Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oak Bay & CRD Deer Updates

A few days ago, the Oak Bay News published a letter from Nils Jensen & the Oak Bay Council on the deer. (Original PDF can be found here, a bit better formatting, from the City of Oak Bay website.)

It's great they're increasing feeding fines and allowing taller fences (there was a 6' height restriction, which is insufficient from keeping our bounding buddies out.) And they're mirroring our efforts by sending out two new CRD deer leaflets (which we link to on our Greater Victoria Deer Advocates site) in this week's Oak Bay News. Education is key to this issue.

An excerpt from our
Living With Deer booklet.
In the letter, Mayor Jensen writes "[in] the absence of any natural predation, the deer population has increased dramatically, and as a consequence, so are the incidents of deer/human conflict on the rise." While we know there is a raise in conflict, it's inaccurate and contentious to insist the "population has increased dramatically". We really don't know what the population is, as there have been no counts performed - either recently, or in the past. Mayor Jensen is pushing his confirmation bias, which doesn't progress situations like this.

For example, as people talk about deer more and more, and we see them highlighted in the media, you start to notice them more, and leaves more of an impression. Their population may or may not be increasing, but attention to them most certainly does.

Pick a number between 10 and 50. Now watch for it. Suddenly you're seeing it *everywhere*. It's on road signs. You're seeing it whenever you look at the clock. It's appearing on household addresses and phone numbers. Is that number really 'more popular' and on the increase, or are you just paying more attention to it?

Normally we don't see ants much. However, if you stop and look at the ground outside, you'll suddenly spot one. Then more. Then realize the ground is crawling with them. Are there more ants, now that you're watching for them? Or were they always there?

This is a type of confirmation bias, and the Mayor is perpetuating his own bias, but no real facts.

Excerpt from CRD
Deer Management
Strategy map.
The increase in deer collisions very well could be for other reasons. We know for a fact that nearly all deer being hit are on Cadboro Bay Road across from the Uplands Golf Course. (Mayor Jensen insists deer collisions occur in other areas, and has promised a map, but this has yet to materialize.) Perhaps someone in the area has been feeding deer, drawing them to that area. Perhaps there are disturbances (like construction) in other areas, influencing their movements to this area of Oak Bay. Maybe people are speeding more, and using less care. There are a number of reasons beyond population increase that could influence collision rates.

Speaking of Cadboro Bay Road, we've been criticising Mayor and Council for not dealing with the speeding on this stretch, which is the #1 spot for collisions, according to the CRD. Thankfully, this has changed.

We have reports that a number of people have been pulled over and ticketed on this stretch. Speeders have been caught exceeding 70kph, and apparently even a motorcycle travelling at 90kph. Is it any wonder that accidents are occurring here? The 50kph speed limit is already much too generous for the conditions, and our own testing shows that people speed here regularly.

We purchased our own speed radar,
and found people speeding along this stretch.
They've also set up counters, which count the number of cars and their speed, so we can see that they're starting to take this section seriously (although we've been pointing this out since December, and is painfully obvious with the CRD map.)

Mayor Jensen insists that safety is his number one concern, so reducing collisions should be at the top of that list. This is easily accomplished given what we already know, by dealing with this stretch of Cadboro Bay Road. We've been demonstrating on this section, reminding drivers this section is active with deer, and to slow down, and it's good to see Oak Bay taking steps in this direction as well. An easy install would be a flashing speed sign for this stretch.

On another note of interest, the Oak Bay City Hall website has been updated, and they state "while deer have inhabited Oak Bay for centuries[..]" - which I've personally had Oak Bay resident hollering at me over, claiming that deer have only been here recently; only for the last 20 years. Despite biologists insisting that deer have been here millenium longer than humans, and that other Oak Bay residents insist on seeing deer for decades, these people continue to yell that deer are new and don't belong here. I hope they read this and reconsider their argument.

Mayor Jensen concludes the letter with "[t]he burgeoning population of deer in our community means there will be more deer on our roads, so please take particular care when driving."

He's right that we need to take care when driving, but the only burgeoning population in Oak Bay is the human population. Remember: it's much easier to manage our own behaviours, and if we're sincere about safety, we'll act accordingly.

For more on the Oak Bay and CRD deer issue (including links to the two new CRD brochures), visit the Greater Victoria Deer Advocates information page, and join our Facebook discussion group.

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)

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