Response to “Overpopulation of deer” letter in Aug. 1 Sounder

Tuesday, August 8 2017

I would like to give some reasons why a cull, which is a slaughter, should not happen here on Gabriola.

The method used in a cull is called a “clover trap/bolt gun kill.” 

It entails hired contractors trapping deer at night, who, once caught, spend hours in panic, thrashing about. Then, just before dawn, coming back to the traps, these contractors collapse the netting and the entire cage on top of the deer and actually throw themselves right on top of the animal in order to get close enough to blast them with a close range shot. There is a video online which illustrates this barbaric method.

This program would be something individual landowners could apply for in order to have the killing done on their property. In one community, the BC Liberals initially provided $15,000 for ten traps and two bolt guns. Other communities such as Invermere and Cranbrook built their own lethal traps. 

The clover trap/bolt gun kill has been tried in several BC districts and municipalities, but has had very limited success, much opposition, and the authorities subsequently trying to find more humane methods. Indeed, it is mostly because of the huge controversies and community anger about the kills that government officials have abandoned the trap method. 

An illustration of how divisive a deer cull can be happened in the district of Elkford, BC, where the killing was carried out in broad daylight, traumatizing many citizens, including children. The permit to continue the killing was suspended due to public outrage . 

There was a lawsuit instigated by the cull in Invermere. 

The Capital Regional District (which includes Oak Bay, Central Saanich, Victoria) is now thinking that there is another, non -lethal way and this is ear tagging, so as to count deer scientifically and sterilize a certain number of does with contraceptives.

How do we know that we have an overpopulation of deer on this island until there is a scientific study, conducted by professionals? And this would, it seems, involve ear tagging. It may appear we have more deer because more and more land is being enclosed with fencing and/or developed, thus forcing deer out of their usual deeper woodlands habitat and more into our view, such as roadsides.

On the other hand, with the droughts of the last few years and the severe winter we just experienced, I actually question whether we have more deer, we could have less, but are just seeing them more since their foraging ranges have changed due to development. 

It would appear to me that instead of a “cull/slaughter” (let’s not use the euphemism, and let’s call it what it is), we need more public awareness, fencing, speed limits or at least some driver caution at all times, especially in the twilight hours when the deer are most often near roads or crossing them. 

This deer “cull” has caused much grief and rancour in communities where it has happened. If you were a person who did not support an authorized contracted out kill, how would you feel if your neighbours felt differently, and had a clover trap installed next to your property? You might hear the cries and the thrashing all night, so might your children. Then would you feel the same way about your neighbour as you once did? This could divide this community much more deeply and bitterly then past controversies. 

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Haniszewska