Lesley Fox: Buck B.C.’s reckless deer slaughter

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      First things first. Let’s call it a mass slaughter and not a “cull”. Using euphemisms belittles us both.

      While I can appreciate that several B.C. communities are concerned about the presence of deer, where are the scientific studies to prove that killing them makes any ecological sense?

      Right now, several B.C. municipalities are trapping and shooting deer because there is a perceived overpopulation. However, killing dozens of wild animals does nothing to address human-wildlife conflicts. Research shows the remaining animals simply reproduce and other animals migrate to fill in the empty niche.

      Furthermore, this slaughter does not address the human behaviours that are at the root of this problem. For years, humans have been killing off the deer’s natural predators such as wolves and coyotes. Some people have also been luring ungulates into our neighbourhoods by feeding them, even though it is against the law.

      Despite all this common sense and reasoning, the City of Cranbrook baited, trapped, and shot 25 deer in December 2011. This month, Kimberley is expected to quadruple that number. Grand Forks, Kelowna, Victoria, Saanich, and other municipalities in B.C. (and across Canada) are considering killing urban deer too.

      To help pacify those against B.C.’s deer slaughter, officials are claiming the slaughter will be “humane”.

      The deer will be trapped in a net and then shot in the head with a captive bolt gun, which is what slaughterhouse workers use on domestic animals such as cows and pigs.

      At this point, it would be easy for me to launch into my usual rhetoric about what is wrong with slaughterhouses, but to stay on topic, using a captive bolt gun to kill deer is completely reckless and irresponsible.

      Deer are wild animals. Capturing them in nets causes stress and makes them susceptible to limb fractures. Also, captive bolt guns were not designed for wild animals. If the bolt gun misses, the gruesome process has to be repeated. This is completely unacceptable.

      If all of this wasn’t bad enough, government officials are claiming the deer meat will be sent to local food banks.

      Does anyone really believe that pawning off deer meat on the less fortunate will lessen the cruelty?

      In Ontario, you can’t even donate wild game to food banks. Citing provincial regulations, Food Banks Canada recently made a “strong recommendation” to Ontario food banks to reject meat that wasn’t raised in captivity or from a licensed slaughterhouse.

      Why should B.C. food banks be any different?

      B.C.’s systematic slaughter of these animals needs to stop. It’s not just about the deer either.

      Over the past few years, an alarming number of wild animals across Canada have been killed because of perceived overpopulations or human-wildlife conflicts.

      Consider this: In British Columbia alone, almost 200 bears were shot and killed by conservation officers in 2011.

      Also in 2011, the B.C. government announced open season on wolves. Under the new wildlife regulations, there is no closed season and no bag limit on hunting and trapping wolves in the Cariboo region, which includes 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Quesnel, and the Chilcotin. This means wolves can now be killed even when their pups are with them.

      Coyotes are under attack too. Possibly the most vilified of all fur-bearing animals, just one skinny coyote can enrage dozens of farmers, terrify dog-walkers, and make parents of small children paranoid.

      Despite the fact that coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare, the media perpetuates the terror by sounding the alarm whenever a coyote is spotted. Why?

      Across Canada, coyotes are hated so much that Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan put bounties on them. In 2010, Nova Scotians killed 2,643 coyotes. From November 2009 to March 31, 2010, 71,000 coyotes were killed in Saskatchewan.

      Even little Peter Rabbit isn’t safe.

      In 2010, the University of Victoria vowed to kill any rabbit living on campus. More recently, the town of Canmore, Alberta, was ready to blast away their feral rabbit population, estimated at 2,000.

      If it wasn’t for animal protection advocates who trapped, spayed/neutered, and sent these rabbits to sanctuaries, all of these rabbits would have been dead.

      Our natural world is in serious turmoil. We need to stop messing with animal populations and step back to actually learn about their biology and behaviour.

      It is clear our government is failing us, and the media is making matters worse by over exaggerating the situation.

      At this point, we need to take responsibility for ourselves, put up fencing, clean up our garbage, plant flowers/vegetables that are unattractive to wildlife, and use either commercial or homemade repellents when necessary. We must also never feed, pet, or try to hold wild animals. A fed animal is a dead animal.

      Lastly, if we have any hope of saving the natural world, we have to speak out to our local city council. We need to do everything we can, and with great persistence, to buck the growing trend of sanctioned wildlife kills.

      Lesley Fox is the executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, a nonprofit animal-protection organization based in Burnaby.



      Kelly Sterling

      Jan 6, 2012 at 2:43pm

      There are too many deer because you took away their habitat with all your houses and condos and businesses. And now you're gonna kill them all. What the hell is wrong with society? Deer have become like the new pit bull! Kim them all!!!! And charge anyone who's feeding them! Pathetic. I'm embarassed to live in this province. It's becoming all too U.S. like to me...

