The issue of urban wildlife management, as in the case of urban deer in Oak Bay, is an extremely divisive issue. Some residents are quite vocal in their desire to have all deer eradicated from within the municipalities that were built within the deer’s native habitat.

Yet other residents enjoy their interactions with wildlife and find the suggestions of eradication to be ridiculous.

The vast majority of residents likely fall in the middle—those that are not willing to speak up because they don’t feel strongly either way.

Some residents call for deer eradication (red heart), some want them saved (green heart). The vast majority fall somewhere in the middle.

In 2016 Oak Bay administered a General Satisfaction Survey that included a question on deer. Of the 400 respondents, there was an approximately 50/50 split on culling deer, and of those that supported a cull, their response was based on the information that “a humane cull” was the only option available. Given that the method of culling deer involves trapping, bolt gunning and slitting the throat of deer, it is reasonable to think that of those that do support a lethal cull, would prefer a non-lethal method.

Also, keep in mind that based on the 2016 census there are 18,094 residents in Oak Bay. Those 400 survey respondents account for only 2.2% of the population of Oak Bay. So then we know that ~1% of the people love the deer, and ~1% hates the deer. The VAST majority didn’t respond because they didn’t feel strongly —that means the deer are not an issue for them. They either tolerate the deer or aren’t upset by them—but that means that these residents don’t feel any action needs to be taken to deal with the deer. 

When you consider that 1) this middle-ground majority of residents either enjoy the urban wildlife as it currently is or 2) those residents vocal about conserving wildlife—even within municipal limits—that means that the MAJORITY of residents within Oak Bay would not like to see the deer eradicated from the landscape. 

It is precisely because this majority of residents in greater Victoria prefer to coexist with urban wildlife that we are working with the municipalities of Oak Bay and Esquimalt to find humane, non-lethal and non-eradication methods of urban wildlife management. Indeed, these methods will help to inform effective wildlife management throughout all the municipalities of Greater Victoria and across Vancouver Island.

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