Oak Bay continues to take baby steps toward a deer cull.
In February, 10 clover traps were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook where they had just been transferred after use for a cull in the District of Elkford. Six were found nearby, most burned and destroyed. The theft delayed Kimberley’s planned cull of up to 30 mule deer and put a significant dent in the traps the province has to loan to communities licensed to cull.
Oak Bay staff are now preparing a report for council which will take a look at options for the district, should it decide to proceed with the cull.
“It’s not just about a cull,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “It’s a deer management pilot project. We’ve been working with the CRD. We have terms of reference to work through to complete the preliminary steps. Staff will report to council in September to chart the way forward.”
The lack of traps available for use from the provincial government has thrown a wrench into the planned fall cull.
“We’ve certainly had challenges. There are no traps, what do we do about that? Build our own, buy our own, wait for the provincial government? That’s something council will have to decide,” Jensen said.
The Capital Regional District has extended the mandate of the project to early 2015, allowing the pilot project to continue. “We continue to have support from the CRD. It’s a complex project, an important part of the process is the CRD evaluation of the process,” said Jensen.
“It’s a critical part of the whole process. It will allow other communities in the CRD to make their own decisions based on what happens in Oak Bay.”
As part of the overall management project, new signage has been put up on Lansdowne and Cadboro Bay roads. “There are two signs northbound and two signs southbound,” said Jensen. “Where the hot spots are.”
The speed reader board was also moved to a location on Cadboro Bay Road.
Despite vocal opposition from many Oak Bay residents, Jensen still believes a cull is part of the answer to controlling the deer population and reducing health and safety risks.
“In terms of last year, we had all time high numbers of deer that died on our roads and in people’s yards – this year, we’re ahead of that at this point. Last year there were 40, at the rate we’re going, we’re probably likely to see more than 50 carcasses collected,” said Jensen.
The mayor continues to get reports from residents about aggressive deer and said deer feces are causing problems in Oak Bay parks.
“Parents and grandparents are reluctant to take their children and grandchildren to the parks because of the presence of deer feces,” he said.
The cost of the cull of up to 25 deer, estimated at $12,500, may now be too low due to the delay, he said. “That is an issue council will have to examine.”
The delay is also expected to make the cull one of the hottest election issues Oak Bay has seen in recent years.
“Everything people are concerned about becomes an election issue,” said Jensen. “I’m assuming all issues will be election issues when it comes down to it.”
Jensen would not say if he will run for mayor again, only that he will make an announcement in September.