After briefly floating the idea of a sub-regional deer management service, the Capital Regional District’s planning and protective services committee voted Wednesday to maintain the status quo.
The potential cost of adding to the CRD’s current public education and municipal support role, and the uncertainty of encroaching onto provincial wildlife responsibilities led committee members to maintain existing service levels.
CRD staff were asked last fall to look into ways the CRD could help avoid duplication of efforts and cost for municipalities with deer overpopulation issues – primarily Oak Bay, Esquimalt and Central Saanich. Taking a direct role on population reduction would require a new service mandate and would need CRD board approval.
Director Rebecca Mersereau asked whether taking a greater role in deer management activities would include doing a regional population count to get baseline numbers. Kevin Lorette, general manager of planning and protective services said it would.
With the only cost estimate in the report calling for spending between $35,000 and $60,000, Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch jumped into the discussion.
“Our experience in Oak Bay, with even doing a small count, was in the neighbourhood of several tens of thousands of dollars to service the province’s requirements,” he said.
Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks’ comments illustrated the urban-rural divide that often overshadow regional discussions.
“We are the largest land mass in the CRD by far, and we do not have a problem with deer, we hunt them, we shoot them,” he said. “As far as counting deer in the Juan de Fuca, that’s just absurd, it would be impossible.”
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said while deer management was an issue in his 2014 election campaign, he doesn’t see a full regional approach as a good use of resources. He and Mersereau said municipalities can be more proactive in encouraging residents to better manage food source control, much in the way garbage and rotting produce are stored to avoid drawing rodents.
Rather than choosing the option of having staff canvas municipalities on what type of population reduction methods their communities support, and gauge interest in the CRD initiating a new deer management service, the committee chose to maintain the current level of support.