The exchanges between council and staff during the Monday Jan 25th, Oak Bay council meeting surrounding what to do with the deer in the municipality were divided, communicated confusion at end goals, and disinterest with wading into another un-researched project to kill more deer residents.
Prior to conversation on the topic of allocation of $30,000 in funds towards “deer management” in the region, two speakers called out the Oak Bay council on their decision to host a “cull” last year which killed 11 deer and divided the community. Speakers for the deer were Kelly Carson, president of the B.C. Deer Protection Society and DeerSafe Victoria, as well as Jordan Reichert of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada.
Chief Administrative Officer, Ms. Konning, was questioned by staff on several fronts. When asked how many deer fatalities there were in 2015, her response was 30. When questioned further to indicate whether the deaths were related to car collisions or were due to natural causes, she replied “I believe they were due to vehicle altercations.” However, Councillor Zhelka pushed Konning to provide proof of this response regarding the causes of death, Konning admitted there was no tracking system in place for collecting these records and presenting them in an organized manner. This, despite a tracking system being recognized as an essential part of the learning process from Oak Bay’s pilot project last year to improve an understanding of the “deer problem.”
Councillor Kirby also questioned the logic behind the municipality wading into a project that previously divided the community at a great cost with little results, and taking on what she see’s as the provinces business. She expressed great concern that if council continue to work on this issue, the province will back off and leave it up to Oak Bay to clean up their mess.
Councillor Zhelka also suggested we should be counting complaints, as right now council is not aware if there are less complaints than before the cull. He also stated that from his count, there have been 19 people asking for no cull and 3 asking for a cull who have spoken in front of council. He expressed this as all he can go on in terms of understanding the public’s perspective on deer management. Furthermore, he advocated that the council should be taking advantage of government grants to consider immunocontraceptive and support the work of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.
Councilor Murdoch requested the results for the CRD deer count. He expressed on several occasions that Oak Bay needed to manage the deer including the possibility of another “cull.” At one point he expressed that council had all the permits and all the boxes checked and that they are ready for this to happen again; although, he did not believe there will be an answer in this fiscal year.
Another strong voice against a cull was Councillor Ney, who recognized that the evidence she has seen indicates culls may not be effective. Furthermore, it would be more effective to invest in educating the public, so they are not so fearful of the deer. She felt that culls are too divisive for the community and supported the UWSS and immunocontraceptive options.
Questions were asked of staff regarding alternative methods , regarding research, costs and availability. However, Chief Administrative Officer Konning expressed that staff are too overwhelmed to consider this task and that the task is unclear.
“What is the baseline of finding this information? What is the objective?”
Council did not have an answer and voted to talk about a deer management strategy in the future Meeting of the Whole.
Victoria Animal News