Deer Wars: The Forest Awakens
January 24, 2019 5:24 AM   Subscribe

On Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, culling deer is an act of cultural and ecological restoration.

Following a successful multi-year program of eradicating invasive rats from six islands, the additional removal of deer under Restoring Balance aims to create an invasive-mammal-free zone in Juan Perez Sound, at the heart of the park. To this end, deer are being removed from the Bischofs, a group of five islands and a few islets, as well as Faraday, Murchison, House, Hotspring, and Ramsay Islands. Round one—the 2017 population knockdown—bagged almost 600 deer; over 400 from Ramsay alone.

posted by poffin boffin (8 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Need moar Wolves
posted by sammyo at 7:13 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

I hope they are able to get the resources to continue the work through to competition since even a few stragglers would mean the population would bounce back.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:19 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Deer are the worst. I really hope this project succeeds.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:20 AM on January 24

Thank you for this post. I was interested in learning more about the 1985 logging blockade, and found this article from The Tyee, on the 25th anniversary of the blockade.
posted by ITheCosmos at 8:25 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Thanks for sharing this! My work sometimes touches on invasive species management, but it is always a bit of a hopeless task--it is always "management" never "eradication" because we know they'll be back. I am jealous of people who get to work on islands, and thus have some chance of more permanent removal.

I met a Canadian hunter last year who had taken a dozen or so deer at Haida Gwaii during the cull--apparently it was open to recreational hunters, not just professionals. That was the first I heard about this project, and I understood it to be ecological restoration, but I had no idea from that conversation that it was led by first nations people for restoration of cultural and ethnobotanical resources. That adds a crucial dimension I was missing.

I am getting the feeling from a handful of stories and conversations over the past few years that some white ecologists in western North America are just now finally beginning to understand that it is not possible to restore habitats here to semblances of their pre-colonial selves without consulting and involving the people who were living on and managing the lands at the time. Like, we've known for years that these were managed landscapes, but it is just now occurring to us that we can't "put them back" to the way they were without the involvement of the managers.
posted by agentofselection at 10:45 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

Also, re: wolves: the problem here is not that predators were removed, allowing herbivores to go crazy. The problem is that there were never deer on the islands to begin with. Adding wolves now feels like the invasive species control plan from the Simpson's that ends with "when wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death!"
posted by agentofselection at 10:48 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

I've linked to this before, but it is a good fit here: B.C. First Nations are also proposing culling of sea lions.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:41 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

This happens to be one of my pet ecological peeves. We've allowed the North American deer population to expand far beyond what is reasonable and what the land can tolerate, and why? Deer hunters, that's why. They want high odds of being able to bag a deer, and that means letting the deer numbers go way, way up. Rural towns lobby the states' natural resources departments for the same reason, since deer hunters bring a lot of money into those towns every year. End result: depredation of the forest understructure and a growing incidence of car/deer strikes.

But hey. Gotta shoot me a deer, my man. Otherwise there'd be no justification for those party weekends in the woods.
posted by Lunaloon at 2:09 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]

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