Deer plan provides workable solution

Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society offers alternative to cull

It’s far easier to complain about something than to take the initiative and actually do something about it. That’s why credit should be given to a new group that’s taken shape within the boundaries of Oak Bay.

A group of local citizens have formed the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society which last week launched the Oak Bay Deer Plan, a pilot program with the objective to limit birth of fawns using immuno-contraceptives.

The issue of deer and the problems encountered as development encroaches on wildlife’s habitat has presented a challenge for local governments across the province. The District of Oak Bay was the location of a Capital Regional District project earlier this year that saw a cull of 11 deer. The cull drove a wedge through the community, with residents split in their opposition and support of the cull.

There were numerous protests throughout the community and the pages of this newspaper have been filled with letters expressing opposing views on the cull.

The new Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society is aiming to move beyond the conflict and work towards a solution.

“Governments at all levels do have a massive job and we appreciate what they do, yet they’re always limited by budgets, by staff… and the experience and training of their staff,” said Oak Bay’s Bryan Gates, president of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

The group expects to have the Oak Bay Deer Plan in place by fall, with the goal being to trap 25 female deer, which would then be given the Spay-Vac immuno-contraceptive, which prevents a doe from conceiving for five to seven years.

The deer plan isn’t guaranteed to resolve all conflicts between humans and deer and the group will no doubt encounter their share of hurdles along the way, not the least of which will be securing the funding necessary to cover the project’s cost.

But the group has devoted the time and resources needed to put together a workable solution for a very real problem facing the community. And while that solution may not be perfect, it sure beats hurling insults and accusations at each other.