Believe it or not, British Columbia deer have now become the main target for marksman training!
The CBC NEWS recently reported that the British Columbia deer population on the islands on Haida Gwaii is literally in the crosshairs. Authorities have now planned to harvest every last deer on the chain of half a dozen islands.
The invasive species of blacktailed Sitka deer are said to have been slowly destroying the archipelago since they were ferried there by the B.C. Game Commission back in 1880.
This eradication plan may sound harsh; however, these deer will fill in as meat for school lunches, line up for marksmanship training for local youth, and even help solidify plans to fix the damaged landscape.
“We use as much of the deer as we can,” said Laina Holland, a Haida woman who hunts. “We use the hides for drums, the hooves for Haida regalia. We eat the meat.That’s what we eat every year: fish in the summer, deer meat in the winter.”
Since the deer on these islands have no natural predators their high population has begun to take a toll on the native plant life that the locals use for food.
“They’ll eat almost anything,” said Wilson, the Haida elder. “They eat all the plants we would ordinarily use as our own food. If you see we don’t have much of anything, it’s because we have lots of deer.”
Authorities are doing everything they can to benefit in every way possible during this process.
“We are giving them the most humane death we can by having professional marksmen come in and train our young Haida and young islanders [to assist],” said Robyn Irvine, a conservation and restoration manager with Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.
Once the deer populations are gone, locals will again be able to farm and grow the plants they need to survive without having to suffer losses due to the invasive deer’s foraging appetite.
Students in local high schools will be learning how to process and cook venison as the deer are harvested.
“We make it into deer jerky,” said Brayden Bell, a Grade 11 student. “It’s better to know how to cook before you get too old.”