I have watched the commentary back and forth in the letters section of your newspaper regarding the urban deer population and find that most of the opinions published are on either one end of the spectrum or the other. I believe my opinion lands closer to the middle.
I live in Gordon Head and I love having the deer around, but I understand that without natural predators their population can get out of hand.
My proposal is this:
• There should be a study available indicating how large of a range is required by deer, or what the ideal sustainable population would be if it were a natural ecosystem.
• There should be a tangible study, not just some deer hater’s or deer lover’s estimation, indicating the current population living in certain areas of the CRD.
• In urban areas that are too far removed from natural predators, the only option seems to be a cull of some kind.
This is the part that I find difficult, as I do not like that a cull is seemingly necessary. The fact that humans can bungle up an ecosystem to the point where animals must pay the ultimate price is infuriating, but unfortunately, that is a problem that will not be solved in the near future. Unless you are a strict vegetarian, I don’t think you can argue against humanely killing the deer and using them for food, since most of the meat that ends up on our plates has a much worse life and death.
I envision a cull that is run in accordance with the hunting standards set in our province, as far as timing (September to late November), to minimize impact on young deer or pregnant does.
Obviously there is a cost associated with running a deer management program, but perhaps some of this cost could be recouped by selling tags to people who are interested in stocking their freezers with deer meat. A percentage of the cull could also be allocated to various homeless shelters in the CRD.
But I am not in favour of a kill that results in the carcass being unfit for human consumption and subsequently cremated and wasted.
I am not up on the current methods of humane killing in the absence of a rifle, but I have heard that trapping and then killing with a bolt gun is one option. This, of course, should be done by a person who is trusted to handle the situation with the proper amount of sensitivity to the animal. I’m not sure where you would place these traps, because I know I would feel compelled to let out any deer that I saw cooped up in one.
I hope that if we begin a management program that attempts to hit the middle ground then we can still enjoy the deer in our neighbourhoods, as they are one of the reasons I enjoy living here.
I find the attempts to paint them as property destroyers, or dangerous, or Lyme disease carriers, generalities that are uncalled for. I am more than willing to sacrifice my front yard flower bed and teach my kids about safe behaviour around deer so that we can enjoy their presence for years to come.