Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deer Advocates: Letter-Writing to CRD

Speaking Up For Greater Victoria Deer
Advocating for Human Management, not Deer Management
Greater Victoria Deer Advocates, Victoria, British Columbia
(On Facebook:

Dear deer advocates,

Friends of Animals is calling on all deer advocates to write the Capital Regional District (CRD) to encourage the adoption of a human management strategy, rather than a deer management strategy.

It needs to be recognized that we humans have encroached on their territory, and continue to reduce green spaces (and predators), leaving few alternatives for already declining deer communities. (Vancouver Island populations have dropped from estimates of 200,000 to 50,000 deer in the last 30 years.)

We do not need to attempt to control deer populations, as we've demonstrated ad naseum: we as a species are fantastically inept at predicting all outcomes when meddling with nature, with undesired and unexpected consequences often being the outcome. In this light, we really ought to be managing our own behaviours. Simply reducing deer numbers (through killing or contraception) fulfills a significant law of nature: "Nature abhors a void". Killing deer in an area results in more plant growth, which will eventually draw more deer, who will need more killing (or contraception), in an endless cycle, if the CRD follows this route.

If we manage our own spaces, and change our own behaviour, we can find a happy and sustainable medium that addresses the main concerns of the CRD and local population. This includes:

* driving at reasonable speeds
* erecting more warning signs (be creative with design to get attention)
* promote provincial grants for fencing where necessary (specifically for farms)
* provide educational information and materials that are easy to access

Home owners must accept that deer may be active near-by, and take steps such as utilizing native plants that deer are unlikely to eat. When enough homes become unappealing, areas will no longer be attractive to deer, and they will reside elsewhere - and not return.

Really though, it is a privilege to share our spaces with deer and other animals, and we really need to foster this attitude. With some effort, given how green Victoria is, we can welcome nature safely into our spaces, and co-exist peacefully with the rest of the non-human world.

Please take a few minutes to write a letter to the CRD - we're encouraging letters that include the following three main points:

* expectation of human management plans instead of deer management
* express sentiments of deer appreciation
* flatly oppose any and all killing of deer

Please send your email to or use this online form: - feel free to CC or post your letter to our blog. Spread the word, and tell your friends and other animal advocates.

Also, we encourage you to sign the letters as a 'Supporter of the Greater Victoria Deer Advocates' to identify our group.

Thank-you for speaking-up for local animals!

Dave Shishkoff
Canadian Correspondent
Friends of Animals
Web Site:
FoA Vegan Starter Guide PDF:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Deer In Victoria: CRD Forms a Management Committee

CRD Meeting: To Form a 'Deer Management Committee'?

On Wednesday, February 22nd, I attended the CRD (Capital Regional District) meeting with discussion to start a program to deal with the 'deer issue' in Greater Victoria. Most of the time spent was from 17 presenters, who each had 5 minutes to speak, and this was followed by discussion from the CRD board.

Given the spin on the issue from the local media, I was expecting the four speakers representing Saanich farmers to be in favor of killing deer. Surprisingly, most did not give this impression, and some expressed similar sentiments to the advocates in marveling at their visitors. I cannot say that killing is off the table, but the impression is that they would prefer other solutions to the matter, which was refreshing and encouraging.

Our position (as Friends of Animals, and the Greater Victoria Deer Advocates) is that we need a Human Management Plan, and that we need to be pro-active, and take steps to make our homes less appealing to deer if we don't want them in our cities. Regardless of the level of acceptance, we need to treat them with respect, and recognize that they, too, are entitled to live, and that we have been reducing their habitat (certainly not the other way around.) We need to cultivate an attitude of respect and tolerance, and do away with the prevailing culture of domination and control.

Below are the highlights from my notes of each presenter, apologies in advance if I misrepresent any facts or statements, please use our comments section to clarify any matters, and discussion is welcome as well.

