Brief Summary of Opposition to Eradication of Deer on Sidney Island
December 13, 2021

1) Eradication is NOT “critical” to restoration.

Parks Canada and the Ecological Stewardship Committee (ESC) have consistently insisted that restoration can only be accomplished by the eradication of fallow deer. We are of the view this is misinformation. It is not supported by either scientific fact or anecdotal observation. (See Arcese, UBC study Degradation and Restoration, Five Years of Deer Management on Sidney Island, June 3,2018 , and Julia Hedley’s Zoom presentation, both on the SIERP website) New owners should use their own eyes to come to their own conclusions.

“Restoration” is a process and not and end point. It is not possible to predict what restoration will look like. Climate change will have a huge impact. A small well managed herd of deer has not and will not prevent ongoing “restoration” on Sidney Island. The ESC has advised the top priority for restoration is getting rid of hawthorn trees and scotch broom. Eradication is irrelevant to those two goals which we wholeheartedly support as well as other restoration efforts.

2) The Unnecessary Eradication of a Small herd of Deer is Unethical.

We recommend reading Robin Bassett’s and Lisa Cowan’s article entitled “Ethical Considerations Regarding Eradication of fallow deer” (See the Sidney Island Website under SIERP dated February 27, 2021)

Two important court cases have been decided since that article was written. The Alberta Court of Appeal, in an abuse case involving a dog, decided that animals are “sentient beings”, and that physical abuse is tantamount to “criminal violence.” Sentencing must take that into account.

The Ohio Federal court, in a complex international case involving Hippo’s in Columbia decided that these animals are “sentient beings” and should be given the status of “persons” (

The methods used to eradicate deer are abusive and cruel. (Helicopter hunting, hunting with dogs, hunting at night, noise, traps, and fencing). They cause stress, mental anguish and panic and are illegal unless special permission is granted by the BC Government.

3) Invasiveness is not in itself an appropriate basis for eradication.

We recommend reading the comments of Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer, BCSPCA on this issue. (
*Note: This link also includes a book chapter and academic paper on the wildlife control principles referenced in the presentation by Sara DuBois.

Parks Canada insists on describing fallow deer as ‘invasive” and “hyperabundant.” These are arbitrary and pejorative terms and lead to the interpretation that fallow deer are “bad” or “pests” or “vermin,” thus suggesting they do not deserve any moral consideration. Let’s remember fallow deer were introduced by humans. They have been here a long time and are naturalized. They should be considered a part of our biodiversity. They are no less important than our Camas lilies or Ocean Spray which are now seeing marked restoration with lower deer populations in recent years. To quote Sir David Attenborough: “I think sometimes we need to take a step back and remember we have no greater right to be here than any other animal.”

4) Sidney Island has proved, over a long period of time, that it has the hunting capacity to ensure a stable and sustainable small herd of deer.

It is true that in 2008-2010, Sidney Island faced a crisis of overpopulation and that significant damage to the island ecology resulted. However, we now have many years of experience with our yearly hunting and cull program. We know as of four years ago that restoration is occurring with a smaller controlled and managed herd of deer. (See Degredation and Restoration, Five Years of Deer Management on Sidney Island, Arcese, UBC, June 3,2018 on the SIERP website) More recent research is needed. The Society would like to work in coordination the Hunt Committee, hunters and the Environment Committee to increase the information and data collected from the hunt in order to monitor the impact of the herd in the future. For example, track the size of the herd, where they can usually be found, identify improvements to support the hunters, map changes in the understory and identify circumstances when professional cull hunters may be used. The Society’s goal is to implement a comprehensive deer management plan ensuring a win-win result for Sidney Island that will include the ongoing process of restoration without eradication.

5) Sidney Islanders have made it clear there is no consensus on eradication. The status quo is the only prudent course of action.

In the Community Plan Survey conducted in Dec 2020 (see under the “Community Plan” on the SI website) 44% of Islanders said that continued hunting was either important or very important as a key value. The remainder were mostly neutral. The Straw poll conducted in July 2021, 29 0wners or 36% voted to end the eradication project immediately. To carry out an eradication with this level of opposition is socially irresponsible.

Moreover after 5 years of debate and constant requests for information from Parks Canada we have NO answers on the following critical issues: indemnity and insurance, whether eradication is achievable, how many owners will refuse to consent to the use of their property, who will decide whether it can be done safely, how disruptive will it be, how long will it take, how will we deal with animal welfare groups who are well aware of Parks Canada’s plans, how much will it cost the tax payers of Canada, and will Parks Canada reimburse SI for destroying one of our key resources.

The risks involved in eradication are unknown and may be significant. Parks Canada’s consistent lack of transparency and openness make them an untrustworthy party (see Rob Milne’s and Hilary Smith’s article on the SIERP website dated May 10/21)

Better to go with what we know than risk entering unknowable territory. (See Robin Bassett’s article Comparison of Risk Factors on the SIERP website, Dated June 17/21)

Robin Bassett and Lisa Cowan