August, 2013 – There are two species of deer on Mayne Island: native black tail deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and non- native fallow deer (Dama dama). These species look similar in many ways, they do not interbreed. The fallow deer originated from a farm on Mayne Island that operated in the 1980’s and 1990’s. A small number of fallow deer escaped from that farm in the early 1990’s. The farm is no longer active, and there are no captive deer remaining on Mayne Island.
Recently, fallow deer have spread to Galiano and Saturna Islands.
Since 1996, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has provided annual permits to up to six Mayne Island local hunters to hunt specifically fallow deer on private lands where they have received prior permission from the land owners.
Between 2003 and 2011 there have been 438 fallow deer bucks and 311 fallow deer does killed on Mayne Island. Rough estimates of the number of fallow deer left on the island range from 500 – 1000, a number that is thought to increase every year despite existing management. Without management actions to date, it is estimated there would be up to 4,000 fallow deer on Mayne Island today.
Black tail deer on Mayne Island are estimated to number 500-1000. Due to overpopulation the black tail deer on Mayne Island are suffering in health. In the absence of natural predators such as cougars, wolves, and bears the population of black tail deer has increased far beyond its natural size. UBC wildlife biologist Peter Arcese estimates that a historic normal black tail population on Mayne Island would be approximately 200 deer.
The combined pressure of fallow and black tail deer on native plants is causing a decrease in habitat for plants and animals. Many native plant species such as arbutus, red flowering currant, and oceanspray will no longer be found on Mayne Island if present cumulative pressure from deer continues over time.
Mayne Island is the only large Gulf Island that does not allow hunting. This ban on hunting has been in place since 1973. Other islands such as North/South Pender, Galiano, Saturna, and Salt Spring have a hunting season from September 10th to December 10th each year. In order to hunt in B.C. you need a hunting license. To apply for a hunting license in B.C. a person must complete a provincially regulated training course covering Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE). In order to possess or acquire a firearm in British Columbia a person must have a valid Possession and Acquisition License (PAL). In order to acquire this license a person must complete a training program regulated by the RCMP covering firearm safety and regulations.
Provincial regulation prohibits hunting and discharge of firearms within 100 metres of a church, school building, schoolyard, playground, regional district park or dwelling house, farm or ranch building that is occupied or unoccupied by persons or domestic animals. Also within 150 metres of any workshop, place of business, public highway or a place where persons may be assembled or engaged in work of any kind.
If the hunting ban was removed there would be nowhere on Mayne Island a person could hunt except large private properties with the prior written permission of the land owner, during hunting season.