Approved by: Mayne Island Conservancy Society  Board of Directors                                         

Date: October 10, 2021

Resolution #: 21-03

1.     Context

The Mayne Island Conservancy mission is to:

Work with the community to conserve the ecology of Mayne Island and its surrounding waters for future generations.

The Mayne Island Conservancy has created robust programs to contribute to the goals of the Coastal Douglas Fir and Associate Ecosystems Conservation Strategy (CDFAE) and to implement its mission but recognizes that to do so in some cases it must incur additional costs and resources to protect restored areas from excessive deer browse.  The Conservancy further recognises that there have been community efforts to raise the issue with the regional and provincial governments and these efforts have led to the implementation of special shooting permits and more recently, hunting regulations. However, from the perspective of protecting and sustaining an endangered ecological forest community and designing and applying recovery measures in support of the CDFAE goals, we are not seeing the kinds of improvements in the timeframe needed to attain and sustain the full range of CDF and associated ecosystems found on Mayne Island.  It is the opinion of the Mayne Island Conservancy Board that it is a fiduciary and a stewardship responsibility of the Provincial Government to both protect provincially designated ecosystems at risk and to apply rigorous methods to reduce human-caused threats to those ecosystems. It is also felt that this responsibility extends to funding and implementing sustained solutions to deer overpopulations.  With respect to the impacts of Fallow Deer, these could have been avoided if the Province of BC had taken timely and appropriate action at the time of introduction, and they must now take urgent action to solve what has become a vastly more complex (i.e. sightings of Fallow Deer on adjacent islands) and divisive problem. With this perspective in mind, the Conservancy Board adopts the following.

2.     Policy

The Mayne Island Conservancy has an important role to play by providing evidence-based information on the environmental impacts associated with deer overpopulation (both Black-tailed and the introduced exotic Fallow Deer) on Mayne Island.

The Mayne Island Conservancy has a key and continuing role to play in the protection of terrestrial ecosystems through implementing mitigation measures to exclude deer access to prime forest ecosystems and/or ecosystem restoration sites.

The Mayne Island Conservancy will advocate for the Province of BC to take responsibility for a sustained solution to overabundant and invasive deer impacts, honour the goals of the CDF conservation strategy and to stop the abdication of its responsibility for this issue to the community of Mayne Island.

The Mayne Island Conservancy, given appropriate funding, may lead or participate in initiatives to better understand the environmental impacts of hyperabundant deer browse such as vegetation surveys, deer population estimates, or impacts on other species.

3.     Background

The Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem is ranked as at risk both globally and provincially and as such is a high priority for preservation. Within this ecosystem there are many endangered plant communities. Of the global range of Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems, 80% occur in the southern Strait of Georgia area. Of the 256,800 hectares in British Columbia, only 9%, or 23,500 hectares, is provincially owned. 

The Coastal Douglas Fir and Associated Ecosystems (CDFAE) conservation strategy has three core goals:

  1. CDFAE values (including species and ecosystems at risk) are incorporated into local and regional policy and planning processes and integrated into nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  2. Additional protection and stewardship of CDFAE is secured.
  3. CDFCP* capacity to deliver the above goals is enhanced and sustained.

*Coastal Douglas Fir Conservation Partnership is a broadly represented organization of industry, government, land trusts, conservation groups and academic institutions collaborating on the long-term sustainability of the Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystems.

The federal government has acknowledged the importance of Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem by identifying the South West of BC as a Priority Place under the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk.

At the Mayne Island level, urgent action is required to solve the problem of overabundant deer that is impacting directly and compounding the effects of other stressors at many levels by:

  •  increasing impact on many sensitive habitats, plant species, and successional processes in our parks, protected areas and unfenced forest lands;
  •  threatening the viability of the rare and endangered Coastal Douglas-fir and associated ecosystems on Mayne Island;
  • adding to ecosystem stress that is also accelerating due to impacts of the climate emergency
  • retarding the achievement of local and regional food security due to the higher costs of crop protection;
  • increasing the amount of time, effort, and costs incurred by the Conservancy to protect and restore Mayne Island terrestrial environments and thus limits the impact of available resources for habitat restoration;
  • excluding large predators resulting in native Blacktail Deer overpopulation which is causing dramatic degradation to native plant communities, ecological processes, forest succession, and impacting all trophic levels through loss of structural habitat and food resources; and,
  • Increasing population growth of the exotic Fallow Deer population since its introduction in the 1990’s has compounded the environmental impacts of Blacktail Deer overpopulation by adding additional, and more intensive browse pressure.