Deer, deer and more deer  


Dear Friends,

One issue that affects both farmers and non-farmers in the Capital Regional District is the rapidly growing population of Black Tail deer.

As the MLA for Saanich South, I hear from people with very different perspectives on this issue: from residents who enjoy daily encounters with wildlife, to seniors who are afraid to drive at night because of fear they will collide with a deer on the road; from those who believe it is morally wrong to kill animals and argue we should co-exist; to those who see deer as venison and a potential boon to local food security.

And of course this is of very significant concern to many farmers. A few deer can kill crops worth thousands of dollars in a few hours. Several farmers in Saanich have told me in no uncertain terms that damage done by deer may put them out of business.

The problem is not that there are deer on the peninsula, this their home too - and we are fortunate to live in a place that can still support wildlife. The concern is the growing population on the peninsula and the increasing deer/human interactions. In the wild deer populations are kept in check by predators and limits in forage. But in our community, neither of these factors exist. In populated areas, there are numerous restrictions on what farmers can to deter deer and deer-fencing is often completely cost prohibitive.

What should be done?

In November 2011, the Capital Regional District directed its staff to develop terms of reference for a Deer Management Strategy. At that time, I wrote to the CRD and offered to help them reach out to the community.

The CRD has now completed this work. (You can see that document here.) A Citizen’s Advisory Group is being created and it will develop the strategy with the assistance of a group of experts.

It’s my understanding that the terms of reference have been adopted, “with provisions that at least three members of the citizen’s advisory group be commercial farmers and that agricultural issues be addressed as a first priority”.

I support this approach and I note that the CRD expects the work of the Group to be done by
July 2012.

I look forward to a debate that is informed and sensitive to the range of perspectives on this
issue. There are no quick solutions… but we do need to decide on a strategy and move forward.


PS.If you are interested in being on this Citizen’s Advisory Group you can apply here. The deadline is March 30th.