Theft of traps thwarts Oak Bay deer cull plan

A theft of deer traps in Cranbrook this past winter has thrown a curve into Oak Bay’s plans for an urban deer cull.

“It appears that the province no longer has the ability to supply the traps that are required to conduct the cull program,” Mayor Nils Jensen said Monday.

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“The information we received from the province is that the traps that they had to lend out have either been destroyed or stolen,” Jensen said.

Jensen said there are also concerns the cost of the deer management strategy might be more than the anticipated $12,500.

Ten clover deer traps, available for loan to municipalities, were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook in February by someone who cut a chain-link fence to gain entry.

According to news reports, six of the 10 stolen traps were quickly found in bush near the compound, but they had been burned and were unusable. One trap was found intact. Three others were missing. RCMP estimated the total value of the traps at about $17,000.

Oak Bay has sent a letter to Steve Thomson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, asking that the province rebuild modified clover traps and make them available.

“The most recent information I have is we may have to manufacture the traps ourselves and that could be a costly business,” Jensen said.

Oak Bay’s deer management initiatives have been done in conjunction with a $150,000 Capital Regional District deer management pilot project which is now close to wrapping up.

CRD staff are recommending that pilot end in September.

Before Oak Bay could conduct a cull, it has to make application to the province for a permit. CRD staff say they will soon present a draft permit application for review by Oak Bay staff prior to submission to the province.

The provincial permit requirements include completion of a conflict reduction program, deer-vehicle collision mitigation, public education plans, and a deer count prior to any cull, all of which have been done.

Jensen said with the CRD pilot ending, Oak Bay will have to decide whether to proceed on its own or to appeal to the CRD to continue the pilot and provide funding.

“Funding is certainly a question mark that we’re still working on. Also the logistics, if we can call it that, is an issue that we are dealing with. How do we dispose of the meat? So we’re looking at partnerships there,” he said.

The earliest the municipality could have proceeded with a cull was this fall.

Oak Bay planned to have up to 25 deer trapped and killed.

The aim of the initiative is to reduce the number of deer killed by automobiles and to appease residents who have long complained about deer taking over backyards, destroying garden shrubs and flowers, and devouring homegrown vegetables.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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