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Protesters call for stop to planned deer cull on Southern Gulf Island

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Protesters gathered in Sidney Friday, asking Parks Canada to put a stop to a planned deer cull on a Southern Gulf Island.

They showed up at Beacon Park to oppose the plan to eradicate an invasive, European deer species from Sidney Island.

“We are asking Parks Canada to halt, to postpone this program to do a new study on the vegetation recovery and also on the count of the deer,” said protest organizer Sharon Glynn.

Parks Canada is leading the Sidney Island Ecological Restoration project in partnership with W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Tsawout First Nation, Pauquachin First Nation, Island Trust Conservancy and members of the local Sidney Island community.

The initiative is to restore the area’s endangered Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem – and the group claims the cull is necessary to rejuvenate the area.

But the protesters disagree. In part, they argue efforts to control the population are working and believe the cull is inhumane.

“Just the whole horror,” said Glynn. “It’s extremely stressful on animals. And also, by the way, there’s a number of species at risk on the island.”

Parks Canada has said the decision to use sharpshooters to cull the animals was done in consultation with BC SPCA recommendations. The first stage of the removal for fallow deer is estimated to run November 25 to December 15, 2023. The agency will be confirming the dates in the next two weeks.

“I voted against the eradication of our deer,” said part-time Sidney Island resident Paul Lalonde. “On the private section of the island, I think it’s egregious that we’re spending taxpayer dollars for a bunch of private land-owners.”

Parks Canada says the broader strategy, following the removal of the fallow deer, is to restore Indigenous vegetation, remove invasive plant species and manage the native black-tailed deer population.  

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