presence of white-tailed deer within our City limits has been receiving
greater attention over the past decade from concerned citizens. The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority
and the City of London. Some of the concerns that have been raised by the
public include: the increasing number of deer-vehicle collisions, damage to residential
landscape plantings and property, and perceived overabundant population in the Sifton Bog Environmentally Significant Area.
This issue is not confined to the Sifton Bog or
the City of London issue. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has been dealing with rising deer populations on provincial lands for several years,
farmers have noted increased crop destruction and many of the northeastern
American states are grappling with the issue of lethal vs. non-lethal management options.
To address the deer
population at the Sifton Bog a Steering Committee was formed in 2001 with representatives from the
local community, the City, the MNR and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA).
This committee investigated the management options available to reduce the
perceived overabundant population of deer. In addition, the City and the UTRCA have
consulted other municipalities, experts in wildlife management, and the city's own Risk Management and Transportation Departments to determine the best way to deal with urban deer.
The management of white-tailed deer is provincially regulated by the MNR,
mainly through annual hunts on private land and more recently through
controlled hunts within provincial parks with high deer density (Pinery,
Rondeau). All management options within the city require review and approval by the MNR.
The City has contracted wildlife biologists to prepare a "White-Tailed Deer Management Strategy"
for the Sifton Bog and the whole city to examine the effects of the deer population
and recommend an ecologically sound and politically and socially acceptable
plan for implementation. The City is also working with York University
to study the effect of deer browse on vegetation in three ESA's.
studies will increase our baseline knowledge of population fluctuations,
vegetation response and movement patterns. The strategy will include the steps that have been taken or are currently underway to address the
following objectives set out by Council to deal with the rising deer populations throughout the City.
- Develop a communications and education program for neighbours of our natural areas and for the general public to identify the problems with rising deer numbers and provide information about how residents can deal with deer issues such as impacts on their private yards.
- Expand yearly deer counts to include Westminster Ponds and Kilally Meadows ESA's in order to develop a better City-wide assessment of the situation. Expand our vegetation monitoring program into other ESA's.
- The UTRCA has approached Conservation Ontario to lead a province wide workshop on urban deer management, so that we may all benefit from the latest information and techniques.
- Implement non-lethal deer management strategies as recommended by the MNR and/or Conservation Ontario as a result of these broader discussions.
- Request that Animal Control, the London Police and our wildlife contractor coordinate the reporting of all deer incidents.
- Proceed with an update to the Sifton Bog Conservation Master Plan and examine the deer issue in the context of all related issues at the Bog - invasive plant species management, fencing, continued water monitoring, pathway/trail development, expanded nature interpretation opportunities, linkages to adjacent natural features, etc.
- Work with the MNR, the UTRCA and other urban centres within this watershed to develop a provincial/regional plan for urban wildlife management.