CRD, not municipalities, to devise next steps on deer

Regional district should provide leadership on issue, chairman says

The buck bounced back to the Capital Regional District board Wednesday in the ongoing debate over deer problems.

Instead of giving municipalities the next shot at deer-deterrent bylaws - which must be in place before the province will consider a trap-and-kill program or any changes to hunting regulations - the CRD board will first take a crack at coming up with some regional solutions.

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"I don't think it's appropriate to send the report directly from this committee to municipal councils," said CRD board chairman Geoff Young, after 16 presentations from members of the public were made to the planning, transportation and protective services committee.

"It should be something the CRD board is prepared to stand behind."

The report distills recommendations from the citizens advisory committee, which looked at possible solutions to deer in urban and rural areas. Some measures could be taken by municipalities, while others would need provincial approval.

Young said the regional district should provide leadership by coming up with information on deer-resistant plantings or a model bylaw prohibiting feeding deer.

The CRD could also lead discussions with the Transportation Ministry about speed limits in areas where there are deer collisions and ask the federal government about approval for immuno-sterilization drugs, suggested Young.

"Managing wildlife and invasive species is something we are going to have to do as a developed area," Young said. "This board should provide some leadership because it clearly crosses municipal boundaries."

Directors should look at what has worked in other urban centres and what measures are already in place in Greater Victoria municipalities, said Saanich Coun. Vic Derman.

View Royal Mayor Graham Hill agreed that the report should be clarified and sent to the board.

"I see this as a work in progress," he said. "There's not going to be a silver shotgun shell."

About 50 people were at the meeting. The majority of speakers wanted deterrents.

Several said Victorians are becoming increasingly intolerant of wildlife and unwilling to make concessions such as planning for wildlife corridors.

"Once all the green space and wildlife is gone, it will be too late," Val Boswell said.

Development is a major problem, said Dale Lovell. "Deer have a place here. They were here before us."

The deer population on Vancouver Island is about one-quarter of what it was in 1980, said Tony Rose, who scoffed at reports that deer are dangerous. "Like any wild animal, you have to treat deer with caution, but they are not dangerous," he said. "Guns are dangerous."

But Dawn Sutherland, who was representing the Victoria Master Gardeners Association, said complaints from members are soaring.

"We have found there are no deer-proof or reliably deer-resistant plants. Every year, damage is reported on plants thought to be immune," she said. "A regional deer management plan can only be effective if it includes a significant deer population reduction."

Some called for total extermination.

"By definition, wild deer encroaching into civilized areas and farmland are vermin," said landscape designer Lynn Morton. "Get rid of them - all of them - the sooner the better."

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