Letters Nov. 7: Trouble with deer, aptitude testing a bad idea

Deer don’t belong in the city

We are constantly told how important bees are, but deer eat flowers and without flowers, there are no bees or lovely butterflies.

Deer eat the berries that grow on shrubs that birds rely on — so the deer are detrimental to birds, as well.

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Deer cause car crashes that increase insurance costs and potentially injure people.

Dogs and people are attacked and threatened by deer. It’s just a matter of time before a child playing in a backyard or city park experiences an attack. Will the parents sue the city because they didn’t get rid of the deer population?

Deer are carriers of ticks, which are detrimental to the health of humans and pets.

According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, reducing deer density to 5.1 deer per square kilometer resulted in a 76 per cent reduction in tick abundance and an 80 per cent reduction in resident-reported cases of Lyme disease in the community.

Deer entice cougars into neighbourhoods.

Why are conservation officers allowed to shoot cougars but not deer?

Have you ever wondered how fast deer can populate an area? A deer herd that has plenty to eat and is not hunted by humans or other predators will double in size every three years.

So if you start with 10 deer, you will have 320 in 15 years and 2,560 in 24 years.

At some point, deer form herds. Does Victoria want deer herds roaming around its neighbourhoods?

We have to get past the “Bambi” image and realize that deer do not contribute positively to our community.

J. C. Siemens

Victoria

Many urban deer clearly starving

Re: “Modern deer hunters aim for birth control,” Nov. 3.

I’m surprised that the wildlife veterinarian is surprised at the poor condition of the deer in Oak Bay. It’s been clear to me for a while that many are starving. They often are very skinny, with terrible coats.

“There’s tons of forage around,” says the vet. Well, not exactly. There’s not much that’s good for deer to eat, obviously.

They are so hungry, they repeatedly browsed by my potatoes this summer, and they reduced my rhubarb plant to little nubs trying desperately to grow some new leaves.

Potatoes and rhubarb leaves are very toxic. A starvation diet including toxic plants may explain animals having full guts but nonetheless being in very poor condition.

Similarly, that diet may better explain observed diarrhea than unusual “richness” of their diets.

Having spent 20 years producing beef and lamb, when I look at our skinny deer, I get an urge to put out alfalfa pellets for them.

I often wish we could both implement birth control and offer supplemental feed, to humanely aid the deer that are here while also letting them slowly disappear.

They are dangerous to people and this clearly is a terrible habitat for them.

Ann Tiplady

Victoria

Why would firefighters host bonfire, fireworks?

Re: “Air-quality advisory issued for Vancouver area on weekend,” Nov. 2.

I find it rather ironic that this article appeared the same day our local fire department in East Wellington, Nanaimo, was encouraging people to attend a fireworks display and bonfire.

The three contributing factors to Vancouver’s poor air quality — vehicle emissions, fireworks and outdoor burning — are all in abundance at such events, as most people drive to get there.

And then there’s the noise from the fireworks disturbing the peace and upsetting countless people and animals.

It’s beyond me why any fire department would host either a bonfire or fireworks display — seems to me they should be doing their best to discourage them.

Dave Kirk

Nanaimo

Aptitude testing a relic of bad old days

Re: “Even geniuses need exceptional teachers,” opinion, Nov. 3.

There is much research evidence to support the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth’s finding that even extremely intelligent kids “need teachers to help them reach their full potential.” No controversy there.

But the implication that the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) should be administered to children “at an earlier age” flies in the face of decades of research warning against such a practice.

The SAT is widely used in the U.S. to determine high school students’ “potential” to succeed in post-secondary education. It is one of the few tests to remain from a wide-ranging battery of exams that were once broadly administered throughout elementary and secondary schools in North America in order to stream children into programs that were allegedly suited to their abilities.

In B.C., aptitude testing began in 1924 and ended in 1973, after decades of research indicated that such tests were heavily biased against children based on race, culture, language, gender and socio-economic status.

Suggesting that the SAT be used to “figure out what kids are good at so that teachers can focus their attention on different areas” implies a return to the bad old days of streaming children into programs based on biased testing.

We’ve come a long way since those bad old days. I shudder to think of the consequences of returning to them.

Helen Raptis

Associate professor, faculty of education

University of Victoria

Dark mornings mean more parents driving

Re: “Sunrise too late with daylight time,” letter, Nov. 2.

This letter said what a lot of us have been thinking. Daylight time just does not work in the winter, and you would think all these so-called smart politicians would think about that.

Sunrise not coming until the kids are all in school is not a very good idea. Really dark when the kids are walking to school is not a good thing.

We live in very close proximity to three schools, so there is lots of activity near school starting time, and when the schools are out. Many schools start at 8:45 a.m.

Right now, I would say that a third of the kids get driven to school and picked up after school. The traffic in the area is horrendous.

Just imagine how it will be when it’s dark, I mean really dark, when these kids are heading to school, and all of them are being driven there.

Lyall Eriksen

Colwood

Parksville-Qualicum has lost five doctors

In Parksville-Qualicum Beach, we have lost five doctors since the end of July, with no replacement. I’m not sure of the total number of patients now without doctors, but have heard it’s more than 6,000.

Some have been lucky enough to get doctors in Courtenay, but all of us now have to request our records from a company in Toronto at a cost of $80 plus tax.

Wayne Stewart

Parksville

Maybe ICBC ideas made sense at the time

Re: “ICBC officials pushed ‘goofy’ ideas for years: ex-minister, Nov. 2.

In referring to his need to quash goofy ideas from ICBC, Todd Stone, former B.C. Liberal minister responsible for ICBC, says: “That is why we have ministers responsible.”

With a Crown corporation such as ICBC, it might be that a few goofy ideas had to be shot down, but doesn’t the leaning of government have any role in what ideas a Crown corporation might come up with in the first place?

Weren’t the B.C. Liberals, with their extreme business-first ideology, taking billions out of ICBC to balance the books, to look good at election time? So why not sell the ICBC corporate headquarters for $10 million? They were on a roll selling public land assets. Why not sell the ICBC website to a Chinese state-owned bank?

Given the political context at the time, that just might have seemed to be good business.

Ron Kot

Victoria

Why no calls for other leaders to resign?

I find it mildly entertaining that some Liberals and many in the media are graciously suggesting that the Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer, resign, after his party’s election showing.

It is worth a reminder that the Conservatives received 6.2 million votes, 250,000 more than the Liberals and the most in the history of the party, including 2011, when they won a majority.

They also increased their number of seats by 22, from 99 to 121.

Under Justin Trudeau, the Liberals lost their majority-government status and surrendered 27 seats, including all in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I’m not sure Jagmeet Singh of the NDP has much to jump up and down about either, after his party’s seat total plummeted from 39 to 24.

Given the disastrous Liberal and NDP election showings, perhaps Trudeau and Singh should contemplate resigning instead. So odd how Scheer is the only one spoken about in that regard the media, though. Very odd indeed.

G.K. Schick

Victoria

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