Oh deer me

Oh deer me
by Heather Harbord, 21
 October 2016.

Seven members dripped their way around the forest with Rick Page, the previous night’s speaker.  We started out near the former Artaban Centre and walked through to the pole line and back along McFall Creek, which was in full flood.

Rick pointed out various examples of foliage which had been recently and not-so-recently dined on by deer.  A five foot yew tree had been sheared back to its trunk from the ground up to about the four foot level.  It was a strange piece of topiary to find in the middle of a regenerating clear-cut.

My rain jacket leaked through to an under jacket and the wallet in my pocket was sopping.  Nobody drowned, but we all soaked our car seats on the way home and undressed into the dryer.

The area has potential for a birding or tree frog field trip in the spring
when the weather should be more clement.

Rick Page – “Urban deer: they’re here to stay”

Rick Page – “Urban deer: they’re here to stay”
by Andrew Bryant, 20 October 2016.

Having previously worked on geese in Ontario, caribou in Spatzisi, and the moose and wolves of Isle Royale, Dr. Rick Page recently visited to share his considerable knowledge and experience of “urban deer“.

Deer are are beautiful and impressive creatures, but bring problems to the urban landscape.  Without natural predators such as cougars and wolves, deer populations can grow quickly.   The average lifespan of a “wild” deer is about 4 years, but without predation it can rise to >10 years.   Because females typically breed every year, the result is predictable: a lot more deer.

Deer overpopulation increases traffic accidents, damage to crops and gardens, aggression to pets and humans, and the potential for transmission of things like Lyme disease (via deer ticks).  It also leads to unhealthy deer populations.

As with any ecological problem, there’s no quick “one-size fits-all” solution to the urban deer issue. In BC, jurisdictions such as Oak Bay or Cranbrook have employed a variety of “conflict reduction” or “population reduction” methods, including fences, chemical repellents, roadside signage, lethal culls, translocation, or surgical or chemical sterilization practices.  These can be both costly – and controversial.

Urban deer are here to stay.  Fences, careful choice of garden plantings, and landscape-level planning can help, but they’re not going to make the problem go away.

Any successful deer management program requires stable, long-term funding and scientific evaluation – but to date, as Rick underscored with wit and humor, we’ve not been particularly good at providing much of either.