Many Oak Bay residents who love sharing space with deer, also recognize we need to address the increase in deer population, probably through a cull. However, the most recent staff report to council lists steps that should be taken first, with population reduction only a “potential outcome.”
For example, while some signs have been posted, Oak Bay could do a much better job of clearly identifying and signing high collision areas; and switching to deer-resistant plants has been proposed but not given adequate time to work.
The report says one reason for a cull is “poignant” deer deaths, and suggests “honouring” the deer by using the meat, antlers, hoofs and skin. Luring deer into clover traps in secluded areas at night and leaving them to thrash until daylight, when they will be wrestled to the ground, placed in a choke hold, and killed with a bolt gun to their heads, is not honouring them, and it is certainly not humane. Their last hours will be spent in terror.
Why is Oak Bay so anxious to jump to a solution on its own? Working with other municipalities is crucial, since deer don’t observe municipal borders. According to the report, the CRD wanted to terminate the project Sept. 30 but Oak Bay persuaded them to make funding available until March 2015. Despite 40 deer being killed by cars in Oak Bay in 2013, the population has not been noticeably reduced. Why would a one-time cull of 25 now be the magic number? Oak Bay seems to be rushing to meet self-imposed deadlines rather than first giving more of the options the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and its own chief administrative officer has identified a chance to be tried and assessed.