Parks Canada earmarked $12 million to eradicate invasive deer population in B.C.

As part of the $12-million Fur to Forest program, Parks Canada employed foreign sharpshooters and expensive hunting techniques on Sidney Island. Eighteen native black-tailed deer were mistakenly killed.

Parks Canada earmarked $12 million to eradicate invasive deer population in B.C.
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Parks Canada paid foreign hunters nearly $1 million to cull an invasive species of deer, but other expenses show total costs are much more.

The federal agency earmarked $12 million to restore native vegetation and eradicate European fallow deer on a tiny B.C. Island, according to access-to-information records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

"It’s hard to imagine how Parks Canada could spend millions shooting deer," said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. "Here’s the kicker: hunters who actually live on the island are bagging these deer for free."

As part of the $12-million Fur to Forest program, Parks Canada employed expensive hunting techniques on Sidney Island during phase one of the operation.

American and New Zealand sharpshooters killed 84 deer with restricted semi-automatic rifles last December, including 18 native black-tailed deer. Doing so cost taxpayers $834,000, including $67,000 spent renting a helicopter.

Taxpayer-funded contractors used CZ Bren 2 Ms rifles with 30-round ammo magazines to cull the deer–gear choices that are illegal for government-licensed hunters, reported Nicolas Johnson, publisher for The Gun Blog.

"It’s crazy that Parks Canada flew in marksmen from other countries to shoot deer," Terrazzano said. "It’s even crazier that these ‘marksmen’ kept shooting the wrong kind of deer."

In B.C. it is unlawful to hunt the wrong species of animal. Dereliction can lead to significant fines and potential barring from hunting altogether.

Meanwhile, residents of Sidney Island killed 54 deer at no cost to taxpayers, the Vancouver Sun reported"The good folks who live on Sidney Island are clearly more qualified to handle this and the government should get out of their way," Terrazzano said.

Property owners and islander hunters sought the total cost for subsequent phases of the operation but received no clarification. Phase one is expected to cost $5.9 million. 

"People care a lot about this issue because it's another painful example of Liberal hypocrisy and waste," claimed Johnson. "Hypocrisy for giving explicit permission to their contractors to use certain firearms for a job, while criminalizing others who might use the same firearms for a similar job."

Coastal Conservation, a company based near Salmon Arm, received the contractThey specialize in removing invasive species from islands to encourage recovery of ecosystems. 

Parks Canada estimates there are upwards of 900 invasive deer on the island. Phase two of the operation involves ground hunting with dogs and will commence this fall.

According to the CTF, a detailed project budget showed Parks Canada is expected to spend $11.9 million total.

The access-to-information documents put taxpayers on the hook for $4.1 million for killing invasive and native deer on Sidney Island. An additional $2.8 million covered staffing costs at Parks Canada. 

Among other expenditures included $137,000 to provide "international workers" with firearm’s certification, $1.4 million earmarked for studies and analysis, and roughly $800,000 for "Indigenous participation."

"The waste comes from spending millions of taxpayer dollars for work that hunters might have done for free, or even paid to do," added Johnson.

"The Sidney Island fiasco shows how complex, convoluted and counter-productive Canada's anti-gun policies are," he said. "If a hunter used the same gear to take down one single deer to feed their family, they'd risk jail. And here marksmen are eradicating the deer population from a helicopter and getting paid handsomely for it. How does that make any sense to anyone?"
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