The proposed eradication of Fallow Deer on Sidney Island has renewed questions about the ethics of deer culls. (Parks Canada/Submitted)

The proposed eradication of Fallow Deer on Sidney Island has renewed questions about the ethics of deer culls. (Parks Canada/Submitted)

Proposed deer eradication on Sidney renews ethical questions

Questions include the larger moral status of animals

The proposed eradication of an unknown number of fallow deer on Sidney Island to help restore its ecology has renewed attention on the ethics of deer culling.

The case for the proposed eradication appears strong: the animals were not part of the island’s historic ecology; their presence has crowded out the black tail deer, which have historically lived on the island; and they have done considerable damage to the vegetation, hurting the ability of local First Nations to use that vegetation for traditional purposes. Officials with Parks Canada have looked into other ways of eradicating the animals from the island, such as sterilisation and removal, but have ruled them out.

Moving the invasive animals to another location would merely shift the problem and sterilisation requires the capture of the animals, in some cases, multiple times, an unrealistic and inhumane prospect, as one Parks Canada official put it.

RELATED: Parks Canada wants to eradicate invasive deer on Sidney Island

So eradication appears to offer many advantages, including the possibility that the meat from the animals could end up in local freezers, including those of local First Nations (they already hunt fallow deer during certain months in the northern part of the island in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve).

On the other hand, it is easy to see how the prospect of killing and processing an unknown number of animals could give the public pause, if not trigger outright opposition.

No one has made any decisions yet as Parks Canada continues to invite public feedback on the eradication, itself just one part of a larger proposal. Private property owners must also still consider said proposal and the BC SPCA has yet to see the final eradication plan.

RELATED: Islands Trust Conservancy gets funds to fend off bullfrogs on Sidney Island

Sara Dubois, director of science and policy division and chief scientific officer for the BC SPCA, said the question of why anyone should care for these animals can be answered in two ways.

“First, it’s not their fault,” she said. “Those particular animals didn’t ask to be placed there,” said Dubois, pointing to the events that led to the introduction of the deer to the island at the hands of European settlers who wanted to hunt them for sport.

The second centres on the larger question of whether animals deserve moral status, and if so, to what extent.

RELATED: Campground near Sidney renamed to recognize First Nations

“If you care about the livelihood of animals and (you want) to ensure that we don’t cause more pain and suffering, we have to take them into moral consideration,” she said. “So that is why it doesn’t matter what their status is. They are here and we have to solve this problem as ethically as possible.”

The process so far suggests it has been, as Parks Canada has been consulting with BC SPCA as well as international guidelines, in addition to its own experts, promising the safest and most humane approach.

BC SPCA does not support any eradication, unless the animals themselves were suffering from disease or injury or starving on the island among other circumstances, said Dubois. “(But) we might not oppose a project that met all of of the ethical wildlife control principles and has benefits to other animals,” she said, pointing to seven guidelines for ethical wildlife controls.

They read as follows: begin by modifying human practices; justify with evidence; ensure objectives are clear and achievable; prioritize animal welfare; maintain social acceptability; conduct systematic planning; and make decisions based on specifics not labels.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Saanich Peninsula

Just Posted

Colin Davidson won $100K on a Set for Life scratch ticket in Sooke. (BCLC photo)
Sooke man does ‘happy dance’ after scratching a $100,000 Set for Life win

Colin Davidson plans to renovate his home and invest in his daughter’s education

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

West Shore RCMP K9 Halla. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sound of RCMP dog enough to stop suspects in Oak Bay

West Shore RCMP K9 unit called in, didn’t get to chase

Improving safety at Keating Cross Road and the Pat Bay Highway is the goal of the flyover project currently in the works. The province aims to reveal the final cost and design this fall. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Final budget, design of Keating flyover in Central Saanich still in the works

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says information coming by this fall

UVic Department of Anthropology chair and professor, April Nowell, at home with a copy of her new book, Growing Up In the Ice Age. (Courtesy of April Nowell)
New book by University of Victoria professor explores lives of Ice Age children

April Nowell spent two decades researching archaeological evidence of children, teens

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus students Ethan Reid, from left, Brenden Higgins, Ty Oviatt, Kaleb Alphonse, Nathan Kendrick and Landon Brink with RCMP officers Const. Nicoll and Const. Stancec. (Photo submitted)
RCMP thank 6 teens for helping prevent forest fire in Williams Lake

The students came across fire in a wooded area and used the water they had to try and extinguish the flames

Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre has embarked on a fundraising campaign, seeking to raise $1 million for establishment of an independent urban Indigenous school. Pictured here, Tsawalk Learning Centre students at an Orange Shirt Day event in September. (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre looks to raise $1 million for urban Indigenous school

Centre says independent school would be first of its kind in B.C.

There is an emergency shelter near the Golden Ears peaks. (Facebook/Special to The News)
Hiker fogged in on Golden Ears, spends 2 nights

Talon Helicopters, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue bring him home Monday

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Most Read