Editorial: Deer process runs in circles

Pushing decision on deer management back to municipalities delays the inevitable

Talk about passing the buck.

After a Capital Regional District citizens advisory board toiled to come up with solutions for the region’s booming deer population, the province added another hurdle.

For the past year, the deer committee has gone through a protracted process of seeking input from experts and citizens on options to control deer populations in urban, suburban and farmland areas across the CRD.

The committee arrived at a series of recommendations to reduce deer-human conflict, which emerge with garden and crop destruction, and collisions between deer and vehicles.

The Ministry of Environment, which has been reluctant to promise any funding toward a deer strategy, wants CRD staff to present the deer management report to the 13 CRD municipalities, and for those municipalities to decide how they want to handle deer in their neck of the woods.

This is spinning the process in circles. It was the municipalities in the first place, egged on by residents overrun with deer, that lobbied the CRD come up a coherent set of strategies, with the expectation that the province would help guide the process of implementing a mix of solutions – be it a cull, public education, better deer fencing or expanding hunting rights for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, among others.

Throwing it back on the municipalities seems at best a delay tactic. Councils tend to get bogged down in the public process, territory well hashed out at the deer committee. Do 13 municipalities need to individually re-debate the deer issue?

The province has clearly washed its hands of dealing with deer in cities. The CRD needs to take the lead and sit down with municipal staff to work out what is desirable and legal – and what bylaws need changing to implement a deer strategy that best fits individual districts.

Spring rutting season isn’t that far off and there is no reason to expect fewer deer across Greater Victoria – unless those recently sighted cougars do what people won’t.

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