#1 - Wendy Fox, Saanich Peninsula Farmers
- farms cover 100's of acres, feel limited in what they can do
- farmers can kill up to 5 deer a year [??]
- we need to differentiate between rural and urban deer issues
- insists we need to get deer to manageable numbers
- deer need a major thinning
- farmers are losing $10,000's

#2 - Liz White, Animal Alliance
- there needs to be equal representation on the committee
- Ministry of Environment is pushing for killing as a 'solution'
- the CAG (Citizens Advisory Group) need to be revised, it's heavily biased against deer

#3 - Jordan Reichert, DeerSafe Victoria
- there doesn't appear to be any addressing of the loss of deer habitat
- no local population estimate actually exists, overall Island deer populations are diminishing
- we need to move away from a mechanistic approach, to a holistic one
- in the CRD proposal, "living with the deer" comes off as an off-hand suggestion, rather than a real possibility (other three areas of focus are on controlling deer populations.)
- "let's make the most of our inevitable relationship [with deer]"

#4 - Valerie ?
- we should lobby the Provincial Gov't for fencing, grants exist
- the cull would cost $500 per deer
- Island deer populations have dropped from 200,000 in 1980 to 50,000 at present [hope i got this right DS]
- human population is growing, and is the problem
- we're living on an island, little room elsewhere for deer

#5 - Tony Rose
- it's a privilege to share our land with deer
- what kind of message are we sending children by killing deer
- no actual statistics on damages from deer exists
- fear of deer is CeRviDeaphobia - notice CRD is right in there (humourous quip)
- killing deer is catering to a small number of people

#6 - Kelly Carson
- no consideration for sensitive people, who are disturbed by these actions
- the killing of a deer is a traumatic experience to witness or be near
- let's not introduce trauma into our communities

#7 - Nabhraj Spogliarich
- commented on how Canada appears from other countries, that in the news, we mainly are known for either environmental catastrophes, or killing animals, like seals, grizzlies, etc..
- seal slaughter is an embarrassment to the country, and finally coming to an end, but not because of leadership from the gov't
- we kill animals like grizzlies even tho scientists tell us we need to stop, Canada ignores science
- "Is this how we want other nations to see us?"
- Victoria needs to set an example, not follow others, like Cranbrook [where they are killing deer]
- in nearly all instances, more than 50% of Canadians oppose killing of wild animals, yet gov't marches on

#8 - Dale Lovell
- sympathetic to farmers
- has lost own plants, veggies to deer, but accepts this
- feels fortunate to see deer
- phrasing in CRD 'Terms of Reference' inappropriate, language strongly in favor of killing based on appearance of words like slaughter, cull, etc..

#9 - Sheenagh Rose
- demonstrated creative 'rhino' road signs that say 'watch for deer'
- encourages committee to be compassionate, understanding
- says don't feed deer
- 99% of road accidents are essentially because of distracted drivers, according to ICBC
- deer are 24th on the list of dangers to drivers according to ICBC
- Colwood has some good examples of road signs, other communities very lacking
- "urban deer are my neighbors"

#10 - Larry Wartel
- read part of the script from Story of Stuff
- animals have nowhere to live, this conflict needs our focus

#11 - Mrs. Graham
- current methods (hazing, shot noises) inappropriate for most areas
- CRD website missing numerous submitted advocate letters, including hers and others she knows
- culling is not a solution, will result in growth spurt from plants, attracting yet more deer
- all new developments should be required to create wildlife corridors

#13 - Edith ? [#12 was speaking on another matter, #13 through 17 were late additions, so names not on meeting agenda copy i had DS]
- deer remind us to slow down, drive more reasonably
- deer are a joy for children
- fencing would pay for itself [in most cases very quickly]

#14 - ?? [advocate]
- engineer wildlife corridors between CRD parks and green areas
- development pressures are forcing deer into other areas, Oak Bay, etc.
- human hair (from salons) and pet hair are effective deterrents

#15 - Ryan Vantreight [Farms]
- farmers begging for action, need help
- geese are trouble as well
- today is about 'do we do something'

#16 - Terry Michell [Farms]
- they chase deer around 400 acres of farmland
- claims cost of fencing would be 'as high as' $1.2 million
- only has become an issue in the last 2-3 years
- worried about 'food safe ' issues

#17 - ?? [Farmer?]
- deer and geese cost $60,000 in damages
- Saanich has no fire-arm policies [assuming "5" annual deer killed by arrows? DS]

Following the Presentations/Delegations was CRD board discussion, here are my notes from this as well:

- fencing is not a solution, sometimes harms deer
- asked "what is the right number of deer"
- some areas more urgent than others, focus on "farms", then deal with "urban" issues.
- Mayor Dean Fortin asked to put this in scale, if this should be a priority at all, are there more important matters that are affecting the community more significantly than this
- deer themselves are not "urban" or "rural"

I've come across two media reports on this:

- video from CTV:
- Times Colonist article: 
- ADDED: ShawTV news clip:

Discussion is welcome below, or join the Friends of Animals group on Facebook, the Greater Victoria Deer Advocates:

And finally, our information is also on our website:

Join our email list or the Facebook group to receive more updates on this matter, thanks!

