Peter Hamilton: Stop killing deer for human mistakes in B.C.
A vocal pro-hunting minority turned a few isolated human and wildlife conflicts into mass hysteria for a B.C.-wide deer cull. The few attacking moms were simply defending their fawns from unleashed dog attacks. One of the most ludicrous reasons for a “cull” is that deer are “eating my flowers”.
In addition to annual government hunting licences, there are new government plans to kill “urban deer” attracted to irresponsible, illegal public feeding. Presently 325 more deer are targeted.
“Wildlife management” can create imbalances. Human overpopulation, urban sprawl, destruction of wildlife habitats, economies based on continued planet-busting human population growth, and other contributing factors to human-wildlife conflicts must all be taken into consideration when developing policies for human, animal, and environmental protection. The “urban” deer issues have been going on for over 10 years. Weren’t there immediate short-term goals while planning for the future?
Contrary to government claims, there are successful nonlethal solutions that include common sense and sterilization. The use of humane alternatives must not be determined by the price tag.
Lifeforce was a lone voice in the woods but now more campaigns are underway. Veterinarians, wildlife biologists, scientists, and other experts are opposed to the cruel trapping and captive bolt guns. Numerous domestic animals in slaughterhouses are not even instantly killed. Recently, a news report contained quotes from the mayor of Metchosin:
“As someone who has hunted, it’s not a pretty sight,” he said, musing about public reaction in downtown Victoria to a deer caught in a cage beating itself to a pulp trying to escape.
Then the deer is shot with a boltgun “and doing the funky chicken with blood coming out of its ears,” he said.
There is mounting worldwide condemnation of this cruelty. Concerned tourists want to visit the “Super, natural B.C.” with all its beautiful wildlife, not a B.C. with innocent deer being shamefully killed. To date, Cranbrook has killed 25 deer and Kimberly has killed 101 deer. One more than permitted.
Lifeforce has sent letters to Premier Christy Clark and the city councils outlining the reasons for a moratorium. Issues to date include the following.
1. Violation of permit conditions
The first trap set up in Kimberley did not have the approval of all neighbors as per the conditions of the permit.
2. Conflict of interest
Contractors, later hired to kill the deer, were allowed to chair the deer committees.
3. Uninspected “meat”
Current provincial regulations prevent members of the public from accessing the meat from culled deer. Only farmed deer are taken to federally inspected slaughter plants.
4. No B.C. government public comment period
There is an obligation to consult the public before issuing the permits.
5. The B.C. government claimed no tax money spent
However, the government purchased the 10 clover traps, bolt guns, and a sled for the cull. There were additional training costs too.
6. Lack of environmental assessments
B.C. and federal environmental assessments were not conducted.
7. Inhumane clover traps and captive bolt guns
The public was not fully informed of the cruel killing method.
8. Nontarget deer
Males will stay with the mother for up to one year and females will stay up to two years. The offspring of the dead moms, who may also be pregnant, will increase the actual deer kill if they cannot survive.
9. “Deer”-related motor-vehicle collisions
On Vancouver Island, deer-related motor-vehicle collisions tripled to approximately 100 over 10 years. However, this can be expected due to human population growth, the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, and a lack of safe wildlife corridors.
In spite of all the suffering and death, February 9 was a good deer day. First, Grand Fork mayor Brian Taylor told Lifeforce that they are now “undecided” as to whether they will kill deer and asked for assistance. Then, the newly formed Invermere Deer Protection Organization obtained an interim injunction which prevents Invermere from proceeding with their deer kill plans until February 24. Hopefully, a permanent legal remedy will follow.
Lifeforce is calling for a worldwide boycott of B.C. cities that refuse to use humane nonlethal methods and kill “urban” deer. Please read Boycott B.C. Deer Kills and sign the petitions. The deer need your help.
Peter Hamilton is the founding director of Lifeforce, a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization promoting animal rights and ecological responsibility.