B.C. has several species of deer, both native and exotic, living throughout the province. Black-tailed deer live mostly along the coast, while Mule deer and White-tailed deer live inland. Exotic species like Fallow deer and Sitka deer were introduced decades ago to some small islands for the purpose of hunting or deer farming, although deer farming is no longer practiced in the province.
Urban deer have become a controversial issue in many communities. Many municipalities have been tasked with local wildlife management, although wildlife is generally managed by the provincial government. Problems with deer are often related to eating gardens, interactions with pets and vehicle collisions. Deer are often perceived as being overabundant, but there are important questions to consider before determining whether or not this is true.
Questions to ask about deer in your community:
- Is there an actual or perceived overabundance of deer?
- Is deer habitat shrinking due to development?
- Are interactions with deer increasing because of human activities?
- Can we accurately count urban deer?
- What is appropriate and humane deer management?
BC SPCA stance on urban deer management
The BC SPCA supports non-lethal measures to address human-deer conflicts. This includes non-contact hazing, anti-feeding bylaws and enforcement, road signage and speed enforcement, landscaping changes and humane deterrents like motion-activated sprinklers. Using contraception or translocating deer are novel alternatives and would benefit from more research in the province.
Deer culls in B.C.
Years of deer culls in Cranbrook, Invermere, Kimberley, Elkford and Oak Bay, have not solved their deer problems. The BC SPCA has advocated for a new provincial strategy of management based on sound scientific evidence, including population counts and more research on alternatives and co-existence strategies.
An amazing example of alternative deer management resulted from the Oak Bay cull, as strong opposition led to the creation of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society. Residents and citizen scientists teamed up with academic researchers in Greater Victoria to administer and research deer birth control in Oak Bay. The project has been so successful it has now expanded to Esquimalt.
Can you stop a deer cull?
If a legally permitted cull is happening in your community, the BC SPCA can’t stop the cull unless the methods are inhumane under the law. If you witness a deer in distress during a cull, call our Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722. Document evidence by taking videos or photographs, but do not trespass on private property. Reach out to your local elected officials to discuss your concerns about a cull in your area.
Why is culling urban deer ineffective?
Many culls do not target the right deer species, gender, age or specific individuals that are causing problems. Culling individual animals from unknown populations indiscriminately is not an effective, permanent or sustainable solution. Also, if deer populations move between home ranges, a cull may just open more habitat for other deer to move in. This can cost tax payers hundreds or thousands of dollars per deer killed and cause a lot of conflict between local residents.
The BC SPCA has consistently opposed urban deer culls in communities without measured overpopulation, no representative consultation with residents and no attempt to reduce conflict by non-lethal means. Such urban deer culls do not meet international criteria for ethical wildlife control established by expert consensus.
What is the difference between a cull and an eradication?
A cull is a temporary population reduction, whereas an eradication is a complete population removal. Learn more about the BC SPCA’s stance on the Sidney Island Ecological Restoration Project and the planned eradication of introduced European fallow deer.