The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants municipalities to look at other options rather than culls to solve wildlife problems.
B.C. SPCA chief scientific officer Sara Dubois told Sooke District council last week that deer culls are often “misguided” and a “knee-jerk reaction” to a problem that can often be solved by non-lethal means.
Sooke has no plans to conduct a deer cull.
The B.C. SPCA is opposed to the culling of urban deer when there is a lack of credible scientific evidence to support it, or it cannot be achieved humanly.
“We’re not opposed to killing an individual wild animal that poses a direct threat to public safety, but we’re opposed to indiscriminate culling of deer,” Dubois said.
Coun. Kevin Pearson pointed out that anecdotally there appears to be more deer in Sooke’s urban core, yet the area is surrounded by hundred of hectares of uninhabited land.
“Is there more deer still in the wild as opposed to here? Are they migrating here?” asked Pearson.
Recent development in Sooke could be a cause of more deer in the urban area, but unless a proper study is completed there is no way of knowing if the population has increased.
Many communities have different tolerance levels when it comes to deer, and even though the population might not be high, the community’s patience has run out, Dubois said.
“Animal over-population needs to be addressed community by community – scientifically,” she said, adding that means proper deer counts, community input and possibly changes to bylaws.
“Culling is a short-term and unsustainable solution. In particular, indiscriminate culls conducted in B.C. communities may not target the right deer species, gender or age class, or individuals that are of most concern to residents, costing taxpayers hundreds, even thousands, of dollars per deer killed,” Dubois said.
The B.C. SPCA offers these actions for managing urban deer:
Don’t feed the deer. It encourages them to remain in the area and creates dependency.
Fencing. Deer are not likely to jump a fence that they cannot see through.
Deterrents. Motion-activated lights, sprinkler systems, and banging pots and pans will deter deer.
Landscaping. Deer like certain plants, such as narrow leaf evergreens, daylilies and tulips, so these should be avoided. Deer will stay away from poisonous, fragrant and prickly plants like daffodils, lavender and rhododendrons. Using these plants will keep deer uninterested in your yard.
Follow the speed limit. Respecting traffic laws will result in less deer-related accidents.