A tagged deer in Oak Bay, where the first run of the deer contraception program in Oak Bay. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Greater Victoria mayors reach urban deer standstill with province

CRD mayors unable to get meeting with minister responsible for urban deer management

Mayors of Greater Victoria are back to square one in exploring additional options for urban deer management.

In September, mayors from eight municipalities including Esquimalt, Saanich, Victoria, North Saanich, Sidney, View Royal, Oak Bay and Colwood penned a letter the the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments in hopes of arranging a meeting with Minster Doug Donaldson.

Leading up to the letter, the mayors discussed how a regional effort needed to be taken for deer management and that more municipalities should be able to participate in the experimental deer contraceptive program that is being tested in Oak Bay. Any form of wildlife management must go through the province.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria municipalities hope for region-wide effort to control deer population

The Township of Esquimalt spearheaded the effort, hosting a mayors’ luncheon to discuss the matter. Esquimalt and CFB Esquimalt have also conducted two counts as well as surveys and education campaigns to the public over four years to assess the deer issues in the area, and in an effort to be eligible for research funding from the province. In total these efforts cost the Township $63,500.

The surveys showed that the Township has 135 black tail deer, while the base has around 60. Comparatively, Oak Bay has between 78 and 128 deer. Esquimalt also learned that 52 per cent of residents have spent money to prevent deer from damaging their property, while 13 per cent have encountered aggressive behaviour from deer.

Despite this data and the collaborative letter, a meeting with Minister Donaldson has not been granted. Additionally, Donaldson was not able to meet with the mayors before or during the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities Conference.

“We’re feeling a bit frustrated because we not only want to speak about the challenge of the region, but also to the four-year process that the province has put as through,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins.

READ MORE: Esquimalt considers birth control for its deer population

On Oct. 8 a letter was penned back to the mayors from Jennifer Psyllakis, director of the Wildlife and Habitat Branch, suggesting that a meeting with staff members could be arranged. She also reminded mayors that funding for deer management fell under the Provincial Urban Deer Operational Cost-Share program (PUDOCS), which can provide funding either for operational projects and research projects.

“As your letter notes, the Municipality of Oak Bay’s current immuno-contraception project falls under the PUDOCS program funding eligibility criteria as a research project,” Psyllakis wrote. “This research trial is still underway and therefore the necessary data to determine if the program is successful and suitable for broader expansion is not yet available.”

The mayors were not satisfied with this response.

“I asked the mayors if they wanted to meet with staff,” Desjardins said. “They said no– staff meet with staff, we want a political discussion.”

In response to this letter, Esquimalt will be reaching out to Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“As a group of eight mayors we were very disappointed that we could not get a meeting, neither here nor at the UBCM with the minister responsible for wildlife management,” Desjardins said.

She added the mayors will now be seeking a meeting with Robinson with two tones: one to express concern that a meeting with the appropriate minister couldn’t be arranged, and two to express concern about what’s happening with the urban deer population.

“We want the province to step up,” Desjardins said.

Black Press reached out to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments on why a meeting couldn’t be arranged.

“Minister Donaldson understands the frustration expressed by the mayors regarding the problems that urban deer are causing within the Capital District,” said a ministry spokesperson in an emailed statement.

“We welcome an invitation for staff to meet with the mayors of Greater Victoria’s Capital Region regarding options on urban deer control. If options are not identified through discussions with staff, the Minister is pleased to discuss real or perceived barriers.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

BC Hydro reservoirs see record low levels across Vancouver Island

Hydro electric watersheds are at a third of their normal levels

Missing kids a common occurrence during large events, VicPD says

Children often reunited with parents quickly

Full buses leave Colwood woman fuming over commute from West Shore

BC Transit plans to add eight double-deckers in 2020, will rotate on 50 and 61 routes

Saanich councillor tries his hand at design with cycling T-shirt

Positive response has avid cyclist considering making more to share

B.C. Transit saves $300,000, scores 28 used fareboxes idle in California

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Camosun College for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Most Read