DEER MANAGEMENT SOCIETY
Updated January 2024
Table of Contents
The Sidney Island Deer Management Society was founded in Nov. 2021 to provide a voice to Island Owners who disagreed with Parks Canada’s plans to completely eradicate the island’s Fallow and Blacktail deer in an effort to protect some of the natural plant species.
SIDNEY ISLAND DEER MANAGEMENT SOCIETY INCOP. # S0075496
Constitutional purpose: To promote the management of fallow deer and blacktail deer to ensure their continued presence on Sidney Island, British Columbia.
Purpose and Goals
The Society’s purpose is to promote the management of fallow deer and blacktail deer, to ensure their continued presence on Sidney Island, British Columbia.
To Promote and Advocate with our Sidney Island stakeholders for a more efficient and viable Deer Management Plan as an alternative to the proposed eradication plan.
To ensure the deer management plan represents a positive approach which takes into account the importance of restoration and results in a win-win solution where differing interests can be resolved amicably.
To work with First Nations who hunt in the marine park, for the purpose of developing an effective and consistently managed hunt on Sidney Island.
To seek the advice of the strata hunt committee and the hunt club on controlling native black tail deer and naturalized fallow deer on Sidney Island, and to promote a healthy herd by collecting and maintaining more detailed hunting records to support a responsible, ongoing deer management plan.
Freedom of Information Request
Results of FOI Request for Documents Relating to Parks Canada’s Proposal to Eradicate Deer on Sidney Island
Feb. 14, 2022
Introduction: The period subject to the request was 2017- June 7, 2021. On August 9, 2021 FOI advised there were 12,000 pages included under the criteria chosen. After reviewing the document titles, it was decided to look at 585 pages. We have reserved the right to look at more and we are considering making a further request to bring us up to date. The following is a very brief summary. Note that the purpose of this summary is not to repeat information about the eradication proposal which is already known but instead to identify what we did not know.
PDF (7MB) — Freedom of Information Document (opens in a new window)
Page numbers shown below refer to the page numbers in the above PDF file.
The earliest budget appears in Coastal Conservation’s 2012 proposal. The budget was suggested at $798,850. (Page 131)
The latest budget found in the documents and dated Nov 2019-April 2022 provided a budget of $2,841,325. (Page 227) We are advised there is an updated budget that comes in at 6 million. We emphasize we have not seen this document.
The budget for Restoration is dealt with outside of the eradication budget. It is not clear whether this is an aspirational budget or a committed budget: $22,000 for hawthorn removal for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 and $5,000 for trees/seeds for same period. (Page 298)
Actual expenditures for 2021 are listed as $9,600 for 8 exclosures and $5,000 for hawthorn removal. (Page 419)
2. HUNTING TECHNIQUES
Aerial hunting is budgeted at $1,080,000. ($9,000 a day for 120 days). Hunting with dogs is set at $960,000. ($8,000 a day for 120 days) (Page 244). The aerial hunting budget indicates the importance of this technique. The proposal advises:
“Aerial hunting is likely to be highly successful for fallow deer on Sidney Island because most of the forest canopy is open enough to detect deer and there are numerous natural and man-made openings on the Island”. (Page 66)
Note: Will aerial hunting be used to herd deer on private property?
3. INSURANCE COVERAGE
The documents on this issue are confusing but the bottom line seems to be expressed in an email dated April 27, 2021, to Parks Canada’s project manager: “The key to this is that we are not taking on the liability, we are transferring liability to those who have insurance. This is limited in scope to Sallas lands”. (Page 552). Further comments indicate that private landowners must rely on the insurance of the hunters rather than Coastal Conservation or any indemnity from Canada. This would be described in an “access agreement” with owners. It is not clear what insurance owners could rely on if they do not sign an agreement. (Page 552) Note: there is no legal draft relating to insurance in the documents but there are significant redactions of legal advice.
4. ROLE OF COASTAL CONSERVATION
Coastal Conservation’s (CC) mission is to remove introduced invasive vertebrate species from islands to encourage natural recovery of the ecosystem. The documents indicate that CC and its staff and technical advisors continue to contract with Parks Canada and are “running the show” to obtain approval for their eradication proposal. In looking at a million dollar increase in budget it is stated that “no one else can do the work”. Further: “Will likely go out to bid, but could potentially make a case for sole source via public works” (Page 256). CC’s Head of Global Affairs is the Chair of SIERP. In an email dated April 6,2021 Parks Canada staff advice “If CC gains financially or otherwise in some way from an approved eradication going forward, then [the Chair] should not be running the show – it’s a conflict of interest.” (Page 306)
The Chair has turned down the suggestion from Parks Canada to look at alternatives in an Email dated Dec 16, 2020: “The Concept of control of fallow deer coming into the conversation concerns me because it is not in line with the Purpose of the project as we defined it last year or in the MOU.” (page 445) In notes prepared for the SIERP on August 6, 2020 the Chair writes the following: “…the numbers of deer on the Island have been reduced dramatically and the impacts of fallow deer are not really obvious and it is unlikely that the BENEFIT of eradication will be clear on implementation.” (Page 219) To overcome this he suggests a communications strategy relying on owners’ vegetable gardens and arbutus saplings. (Page 219)
Biosecurity (no repopulation) is considered highly important to the success of eradication given the population of fallow deer on James Island, Mayne Island and possibly other islands. (page 139) The CC Proposal advises: “It is important the biosecurity plan be maintained as needed in perpetuity because the long-term benefit of fallow deer removal to the biodiversity of Sidney Island will depend on continued project support from Parks Canada, Sallas, and the public to maintain a deer free island”. (page 139) In evaluating the Project, Parks Canada questioned the long term sustainability of biosecurity. (Page 187)
Parks Canada takes the position that so long as a deer can be killed in a humane way, eradication is ethical. However, documents reviewed by Parks Canada, (Animal Kind, supported BC SPCA) advise: “Lethal Methods may only be used when an animal’s presence is an ongoing threat to human health and safety”. (Page 389) Further the eradication must be achievable. As a result of biosecurity issues and because our fallow deer are “educated” this is by no means certain.
Further, in an email dated April 2,2021 from an ecological restoration specialist for Parks Canada advises the following: “an ecosystem can support some number of fallow deer, we could consider them naturalized (our italics) and work to maintain the species”. She goes on to describe eradication as an “expensive and dramatic option” that can only be justified if there is evidence a healthy ecology requires “zero” fallow deer. She asks where that evidence is. (Page 537-538)