Allow hunters to kill more deer, deploy sharpshooters on large urban properties and ease fencing regulations.
Those steps are among the suggestions, released Friday, from an advisory committee tasked with finding solutions to the capital region's deer problems.
The Citizens Advisory Group was appointed to explore the issue amid complaints that the number of deer has increased in recent years, resulting in substantial damage to urban gardens and agricultural crops.
In its 168-page report, the committee tailors options in three areas: agricultural, rural and urban, with many recommendations overlapping.
Urban recommendations include landscaping alternatives, public education on deer-resistant planting and repellents, delegating provincial authority to local government to deal with aggressive deer, bylaws prohibiting deer feeding, local government incentives for fencing, and removing regulatory barriers to effective fencing such as restrictions on height and placement.
The report calls for possible use of sharpshooters on large properties including parks, post-secondary institutions, golf courses and government-held properties such as Government House. It also suggests deer could be captured and euthanized.
"All options, including population-control measures, should be carried out in the most humane manner possible, and in particular, should avoid inflicting suffering on deer through actions that expose deer to an undue risk of starvation or injury," the report says.
Recommendations for both rural and agricultural areas include allowing hunters to shoot more deer, extending the public hunting season and expanding the First Nations harvest.
Among the other suggestions:
- Improve road signs to reduce the number of deer and vehicle collisions.
- Increase driver education about deer.
- Change regulations to allow meat to be used after deer are killed.
- Establish a region-wide public education program to better inform the public of deer behaviour and control options. Public education is needed to increase awareness of health concerns such as Lyme disease.
Capital Regional District directors will discuss the report next week.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, who heads the committee reviewing the report, said it will be up to directors to distill options and come up with something that works. "What I anticipate happening is we will review the options and probably send a number of them back to staff to see how feasible they are," Ranns said. "Then we're going to bring it back to another committee where the public will have lots of opportunity to speak on what we've come up with."
The report is already drawing the ire of those who oppose killing deer. Susan Vickery of the Earthanimal Humane Education and Rescue Society said the committee has given in to farmers who want more freedom to kill deer. "My immediate focus went to 'reducing the population to natural levels.' It appears over and over again through the report," she said.
"We should step back. No knee-jerk, trigger-happy, immediate gratification," she said.
A lack of numbers in the report is a concern, Vickery said. The committee said information wasn't available on deer population and income losses suffered by farmers.
The report will be discussed Wednesday at a special meeting of the CRD's planning, transportation and protective services committee. While the public is welcome to attend, no delegations will be heard at the meeting.
To read the committee's recommendations, click here.
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