The Capital Regional District will need buy-in from provincial and municipal governments if there is to be any hope of dealing with problem deer, says Metchosin Mayor John Ranns, chairman of the CRD committee looking at the issue.
"A lot of this is dependent on the province changing some of its regulations [and] providing support in certain areas," Ranns said Wednesday after his committee received a citizen advisory group's deer-management recommendations. For example, he cited lengthening the deer hunting season or allowing for the sale of game - both areas of provincial jurisdiction.
"We also have to know, from the municipalities, are they prepared to look at some of these recommendations and change their bylaws? Is Victoria prepared to change their fencing bylaw? Is Central Saanich prepared to change their shooting bylaws? Things like that."
Tabling an exhaustive 168-page report, the citizen advisory group made a number of recommendations ranging from allowing hunters to kill more deer to easing rules on fence heights.
After considerable discussion, the CRD committee referred the advisory committee's report to staff, who are to bring together provincial, municipal, First Nations and possibly federal representatives to try to determine which of the recommendations are practical and supportable.
Implementing many of the recommendations will require cooperation from several governments, Ranns said.
"I want to make sure that before the [CRD] board gets these things that we know that the province will back it up. If they're not going to back it up, I'm going to wipe my hands of it," Ranns said.
Any move toward a deer cull would be made against a politically charged backdrop. This week, Ranns received a petition with more than 1,000 names against any cull.
"It's a primarily urban-based petition," Ranns said "I think the petition is valid in that it's saying to the City of Victoria or Oak Bay or places like that, 'Look, we recognize there are certain measures that have to be taken, but don't go out and shoot the deer in our backyards.' "
Ranns hopes some changes can be made before next spring.
"My objective as chair is to see some relief for the farmers by the start of the growing season. Now that is dependent entirely on agencies that are outside of our control," Ranns said.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM DEER ADVISORY GROUP
The citizens advisory group tailored options for deer management in three areas - agricultural, rural and urban - with many recommendations overlapping.
Recommendations for both rural and agricultural areas include:
? allowing hunters to shoot more deer
? extending the public hunting season
? expanding the First Nations harvest
For urban areas, the group suggested:
? landscaping alternatives
? public education on deer-resistant
plants and repellents
? delegated authority from provincial to
local government to deal with aggressive deer
? bylaws prohibiting deer feeding
? incentives for fencing
? changing regulatory barriers to effective fencing such as restrictions on height and placement
The report suggests 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.
Other suggestions include:
? improving road signs to reduce the number of deer and vehicle collisions
? increasing driver education about deer
? changing regulations to allow meat to be used after deer are killed
? establishing a region-wide public education program to better inform the public about deer behaviour.
The report said public education is also needed to increase awareness of health concerns such as Lyme disease.
- Bill Cleverley