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

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

4 Comments to: RBG Deer Cull has few opponents

  1. Paul

    December 11th, 2013

    How does the author know how much opposition there is to this cull? Hunters and RBG staff? Hardly a proper sample. I would say though that the majority remain ignorant of the situation as few pay real attention and numbly assume organizations like the RBG know what they are doing. Obviously this is wrong.

    One attempt at counting deer is hardly enough to get a snapshot of the situation let alone base a conclusion. Further culling deer still leave the non-native lilacs unprotected from any remaining deer.

    And what does lilac symbolism have to do with killing deer, a native species that has a right to exist on these lands?

    And again predation does not dictate the population of deer, food and habitat does. As we keep creating edge habitat deer like and in the RBG plant vegetation they like of course you are going to have deer. And killing can even have the opposite effect where the remaining deer will actually have more young given the added habitat and food left by the dead. Fence off sensitive plants and surround with vegetation that deer do not like makes a whole lot more sense than killing deer.

    But it is the cheaper way to blame deer and get others to kill them for you so from a budget stand point I am sure the RBG managers are pleased. At least until they realize their prize plants still get eaten.

    Gardeners have no place dictating wildlife management. We should by trying the most scientific and least deadly measures to find a balance.

    So far no one seems to be willing to try this yet everybody pretends that is what they are doing. But one brief count and then trying to kill 2/3 of the native deer in the area is neither scientific nor harmless and supporters should be ashamed of such callous political solutions to life and death situations.

    People blame Bambi for people wanting to protect deer but in reality it is the cull supporters who are viewing this situation in an unrealistic light. Unfortunately it will cost lives every year to maintain this farce while people blindly cling to their illusion that controlling deer populations by killing actually does anything but cause further problems.

    • Lorne Morley

      December 30th, 2013

      Did anybody question the fact that lilacs are a non native plant and could even be considered invasive. So the RBG wants to kill native species to preserve invasive plants.

  2. Learn how to write

    December 19th, 2013

    What’s “a native deer hunt”?

  3. Coleen Tew

    December 30th, 2013

    Really? Few opponents? Tell that to the protesters who were there twice a day for the five days of the hunt! The only reason The RBG was unopposed is that few people knew about it. We will be much more organized next year if this happens again. Count on it.


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