Community Meeting: Sunday, May 21 at 1:00 pm at the Ag. Hall grounds

If you’ve lived on Mayne Island for any length of time, you know we have a deer problem. In addition to the overabundant native blacktail deer, we have an invasive fallow deer problem that dates from the early 1990s. And you also know that these deer are chewing their way through the plant communities on the island, disrupting entire ecosystems in the process. It’s rare these days to see any young trees other than Douglas fir or Grand fir. Try finding a young arbutus or Garry oak, species that are iconic to the Gulf Islands. The understories of our forests that were once abundant with plants such snowberry, huckleberry, and fawn lilies, are now decimated.

Deer browsing contrasted with plants protected by fencing – photo by Rob Underhill.

The Conservancy has been monitoring the problem for some time and is becoming increasing alarmed about the impact on island habitats. That is why our new vision from now until 2033 (our 30th anniversary) states in part that we will play a leadership role in mitigating the fallow deer problem.

The Mayne Island Invasive Fallow Deer Committee

Over the coming years you will hear more from us about what we plan to do, but the Conservancy is already participating in a larger island-wide effort to address the problem as part of the Mayne Island Invasive Fallow Deer Committee. This group has representatives from the Conservancy, Mayne Islands Local Trust Committee, Mayne Island Parks and Recreation, and individuals who have been working on this issue for years.

The current focus of the committee is to put pressure on the provincial government to get involved and take some responsibility. It was the province who granted the original license to operate a deer farm, and then did not deal with the problem of animals who escaped. If they had acted in the early 1990s when the number of fallow deer was very small, we would not be in the situation we now find ourselves. Under their own regulations, the province has responsibility for fallow deer once they became established outside of the farm.

Since that time the province has done less and less about the problem. Recently, the few local hunters who had been taking the lead on helping to control the problem had their special permits authorizing the use of rifles to hunt the fallow deer revoked. We now have the situation where the population is growing rapidly and the most effective means we have had for dealing with the issue has been stopped.

If you’re concerned about the deer problem, we want you to become involved.

There are lots of actions you can take, but at the very least you should come to the public meeting that the Mayne Island Invasive Fallow Deer Committee is holding on May 21 at 1:00 pm at the Mayne Island Agricultural Hall grounds. We expect to have some local political leaders in attendance, and it will be a chance for you to share your concerns and hear from other islanders on this issue.

If you’re on Facebook, there is a Mayne Island Fallow Deer group that you could join, and they have a deer tracking form that you can use and submit to help track the deer on Mayne.

For more information about the Conservancy’s work on the invasive fallow deer problem, click here.


Gin Nielsen · May 10, 2023 at 3:55 pm

Thank goodness The Conservancy is going to take the lead on this environmental disaster!
I find it absolutely devastating that our flora and fauna are being decimated!
People are feeding the fallow deer like pets, and they are thriving in numbers no one could have imagined!

Thanks a million for your incredible service.

Lasha Seniuk · May 15, 2024 at 12:17 pm

Hello. I just had an idea…don’t know if it would help. Would it be possible to contact some of the local Native Tribal Offices in the area and ask them if they would like to come bow hunting for deer at certain times during the spring or summer months? I am sure they would love to participate and the deer meat would go to a very good cause. Also, I suspect some local tribes may very much like to have their young hunters perfect their bow hunting skills. It would make for excellent community relations too….perhaps some hunting season potlatches, I would suspect. Just a thought.

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