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Controversial deer cull underway on small B.C. gulf island

Click to play video: 'Deer cull happening on Sidney Island'
Deer cull happening on Sidney Island
A controversial plan to cull deer on a Southern Gulf Island has begun with hunters shooting deer from helicopters on Sidney Island. Paul Johnson has exclusive details of the operation – Dec 9, 2023

A controversial deer cull program is now underway after months of discussion on a small gulf island off the coast of Victoria.

The cull has been a hot topic of discussion on Sidney Island, where an estimated 300 to 900 invasive fallow deer have been decimating the ecosystem, according to Parks Canada.

Island residents told Global News they witnessed the aerial gunning component of the deer eradication program on Wednesday. Between Wednesday and Friday, residents said they could hear gunshots intermixed with the sounds of a helicopter.

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Local trails were also marked with signs warning of the gunfire.

Parks Canada told Global News the cull is necessary because the deer are eating much of the island’s native plants. A small portion of the island is a national park, where efforts are being made to restore vegetation.

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Parks Canada confirmed the cull began on Tuesday. It does not have a number of killed deer at this time.

The contract for the program, which cost $5.9 million, was awarded to Salmon Arm-based Coastal Conservation and was reported back in September.

Previously, Global News spoke with some residents regarding the controversy.

Resident Wendy Ord opposed the cull, saying the process seems “very inhumane.”

“It’s very difficult to determine you have a clean kill. Whereas if you have a hunter on the ground with a gun stalking the animal, they won’t shoot until they get a clean kill,” she said.

More than 18,000 people signed a petition calling for the deer cull to be halted a few months ago.

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