Kelly Carson, the founder of DeerSafe Victoria, and Dana Livingstone, of the Wildlife Advocates Coolectivem have joined forces to spread a message about deer.
It’s time, they say, to stop the practice of culling urban deer populations and to instead follow Oak Bay’s example of immunocontraception (birth control) for the animals.
“Let’s be clear. Sooke does not cull deer and, for the most part, is a good example of learning to coexist with wildlife,” said Carson.
“It’s a healthy approach and one that we wish other municipalities would adopt. Right now, there are still too many places where deer complaints led to culling.”
Carson said that besides the fact that killing the deer is cruel and unnecessary, it just doesn’t work.
“What happens is that you get a temporary reduction of deer in the community. But then nature takes over and you have what is called a compensatory rebound,” said Carson.
She said female deer will begin having twins and even triplets in a natural phenomenon where nature tries to fill the void left by the culling. Before long, the numbers are right back to where they started.
As well, she pointed out that you can never cull enough deer to stop new animals from moving into the area to replace the animals you’ve killed.
“Municipalities are islands of urban development in an ocean of wildlife on Vancouver Island. You just can’t stop new animals from moving in.”
Imunocontraception, on the other hand, sees the deer disappear through attrition and doesn’t trigger the same rebound response.
DeerSafe took their message to the recent UBCM convention, but Carson fears that changing attitudes toward wildlife is an ongoing battle.
“This year the B.C. government has set aside $100,000 for deer control. First of all, that’s not enough money, and second, most of it will go to culling, which doesn’t work. That has to change.”
Livingstone is planning to deliver the message to Sooke council in December in an effort to preempt any calls for culling in the district.
“The community is growing very fast and you know that, sooner or later, someone is going to ask that something is done about the deer,” said Livingston.
“We just want to be one step ahead.”
Another, more immediate, concern for Livingston is the carnage that happens to deer on roadways.
“If you see a deer at the side of the road, realize that there are going to be more. Slow down and watch for them.”
Mainroad Group, the company responsible for highway maintenance and snow removal, reported that more than 600 deer strikes occurred on the lower Island last year.
There have been recent calls for developers to provide wildlife corridors as part of new subdivision plans and for the consideration of wildlife bridges over busy highways.