Besides having a very pleasant fragrance, lilacs have been used as symbols of peace all over the world. Czechoslovaks used them to welcome Allied Forces liberating them from Nazi rule at the end of the Second World War. There are many species, none of which originated in North America, Nevertheless, The Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington claims to have the largest collection of lilacs in the world. The Lilac Festival, held there every May, is one of the institution’s main attractions for tourists. That’s why it’s a high priority to protect the trees, which are being ravaged by an overpopulation of deer on the property, mainly in the Arboretum.
The RBG is considering allowing a native deer hunt with bows and arrows. It would be limited to members of Haudenosaunee, a confederacy made up of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca aboriginal nations, who are expert hunters. However Andreas Kyprianou, senior manager of marketing and communications for the RBG, said there won’t be another board meeting until near the end of November. “We’re not at any stage of a decision at this point,” he said. “We’re just researching options.” Kyprianou said there have been several suggestions made, including using dogs to scare the deer off, erecting a fence and placing feces of other animals in the area to ward them off. In February, a group of 15 volunteers from the RBG and staff counted 162 deer in the area of Cootes Paradise. Included were 55 does, 51 fawns/yearlings, seven bucks, and 54 of unknown gender and age. Four years ago, in another survey, 269 deer were identified in a wider area of RBG lands.
Dundas Valley will hold its third deer hunt this year on Hamilton Conservation Authority land, with only archery permitted. An aerial survey in February counted 266 deer in the Dundas Valley, about double the number the Ministry of Natural Resources considers acceptable. Matt DeMille, assistant manager of fish and wildlife services for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), said the federation would prefer to see a hunt that’s open to everyone. “You can maximize the ecological benefits of managing the deer population,” he said. “In a lot of areas in southern Ontario deer have become overabundant. It’s important to have pro-active management. We’d like to see a hunt on an ongoing basis to make sure deer don’t get to that level again. DeMille said he’s not overly concerned that the RBG lands are a favorite place for a lot of hikers and nature lovers. “Hunting has been shown to be one of the safest recreational activities in the province,” he said. “If there is a high level of public activity, just use bows and arrows. And there should not be any difference in safety in a hunt by non-aboriginals.” Meanwhile, the annual deer hunt in the Region of Halton, in which shotguns were allowed, took place from Nov. 4-9.
The archery season runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Norm Miller, communications advisor at Conservation Halton, said the population of deer in the region is high, mainly because of a lack of natural predators and the practice of humans in residential areas leaving food out for them The Ministry of Natural Resources advises hunters to wear bright visible coloured clothing when visiting regional forests during hunting season. In addition, during the mating and migration seasons from October to January, drivers are advised to be on the lookout for deer on country roads, especially at dawn and dusk. It is estimated that, on average, an automobile and deer collide every 38 minutes in Ontario.
By: Dennis Gibbons