Ben Wolfe

Deer report has no effect on plan to cull

Meat will be used by local First Nations

Oak Bay will stay the course on a deer cull pilot project after an update from municipal staff this week, despite one dissenting voice.

The report from staff was to keep council in the loop on Oak Bay’s progress in the ongoing Capital Regional District Deer Management Strategy.

The district is still fine tuning its application for a permit to cull 25 deer in the district in the pilot project that is part of that management plan.

Coun. Pam Copley was the lone member who was opposed to moving forward with the pilot project – by simply receiving the report – though all of council expressed at least some concern.

“I think we need to vet the pros and cons through a public process,” Copley said.

Oak Bay are “loners in this pilot project,” she added, a sentiment echoed by her peers on council.

“I just don’t see how it’s going to be effective if we don’t have co-operation.”

The report outlined yearly increases in deer deaths along with management strategies other than the planned cull including signage and speed boards and strengthening bylaws by increasing fines for feeding deer and reviewing fence heights (they were deemed appropriate).

Public education included two CRD awareness brochures as well as ongoing meetings with concerned residents.

Staff plan to discuss the Regional Deer Management Strategy budget with the CRD this week as there is added cost to meat processing that would come out of the Oak Bay 2015 budget.

Oak Bay staff have met with Esquimalt and Songhees Nations who indicated they’re keen to use the deer for their own programs. Oak Bay staff is also attempting to ascertain the amount of aid that would come from the province.

Council originally agreed to the pilot project to cull, over concern  for the health and well being of the community with human interaction with aggressive deer and vehicle collisions.

No action could lead to a population boon that creates unhealthy and desperate animals, said Coun. Murdoch.

“No matter how many signs we put up the deer will keep having babies,” Murdoch said. “There’s a cost here of not doing something.”

Council simply received the information, meaning their plan to move forward with the entire plan including the cull, as indicated last November remains.

Read the full staff report, including information from the province, online at oakbay.ca under municipal hall agendas and minutes, staff reports for Oct. 14.

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