Unless the deer go away, Oak Bay politicians are going to be asked about them.
“The real question is, are the deer there in the first place?” Andrew Weaver wondered when prompted about the issue during a year-end interview with the Oak Bay News. “We have to start going back to the loss of their natural habitat. Perhaps we should be looking at wildlife management on a broader scale, because we haven’t always had deer in our towns.”
Weaver praises the municipality’s plan to attempt a contraception regiment. Even though it wont get rid of the deer, the hope is it will level out the current population in Oak Bay.
“If you go and cull in Oak Bay, you’re actually going to create a worse problem than you had going in. If you’re going to do something region-wide, that’s one thing,” Weaver said. “If you’re just going to cull deer in Oak Bay, what’s going to happen is those deer in Victoria-Queenswood are going to say ‘it’s crowded here, lets go on into Oak Bay,’ and you actually get a bigger problem emerge than you had.”
He also did work to help secure funding for the sterilization program, and that although it’s just in beta, he’s confident it will work better than a cull.
“You wont have new baby deer, you’ll just have aging, in place, older deer. And that will stabilize the population, and not have the young ones that typically get hit by cars coming in.”
Nobody knows exactly how many deer reside in Oak Bay. The hope is through the contraception program a clearer population picture will emerge. However, some numbers are available — like the amount of deer carcasses left behind.
When Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch was campaigning in the fall, he provided the number found by public works. The amount of carcasses rose from eight to 2010, to 48 in 2017. For the last three years there have been more than 40 carcasses picked up annually.
Besides the threat to cars, residents have had scary encounters with deer over the past year.
Just one month ago, police reported a call involving children being chased by deer — but Weaver said deer still aren’t the scariest animals for children to bump into in Oak Bay.
“Let’s start dealing with some dogs first,” Weaver said. “This idea that somehow deer are a problem for scaring kids — I’m not even willing to entertain that in light of the fact you just have to go and walk aground any public park and look at how many scary dogs are off leash — running and bounding up thinking they’re just joyous to the child, and jumping on the little child. That is scary.”