Letter: Many options available for deer management

Reader's letter misrepresents options available for deer management

Re: Beauty contest causes inaction to reign, Oak Bay News, letters, June 3

A recent letter to your paper unfortunately promotes a false choice to manage our indigenous deer population in Oak Bay – a lethal cull or do nothing.

Far from it.

In fact, there’s a range of measures that can and should be taken to reduce human/deer conflicts. These include building public awareness about avoiding confrontations with protective does during the fawning season and with bucks during the breeding season, using deer resistant garden plants and installing cost-effective mesh fencing for special plantings.

It also involves reducing speed and driving defensively (a measure that will also benefit our children, pets and other wildlife) and, when scientifically warranted, using a contraceptive vaccine to reduce the annual deer birth rate.

The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society continues to promote these proven measures, knowing that, collectively, they will benefit everyone.

Deer culls, wherever they have been tried, have proven ineffective, expensive and divisive, just like Oak Bay’s was in 2015.

And those divisions only continue to widen with name-calling, whether it’s deer-huggers, Bambi-lovers or anti-cull advocacy group. If we’re going to resolve this issue as a community, the hyperbole has to stop. Tolerance, flexibility, civility and a willingness to look at facts, alternatives and scientific options are needed.

That will require our municipal leaders to lead. Oak Bay council has had a multi-faceted deer management proposal that can reduce the conflicts, in front of it since January 2016 (available on the UWSS website).

We believe the vast majority of Oak Bay residents would like to move forward, cost-effectively and without resorting to killing animals needlessly. Council’s recent decision to adopt a plan first rather than throw money at some unidentified future solution could be a step in the right direction.

One of the joys of living in Oak Bay is our proximity to indigenous wildlife, whether birds, deer, raccoons, otters, seals or whales.

The responsibility that accompanies that joy is accommodating and adapting to our wildlife, particularly if you’re lucky enough to live in proximity to prime wildlife habitat, whether parks, golf courses, wooded property or the sea-shore.

Manage wildlife conflicts? Certainly. But let’s use facts and science to inform our decisions.

Kristy Kilpatrick,

Vice President

Urban Wildlife

Stewardship Society,