Urban areas provide refuge for the deer

Re: "Let hunters kill more deer: report," Sept. 1.

Deer populations are not at high levels on Vancouver Island. They dropped considerably during the 1990s and have shown only modest recovery. This was primarily due to predation by wolves, cougar and black bears as well as habitat loss caused by logging and human expansion.

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The only places that deer populations have substantially increased are a few urban areas (such as Greater Victoria) and east of the Island Highway. The only deer that have been able to prosper have been those near enough to people to avoid the predators. Huge areas around Victoria that once provided homes for deer have been eliminated. The forest south of Shawnigan Lake is gone, having been logged all the way to the power line just north of Goldstream Park.

Once urban populations became established, the availability of high quality food and hedges, parks and sheltered areas for cover have allowed them to thrive. Another important factor is the lack of free-ranging dogs. Two or three decades ago, the family dog was put out in the morning and it went where it pleased until supper time. This is no longer allowed and is likely a major factor in the success of urban deer.

Now people want deer culled from the city, saying they don't belong here. It is too bad that we didn't value wildlife enough to look out for it in the first place.

John Thornton


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