Mount Douglas area resident Livinia Rojas has an idea to keep the deer out of backyards and in Mount Douglas Park, by planting native, deer-friendly vegetation in the park.
Rojas presented to Saanich council as a delegation of one on Monday, floating the idea for a pilot project, in which Saanich would fund the purchase and planting of deer-friendly plants in Mount Douglas Park.
Rojas comes at it as an animal sympathizer who doesn’t want to see deer getting hurt on Gordon Head roads, she says.
“Some people seem to think I would plant non-native or invasive species but of course we would only plant native species the deer like,” she said. “Others ask me, what about the predators. And I say to that, wouldn’t you rather they were away from the houses?”
Council was mostly mum in their response.
While the idea to keep deer in Saanich is novel – the district is working in tandem with the Capital Regional District’s long-term deer management plan, which is currently exploring a spay and neuter vaccination program in Oak Bay this fall – Rojas has not approached Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, said the organization’s president, Darrell Wick.
The suggestion that deer are coming down from Mount Douglas Park to Gordon Head neighbourhoods is erroneous, Wick wrote in a letter to council.
“With all the people in the park, and their off-leash dogs, and the deer get scared, they clear out,” Wick said. “Any deer on Mount Doug are probably well away from trails, which isn’t a place anyone will plant anyways.”
The Friends of Mount Douglas, in partnership with the Saanich Pulling Together Program, has spent more than 15,000 hours removing invasive plants from Mount Douglas Park and continue to do so on a weekly basis.
“Volunteers are welcome to join us every Thursday morning,” Wick said.
He also said he doesn’t believe anyone has a true deer count.
“It’s all subjective, but walking in the park, it’s rare to see a deer compared to walking or driving around Gordon Head, where you’re sure to see them. That’s where they live. They much prefer the well-watered, tasty garden [vegetables] of Gordon Head,” he said.
For now, Rojas admits she has more to research for her plan, but what can Saanich lose, she asks.
“It’s native vegetation, it won’t hurt anything. I’m sure no one had dreamed about actually feeding the deer, but maybe we can keep them in the park.”