Island Deer Population

Ronda Murdock of Parksville, BC, sent me this letter about the deer population on south east Vancouver Island:

“I was troubled by an interview on CBC Radio’s On the Island program on October 18, 2010, in which Daniel Rondeau, a professor, was interviewed about the increase in deer populations on Vancouver Island. I am concerned listeners will believe that Vancouver Island has a deer population explosion, even though that is completely untrue.

The trend statistics from the wildlife science section of the provincial Environment Ministry, released on July 27, 2010, actually show a decline in the black-tail Columbian deer population on Vancouver Island. The population was estimated at 200,000 in 1980. By 1994 it had fallen to 124,000, and by 1997 to 86,000. Today it’s estimated at 50,000 to 55,000.

The east coast of Vancouver Island, with its ever-increasing human population, is more than 90 per cent private land. Most of this private land is corporate private clearcut forest and tree farm licence land. The remaining deer population is moving from the managed clearcut forest into urban areas, at the same time the forest edge is being converted into subdivisions and shopping centres.

Why is habitat loss and movement of deer to urban areas on southeast Vancouver Island being omitted from this conversation? The public deserves to know that the increase is in human population, while the decrease is in deer population and in wildlife habitat.”