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Sooke mayor seeks action on culling of deer

Nov 10 2011

The $255,000 being paid by the Capital Regional District for a report on deer management would be better spent figuring out how to cull the creatures bounding through much of the region, Sooke Mayor Janet Evans said Wednesday.

"I don't support a study. I support finding out how to cull them properly," said Evans, who is not seeking re-election to municipal council in the Nov. 19 poll.

Despite concerns about the practicality of the report and comments that it was simply postponing the inevitable, the CRD board voted in favour of the study. It is to be completed in three months, a request made by Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton.

"Just because the province is handing it off to us does not mean we have to have a bureaucratic response," Causton said. "We need to move to action on this, following a plan. That plan can be done quickly."

CRD staff said the study provides more than just a deer census; it will outline how the public can be engaged and educated on the deer problem and options.

"We want to ensure the public fully understands what we're trying to accomplish and that there's buy-in for that difficult implementation down the road," said Rob Lapham, general manager of CRD planning and protective services. That is code for a cull, the method that biologists say is the only effective way to deal with the surge of deer, many of which are sick and infested with ticks.

Victoria councillor Lynn Hunter said she was disturbed that the CRD was spending such an amount on a report.

"It's a way of delaying making a hard decision that may be unpopular in some parts of our community," Hunter said. "Most of us are standing for re-election and being the murderer of Bambi is not necessarily something that is going to be popular as an election platform. ... I'm in favour of a move to action."

Saanich councillor Judy Brownoff said the community is very divided. "Some say save Bambi, others say just whack him," she said.

Fallow deer on Sidney Island are culled twice a year by First Nations members. As well, a strata council on the island has approved a deer cull.

A local cull would likely be carried out similarly to that in Cranbrook, where deer are caught in netted-cage traps and killed with a bolt gun, similar to the system of killing cows in slaughterhouses.


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