      S. Carroll

      Jan 6, 2012 at 3:25pm

      What an excellent article by Lesley Fox. On all points she is right. Our entire country has a shameful track record with regards to all wildlife issues. In our province, the answer to every wildlife 'problem' (perceived), has traditionally been a bullet, and now we are going beyond the pale by importing a loathsome slaughterhouse killing method from Helena, Montana, the clovertrap/boltgun cull, a method denounced by the American Humane Society and by respected wildlife scientists and veterinarians in the U.S. See www.netandboltcruelty.net. The cruelty of this method is well documented, and, as Lesley Fox alludes to in her article, the 'humaneness' of a four inch steel spike driven into the head of a domestic animal in a slaughterhouse is also questionable. If there is no public outcry, this method will sweep the province and become a yearly affair, part of the winter ritual of trimming the tree, putting up the Christmas lights, and trapping and boltgunning the local deer. Our government has a full out war on all wildlife, whether they be prey animals or predators. They are vilified and demonized to justify their slaughter. Beautiful British Columbia? Not for the wildlife. It really is time for residents with a heart for wildlife to let our municipal and provincial government officials know that we are sick of it, and we want responsible and compassionate wildlife 'stewardship' in B.C., instead of a bullet or a boltgun.

      William Jesse

      Jan 6, 2012 at 3:55pm

      Here we go again on beautiful Vancouver Island. First it was the rabbits and now its the deer. How long before its the crows and the squirrels.
      Its amazing how so few people can cause politicians (and university administrators) to make such decisions. When the University of Victoria announced a "cull" of the rabbits on campus news went viral. I am certain the university suffered some pretty bad PR. Wonder how Victoria, Saanich or Oak Bay will fare?
      Today's school children are taught to be environmentally aware. How do you tell these children that some innocent wild animals are in our way and we have to kill them?
      This whole thing sickens me and makes me really hate what I thought was a beautiful place. Beautiful British Columbia, my ass!

      Lifeforce Foundation

      Jan 6, 2012 at 4:50pm

      Stop Blaming Deer for Human Mistakes!

      In addition to the seasonal government hunting licenses to kill deer, there is this new government plan to kill "urban deer". There will be at least 225 more deer targeted. BC is infamous for their "wildlife management plans" that continue to create imbalances of wildlife populations. Human overpopulation, urban sprawl, destruction of wildlife habitats and other contributing factors to human/wildlife conflicts must all be taken into consideration when developing policies for human, animal and environmental protection.

      See the Lifeforce Facebook Boycott BC Deer Kills:

      Dave Shishkoff

      Jan 6, 2012 at 4:55pm

      Well said - i don't understand how instituting what would have to become an annual slaughter could ever be considered a 'solution'. It's such a narrow way to think.

      Gratitude to Lesley for encouraging a positive attitude towards other animals we share the Earth with; let's learn to live in peace with them, rather than the false and bleak attitude that somehow we're at 'war' with nature.

      Dave Shishkoff
      Canadian Correspondent
      Friends of Animals
      http://TheVictoriaVegan.com (on the Island)

      Mmmm... venison

      Jan 6, 2012 at 6:50pm

      I think this could become a big part of the urban farming movement. Periodic culls so the deer don't get too frightened and stay away, and then share the meat among town residents. Maybe even some big barbecues. Yum!

      M.G. Stevens

      Jan 6, 2012 at 8:11pm

      You do a job of sticking up for the deer - now how about taking into account the human side of the story. If your kid was very much in danger of being attacked by a protective mother doe, you'd possibly feel different. I live in a rural area, and deer and bears are a real danger. We do all we can to not attract them and still have very close encounters a dozen times a year. Should we all just live in a high-rise somewhere?

      I don't see any real solutions in your article to the fact that the people are here (there) and the deer are moving in. It's not like the houses were built around them. You can make a case for their disappearing habitat, but until you see them pay no mind to a car moving mere feet from them, you start to realize the danger. Some balance would make the article more readable and you more credible. Until you walk in someone's shoes...


      Jan 6, 2012 at 11:25pm

      do you relly believe this crap
      what about the people being attacked by these animals
      there is also the problem of car accidents
      is it fine for people to be injured in a car accident over a wild animal
      get your priorities straight

      Marg Buckholtz

      Jan 7, 2012 at 6:05am

      So-called "culls" of wild animals are ineffective as well as unethical. If there is a food supply, the numbers will quickly return to what they were.

      Deer hunter

      Jan 7, 2012 at 6:35am

      Don't do that we need them in lousisana.i suggest tranqualizing them and transporting to other states like Louisiana.the goverment could give deer meat in place of food stamps that would offset the cost to transport the deer.