LETTER: Deer native to Vancouver Island for thousands of years

Re: Deer not native to Gordon Head, letter in the Aug. 16 Saanich News. The letter writer incorrectly states that there were “no deer in the Gordon Head district between the years 1942 and 1969” and that deer are “now an invasive species.”

In fact, black tailed deer are indigenous to our area and have been around for literally thousands of years.

This is borne out by First Nations traditions, along with documents, photographs, letters and maps that can be accessed through the local library or municipal archives, which show an abundance of wildlife, including indigenous deer.

I too grew up in Gordon Head and also rarely saw deer in the 1960s and 1970s. However, they were there and in surrounding areas, and it was a special experience when I did. I well remember seeing deer in a field off of McKenzie Avenue (then known as Ruby Road) and being thrilled.

Loss of habitat is a major factor in why we see deer more often now. In the 1960s and 1970s, much of Gordon Head was rural or wooded and provided excellent natural habitat for deer and other wildlife. Those areas have largely been developed since then and deer are more visible with fewer natural spaces to call their own. Loss of habitat has also been a significant factor in the decline of red squirrels.

Efforts to learn how to co-exist with wildlife are ongoing throughout our region, which is noted for its natural beauty, including its visible wildlife species both on land and in the ocean. In those efforts, it’s important that we understand that deer are indigenous to Vancouver Island.

Kristy Kilpatrick, president

Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society

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