For the last month, several flocks of Canada Geese have been flying over our home on their way to feeding in the farmer’s fields off Marsden Road. They are large birds that were born and bred in the Comox Valley. They live in the Valley all year and if you happen to enjoy roast wild goose or goose sausage they are a primary source of this locally grown meat.
The hunting season for these abundant birds opened on Sept. 1 and this opening closes Sept. 9 (this Sunday). There is a second opening on Oct. 6 to Nov. 18, followed by a third opening on Dec. 15 to Jan. 6, 2013, followed by still another opening Feb. 10 to March 10, 2013.
The daily bag limit for Canada Geese during these hunting season openings is 10 birds. You might get the idea that hunters are being encouraged to harvest generous limits of these large birds and you would be correct. The reasons are quite simple – geese numbers have expanded to the point where they are busy eating themselves out of house and home.
Resident geese numbers are multiplied several fold when migrating geese come in from northern regions to winter in the Valley. They are the snowbirds of their race and the east coast of Vancouver Island is their Palm Springs throughout the winter.
Ecosystems are complex affairs and aside from the crop damage geese can inflict on farmers they are also impacting our efforts to enhance salmon runs by destroying the vegetation base of our invaluable estuaries that serve as transition zones for out-migrating juvenile salmon. This column wholeheartedly supports the planned control of over-populations of Canada Geese by responsible hunting.
Venison has long been one of the favoured meats of humans. It comes primarily from wild deer populations as well as moose, elk and other large animals. On Vancouver Island and especially the Comox Valley the most abundant source is Island Black-tailed deer, a sub-species of mule deer. Our local deer come in small packages with an average dressed weight of 70 pounds for mature bucks and somewhat less for does. The meat is excellent in taste and quality.
For those readers unfamiliar with the hunting regulations, the province is broken into eight major regions that are further broken into smaller units for effective local management. Vancouver Island is Resource Management Unit #1 and it is further divided into 15 smaller units with Units 14 and 15 being Mainland Coastal inlets accessible from Vancouver Island.
The Comox Valley is in the middle of local management unit 1-6 which is bordered by Campbell River on the north, Qualicum River on the south and the height of land on the Beaufort Range to the west. Denman and Hornby islands are included. In the new regulation printed in green on page 28 of the 2012-2014 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis it states the following regional bag limits: “Deer: The bag limit for mule (black-tailed) deer is three, of which only two may be antlerless and only two may be bucks.”
On the charts showing open seasons they list the regular season for bucks in Region 6 runs from Sept. 10 to Dec. 10 with a bag limit of two. Under antlerless season they open Sept. 10 to Dec. 10 and they list a bag limit of one with the exception of the season opening on Denman and Hornby islands which opens on Oct. 5 to Dec. 10. (Note: To hunt on Denman and Hornby islands you also need a special Gulf Islands license; cost $2).
I find it a bit confusing because on page 28 they clearly state the antlerless limit is two deer while on the table it shows one. One thing that becomes clear with the generous bag limits and seasons – the provincial government is making a conscious effort to manage growing numbers of urban deer with increased season bag limits. It makes good sense to me and falls clearly into the trend of local grown food harvested on a local basis by local people.
In Area 1-6 we have on page 32 – Map 22 which clearly illustrates the Bow and Firearms Using Shot Only areas in the developed rural areas. This restriction offer little relief for densely over-populated urban deer herds except in border zones.
Continued next week.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.