British Columbia

Farmed deer could be future of cull: Victoria councillor Chris Coleman

As a controversial deer cull in Oak Bay has wrapped up, a Victoria city councillor has another solution to manage urban deer — domesticating and farming them to create a new cash crop for Vancouver Island.

Chris Coleman says farming deer successfully took care of urban deer problems in New Zealand

Chris Coleman, a Victoria city councillor, said urban deer problems could be solved by domesticating and farming the animals. (CBC)

As a controversial deer cull in Oak Bay has wrapped up, a Victoria city councillor has another solution to manage urban deer — domesticating and farming them to create a new cash crop for Vancouver Island.

"I got called the other day from a lady on Trutch Street who had seven deer in her heritage garden. Don't tell me she wasn't interested in this," Chris Coleman told On The Island's Gregor Craigie.

The idea comes from one of Victoria's sister cities, Napier, New Zealand, which experienced a boom in urban deer fifty years ago.

"They captured the deer and put them in a paddock or a field and surprise, surprise, they bred. They realized there was an opportunity," he said, saying New Zealand now exports hundreds of millions of dollars worth of venison each year.

Coleman said in the lead-up to the November municipal election, he surveyed people by phone asking constituents how they felt about a cull.

He said 70 per cent of the people he called were in favour, with 23 per cent opposed.

"Some passionately in favour. There was a bloodthirsty aspect to some of that," he said.

He acknowledged many of the people who were opposed are also passionate about their viewpoint — something displayed in protests to the recent cull in Oak Bay.

He said some of those people will oppose his idea, but thinks he can win a few over.

"I think there's another section who were perhaps against Oak Bay's cull because it wasn't humane in their minds, so is farming a more humane version of that? Arguably those of us who eat beef think it's an acceptable process," he said.

To hear the full interview with Chris Coleman, click the audio labelled: Victoria councillor's idea to farm deer.

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