The City of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada made threats to exterminate their deer population in a “deer cull”. There are too many friendly, Bambi-like characters wandering aimlessly about the city looking for tasty treats. Several problems come to mind, the most concerning of which is that they eat everyone’s flowers, create traffic hazards when they wander into the middle of the road and stare at oncoming traffic. There is a clear overpopulation issue. Finally, they aren’t afraid of humans and will wander right up to them. This can be hazardous to some deer since not all humans are friendly.
In fact, one malicious tormentor shot crossbows at the deer intending not to kill them but to injure them and let them suffer. According to an article in CBC, the poor animals were shot in the neck and head rendering them incapable of eating. It seems there is a junior sociopath on the loose. Furthermore, there are officials that want to participate in deer extermination. The City of Nanaimo considered deer extermination or “deer cull” as one way to control the population.
The B.C. Deer Protection Coalition lists several claims that residents make regarding the deer population: that there are too many deer; that these animals transmit diseases; that there are more car accidents involving deer; that gardens, trees and bushes are being damaged; and lastly that people are experiencing violent deer behavior. According to the coalition the deer population is actually dwindling; most deer populations do not carry disease but when they do, it is a low risk to humans. Apparently, black-tailed deer do not migrate over great distances; according to the insurance company ICBC, less than 1% of accidents are attributed to deer. There are non-lethal measures that can be taken to protect property (fencing works); finally a public education program could help educate people about aggressive deer behavior which is a very rare occurrence. All this sounds reasonable.
In a conversation with L. Parker, a Resource Management student at Vancouver Island University, Parker explained that culling deer will only create more culling as the population increases. According to the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition, there is evidence that deer extermination results in population increase through the Compensatory Rebound Effect. The deer that remain after a cull produce more offspring in response to the increased availability of food. This is why culling turns into a cycle of violence every year; the cycle of violence doesn’t stop with deer.
The City of Nanaimo is in the process of logging Linley Valley, a beautiful forested area in North Nanaimo that provides a home to many deer and other animals. Once the trees in this forest are cut down and the housing is erected, an alarming number of deer and other animals migrate down the hill into other neighborhoods and traffic. The houses built in Linley Valley are supposed to be sustainable and environmentally sound, but this seems ironic given the fact that they are destroying animal habitats in order to build. The student paper the Navigator states that Nanaimo is approving low-density developments that are single-use and dependent on automobiles in the last unprotected wetland and habitat in the city.
The City of Nanimo, of course, has now dropped plans for the deer extermination, as they don’t want to upset the constituents who vote for them. They are instead opting for the all too common, “hear no evil, see no evil” theme. If they make no decision, the problem still exists, but at least they still have a job. Unfortunately something does have to be done about the deer as they are truly a nuisance and should not be hanging about in the city. There must be some kind of compromise between the Deer Coalition and those that want to cull the deer. A committee of representatives from both sides should be formed who are willing to compromise and discuss legitimate ways to tackle this problem.
Editorial by: Nicole Drawc