Dave Shishkoff
Canadian Correspondent
Friends of Animals
Web Site:
FoA Vegan Starter Guide PDF:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Single-Issue Campaigns: What They Are and How They Work

The following piece is from Movement Watch by Lee Hall, in the Winter 2011-12 issue of ActionLine, the Friends of Animals magazine.

Unfortunately, some activists have declared what they call 'single-issue' campaigns a stain on animal rights activism, and these efforts are never to be supported or followed. We believe this is a mistaken way to look at this, and so long as the effort is grounded in vegan and animal rights ideologies, and results in the end of a form of oppression, we support these efforts and refuse to allow their ideas to stagnate or paralyze activism. Read on, and we welcome discussion below.
Single-Issue Campaigns: What They Are and How They Work
Increasingly, activists use the buzzword single-issue to describe interventions for specific animals or communities of animals in particular locales. I’ve given this some thought recently. And it’s dawned on me that single-issue is a misleading term. Each individual, and each community of animals, is connected with others. No raccoon, no deer, no coyote, no fox is a lone raccoon, deer, coyote or fox. Each is an individual whose life matters, yet deer or foxes or coyotes interact with each other (which is how they are defined as a species); and they are, in turn, members of a larger community of life on Earth.

In any case, should anyone’s plight be dismissed for being particular, and thus somehow undeserving of current attention?

It’s appropriate to defend serious anti-fur campaigns; to stop a local, state or federal deer kill; or to support other specific interventions. Let us celebrate and support campaigners and caregivers who present a local case in connection broad changes in culture.

Friends of Animals’ work, as readers know, includes the recognition of good reasons to stop fur sales. Now, if a group is going to argue to the U.S. agriculture department that a Michigan farm ought to kill its chinchillas with one method instead of another, then we would explain (and we have explained!) the trouble with that kind of non-committal campaign.

In contrast, say a state, province or country banishes fur farms. We could count that as a welcome advancement. If we can end the use of pelts, wherever such ending might be possible, animals who could have lived free (minks, lynx, rabbits, seals, beavers, Arctic foxes…), can live free. Any time we successfully defend a free-living animal’s (or community’s) interest in living free of human domination, any time our actions free entire communities to actually experience what would be theirs if animal rights were a reality, this is a good thing and it is a step ahead.

Indeed, even though bulls cannot enjoy animal rights in the sense of living free, what animal advocate wouldn’t welcome an outright end to bullfighting in México? An adios to a sector that breeds bulls to torment and kill them for sport would be worthy of at least an audible sigh of collective relief. Although the best ban is the one we enact by controlling ourselves when we stop exploiting other animals, various bans are, in the meantime, ethically important where they can be obtained.

Some ask whether targeting fur and not leather in a given campaign is inconsistent. Leather is largely a commodity related to and encompassed by a bigger sector: animal agribusiness. Thus, we can’t ban it, so much as work on the vital issue of urging the people of our society to stop buying animal products. In the new edition of Friends of Animals’ Vegan Starter Guide, we talk about why avoidance of leather is important in animal advocacy. Check it out and share!

Striving for a consistent message, we challenge exploitation everywhere we can. Sometimes this means working on a project to stop the extermination of raccoons, sometimes to challenge language labs, sometimes to challenge the use of animal skins for fashion, and sometimes to encourage people to buy organic cotton socks instead of wool. There are many facets. If a fur ban is possible, let’s seize the day. Some will say it would not bring about a vegan culture. But it would bring our society nearer to a full shift in consciousness; so it is one of those things we need to achieve a vegan culture.
What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dave Shishkoff
Canadian Correspondent
Friends of Animals
Web Site:
FoA Vegan Starter Guide PDF: