Sidney Island deer cull costs spiralling, according to Taxpayers Federation

File photo.

It looks picturesque, but Parks Canada wants to kill each and every one of the European Fallow deer on Sidney Island.

And the program is costing a lot — $10,000 per deer killed during phase one, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s B.C. director Carson Binda.

“Parks Canada has earmarked 12 million dollars for a controversial project to eliminate an invasive deer species from the very small Sidney Island just off the coast of Victoria,” he said.

Parks Canada’s deer cull, in partnership with local First Nations, aims to restore native vegetation, trees, and shrubs.

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According to documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, in phase one of the cull last fall, it spent more than $800,000, including $67,000 on a helicopter to circle the island with snipers from the United States and New Zealand.

Work permits for those snipers cost $35,000, and $137,000 for firearm certification.

“That lead to a hit for taxpayers of $10,000 per deer killed in phase one of the program,” Binda said at a press conference Wednesday. “The expert marksmen from the United States and New Zealand only managed to kill 84 deer, 18 of which were the wrong species of deer.”

As an introduced species, the environment on the island has suffered over the years as the deer eat their way through the underbrush.

READ PREVIOUS: Concerns remain over methods used in Sidney Island deer eradication

However, some, including Dr. David Bird, disagree with killing them from the air.

“You are going to have to pretty much spray shoot with a semi-automatic rifle and hope that you hit one of the deer,” said Bird, emeritus professor of Wildlife Biology and director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre at McGill University.

“And that’s one of the reasons why it’s ineffective,” he said. “And it’s inhumane.”

According to the FOI documents obtained by the Taxpayers Federation, Parks Canada’s Fur to Forest project has a total cost of $12 million.

“It’s unacceptable for them to blow 12 million dollars flying in foreign snipers to role-play as Rambo on the Canadian taxpayer’s dime,” Binda said.

Jesse Zeman, executive director at the BC Wildlife Federation, says local hunters have worked to reduce the deer numbers on the island from thousands to just a few hundred over the years, all for free.

“To get out in helicopters right out of the gate like this and only have harvested 84 deer, at $10,000 a deer, it’s not surprising, I guess,” he said. “It’s just disappointing.”

Local First Nations harvested around 80 deer from phase one of the project, and the meat was distributed throughout the South Island.

Parks Canada did not respond to CHEK News’ requests for comment by deadline.

Mary Griffin

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