“Deer do not respect the municipal boundaries, and it’s clear to me that we need a multi-pronged approach here,” said Copley. “I wish the spay-(vaccine) was an option, and we have not heard enough about what the First Nations groups have to say.”

Council also voted to support increased public education and education on the use of repellent, as well as gaining input from the CRD on how to handle aggressive deer, reviewing road signage and speed limits in the region, tracking complaints and formalizing participation in the Regional Deer Management Strategy oversight committee. Council abstained from taking a stance on the region’s idea to pursue fencing subsidies, or change hunting regulations.

While council has been criticized for choosing flowers over wildlife, Mayor Nils Jensen says the issue is much more serious.

“If this really was just an argument of esthetics, as some people have tried to make it sound like, I would vote against this plan,” he said. “This is a matter of health and safety, and what is inhumane is using cars to cull the deer. It’s just not right, and it’s up to us to make this hard decision.”

As part of the plan to cull, council also passed a motion to have the CRD consider the request by the Ahousaht First Nations off the West Coast of the Island. They would like to move the deer to an old-growth area where they would be hunted in a traditional manner.

Oak Bay residents planned to stage an “Outpouring of Love for the Deer” demonstration on Wednesday, June 26, 3-6 p.m. at the Oak Bay Municipal Hall. Coun. Kevin Murdoch was invited to attend.