It’s 11pm and after a long night at work, my night is only beginning.
With the Oak Bay deer cull purportedly in full swing, the traps are in and the contractors ready to kill, the nights are too quiet to get any sleep. There are rumblings of all the details, of where the traps may be placed and how they will be disguised in transit. As I set out for the evening I really don’t know what I am looking for or where I’m going to find it; yet, I know it is out there in the darkness and my eyes are peeled for even a hint of anything unusual.
As I drive through the roads of Oak Bay one thing becomes clear very quickly, this is a densely wooded urban landscape with ample hiding spots for both deer and traps. Light pierces through the black mosaic that surrounds the main roads, but little can be seen from the street. A family of deer crosses in front of me on Hampshire and McNeil, just five minutes into the evening’s rounds. They seem indifferent of my presence, and while I watch them slowly saunter across the street, I am both taken back by their presence and just as indifferent. These are not the deer I’m looking for. There is no trap here out in the open, I have to move on.
Vigilance in watching both the road and scanning yards and streets brings excitement and apprehension. There is barely a body about in Oak Bay as midnight approaches. At least, if you are counting the human ones you usually find wandering about the streets. Indeed, there are many shadowy figures walking in the night, living in the relative and temporary reprieve from human activity the darkness brings. Shots from the car are all I have time to take or want to. It is not my place to bother them anymore than they are bothered by our presence during the perpetual daylight hours. One has to wonder how long ago we would have been culled if they had the arrogance of our power and politics.
I have a list of addresses in my phone, places of interest and of concern. Perhaps those who have complained in the past about deer, some likely those who have openly expressed an interest in seeing them killed. Regardless, this night is not just about driving. Traps will be settled into well covered areas, especially if they are in private yards. Reports say that the traps will have heat sensors on them that will let the contractors know by phone when a deer has been caught. This will also likely tell them if an activist is tampering with one of the units. Either way, the darkness gives nothing away.
Driving past the Victoria Golf Club I see a food delivery truck with its loading dock down parked at the far end of their parking lot by the club house. At first I drive by, but then can’t shake that it feels off. I drive into the parking lot and check out the container. There is nothing to really be seen, yet I want to trust my gut on every inclination. Certainly, a golf course would be a likely target for the contractors, but at the same time I have to question if they would go to the trouble of disguising their “cull mobile” as a food delivery truck. It is easy to over think everything, but that is what the lack of transparency on this issue in Oak Bay has done.
It’s 01:00 in the morning now. Yards and streets in the south end of Oak Bay have been searched and it is time to move up. It is hard to leave even though I feel like I have searched diligently, there is just too much to see it all and I can’t help thinking I have left too many stones left unturned.
Driving through the uplands I see someone walking with a flashlight around a large bushy area.
The rest of the night is uneventful, save for the many critters that I happen upon up and down the quiet cul de sacs that look accommodating to the contractors and Oak Bay’s desire for privacy. That is exactly the opposite of my intent though. This type of publicly funded murder in tight knit communities that have had a rift driven between them on the issue of the cull must be brought into the public light. To imagine that Oak Bay would keep this from its own residents, the BCSPCA, and organizations such as DeerSafe Victoria who have lobbied diligently against this inhumane, unscientific, and unnecessary cull to protect themselves from the criticism they deserve for the blood that will be on their hands if footage gets out is villainous. We are here to observe and document this violence, if we can find it. I know I’m not the only one out here on these streets at night, eyes are open everywhere and they are scanning the darkness for the same traps that I am.
It is just a matter of time before we find what we are looking for and for what Oak Bay is trying desperately to hide. Sadly, I fear that when we do find it, we will wish we never had.
This will be an ongoing series of posts on the nights searching for the Oak Bay deer cull.
The Critical Cat