Notes from Della Burford

Children’s storyteller Della Burford of the Woodstream Studio Gallery took these notes at the meeting on urban deer held on May 31, 2010:

In attending the meeting at the Kin Hut in Kinsman Park at Departure Bay about Nanaimo’s urban deer and the idea of potentially culling the deer, I was impressed that most of the people made suggestions of positive solutions to try to help the deer and there were a lot of conflict reduction options. Of the 50 plus people attending, ninty percent were for helping the deer. I will share a few thoughts and ideas I heard:

Most people seemed to agree that deer are losing their habitat – erosion of habitat – and that they need a place to live as well. It was brought up many times that this is a reflection of what is happening in the whole world. Many people made poignant comments like: the deer are not the problem, we are the problem, wildlife needs a place to live as well and it is our role as human beings to come up with a holistic and positive solution. Another gentleman commented that we should feel privileged to have the deer, and another said that we should feel blessed and that he would rather watch the deer than TV. Various people commented on how the deer are tourist attractions for Nanaimo and how much people visiting the city have enjoyed them.

The majority of people attending were against the idea of a cull, and one woman said that the cull is a barbaric solution. This was followed by a gentleman saying it is just a bandage solution and the majority do not want it. A woman who is a veterinarian said to capture and relocate often results in a high death rate as is it very stressful for the animals. Another dangerous situation was people who sic their dogs on the deer as this will make them run into traffic. The main concern which was repeated many times was speeding cars.

Many suggestions were shared – these are just a few:

Nearly everyone seemed to agree that counting the actual number of deer was one requirement and a gentleman said he knew a method for doing this and had students who could participate. Another was an education program about the deer – Gabriola Island has a successful program at the present time, and I am sure they are other communities that could be role models.

It was also suggested that more signs on the road are required for wildlife, speed restrictions in travelled areas, speed bumps, fencing and safe passes. Another woman mentioned in Ottawa they had a program started in 2006 to avoid a cull – the “Speeding costs You Deerly” program – to try to bring an awareness to slow down and not speed and had a 38% decrease in deer deaths on the road and has saved one million dollars in insurance claims – a huge saving.

One person had a list of deer resistant plants and bushes, and another a list of trees that could be planted to serve as food for the deer. Another person suggested developers should allow a certain amount of green space for the deer. There was a suggestion of using water motion devices in gardens to keep deer from garden areas where they are not wanted.

People generally felt we should move forward and it was suggested there should be an Integrated Citizen Committee. In working together, there is no doubt positive solutions can be found.