Monday, December 17, 2007

Wolves? Oh Deer!

The problem in Prince Rupert is that is that we've let the deer take over here. They're feeding off our gardens but because we don't hunt them there is a predator vacuum and that's what's drawn in the wolves.

We don't have a wolf problem on Kaien Island, we have a deer problem. There has to be a balance in nature between predator and prey, otherwise things get out of kilter. Without predators the population of deer rises until it becomes unsustainable, stripping the forest of undergrowth and leading to a population crash from starvation and disease.

I'm not a hunter, but I've been thinking about this problem for years. I'm a gardener of sorts and I've had deer eat my young raspberries and blackberry plants, strip the leaves off my four year old pear tree, and strip the bark off one of my apple trees.

For years I've had revenge fantasies. For instance: What if we sent all the women and children off the Island and all the menfolk make a sweep from one end of town to the other to flush all those varmints out and shoot them? I like the idea but I hazard a guess that it would not be a very popular idea. Besides, there's municipal rules about discharging firearms in Prince Rupert.

Still, the thought of so many gardens being eaten up by the deer and so many deep freezers begging for venison gets to me. Besides, if we don't allow any hunting on Kaien Island, the wolves get the wrong idea. These wolves need to know who's the top predator around here, otherwise they get too cocky and start hanging around where they don't belong.

I've heard of one person, there may be more, who catches his deer in his yard at night, using a flashlight and a hammer. This is illegal by the way - it's not real hunting. But in my opinion, more power to this guy.

In BC hunting any closer than 100 metres from an occupied residence or building is illegal, but that still leaves the greater part of this Island. The municipal bylaw makes it illegal to discharge a weapon but as Jeff Beckwith pointed out in a recent letter to the editor, that could be amended to exclude the discharging of a bow.

Why not allow bow-hunting in areas outside of town? Bow hunting is safer for bystanders than firearms because it is only effective within 30 metres of a deer. A hunter with a shotgun can kill a deer from a kilometre away so the potential for a hunter to not recognize human bystanders is greater. Plus bow-hunting is more difficult than hunting with a shotgun because you have to get a lot closer to the deer, so the deer have a better chance too.

We've got a local source of meat. Why can't we make use of it in a safe way instead of letting the wolves take over.

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