This December, phase one of the invasive fallow deer eradication is taking place on (SḰŦÁMEN) Sidney Island.
The operation is going to be carried out by highly trained marksmen on behalf of Parks Canada and has been in the works since 2018.
The deer species are not native to the location and are considered invasive as well as dangerous to the ecosystem because they were brought to Sidney Island by European settlers for farming and sport hunting.
Their population grew more rapidly than settlers could control through the last century which resulted in ecological issues, according to Parks Canada.
For one, the fallow deer live in large groups and have now fed on the majority of the island’s native forests’ understories.
This understory is crucial for local First Nations in terms of harvesting important foods and medicines.
In the absence of these native species, other invasive species such as English hawthorn, Scotch broom and non-native grasses have become more abundant taking up space where native species would normally thrive.
There are also native black tail deer living on Sidney Island, which Parks Canada say the marksmen will also kill during the invasive deer’s eradication.
According to Parks Canada, following the operation, there will be hope for the black tail deer to return to the island because they have a long history of swimming between islands in the area.
Following phase one’s completion, next year marksmen will return to the island and wipe out any remaining deer they missed during this first sweep, then once all the deer have been killed, restoration work can begin in the island’s ecosystems restoring native species to the island.
Parks Canada says all the meat from the deer will be given to the local First Nations for harvesting.