Last week’s provincial government announcement that it would step up in the urban deer challenge facing numerous B.C. municipalities was met with favourable reaction on a number of fronts.
In particular, it was seen as an acknowledgement that the deer – wildlife, not domesticated animals – were a provincial responsibility.
The measure comes after repeated pleas from local governments – including Oak Bay – for assistance with the growing urban deer population, a request supported by the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
In response, the province has finally committed to creating Provincial Urban Deer Advisory Committee and providing other resources to help affected communities.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the committee will help ensure greater collaboration between municipalities and the province “and provide the resources necessary for communities to make informed choices about how to resolve urban deer issues.”
In addition, the province has committed $100,000 a year to help make it happen.
We’re all for co-operation and collaboration – goodness knows many things would get done a lot more efficiently with more of it. And we completely agree the often contentious debate around local deer will be better served with current, factual information about how best to control the urban deer population.
But $100,000? For the entire province? This is a drop in the bucket for the various initiatives and measures that municipalities, farmers, homeowners and private organizations have laid out in an effort to mitigate the negative effects of urban deer.
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, who has long called on the province to accept their responsibility for the deer, called the measures “a first step. The amount is not as important as the acceptance of the principle.”
But let’s hope once the province gets to the table, it also steps up the financial support to make the other resources workable.