The Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority will be harvesting deer this week as part of a controlled hunt at the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum.
From December 16-20 trails will be closed to the public as the HWHA helps the park control deer populations within its borders.
In a press release earlier this week the RBG stated that it is “one of Canada’s most important botanical gardens, distinguished by a first class horticultural collection”. This distinction has become threatened by what the RBG says is an out of balance population of deer in the park.
The press release also states the “…health and well-being of RBG collections is threatened. It is well documented that the White-tailed deer population in the region is well above the provincial average density. A segment of the regional deer population has moved from natural food plants to collections material in the arboretum resulting in significant damage from browse and antler rubbing–in many cases causing death of the plants.” For this purpose the park has sought the assistance of the Haudenosaune, inviting the hunters to collect deer for one week.
Royal Botanical Gardens also stated in the release that they “…approached the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority (HWHA), representatives of the Hadenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, because of their relationship with Dundas Valley and Ontario Parks (Short Hills). The HWHA has experience instituting deer harvests that may help manage deer populations.”
However the deer hunt is being opposed by an online collective under the Facebook group ‘Protest against Royal Botanical Gardens Deer Hunt’. The group has organized a social media campaign via Facebook and Twitter to express their opposition. Many group members participated in a campaign, using social media to offer bad reviews of the RBG online in relation to the hunt. This organized effort resulted in a barrage of anti-hunting comments left on the park’s Facebook site and a ratings loss, bringing the park down to 4 out of 5 stars.
Group members are taking to Twitter, using the hashtags #RBGCanadaDeerKill and #deeroverlilacs in hopes these will be start to trend on Twitter, bringing social media attention to the voice of opposition.
The group lists contact information for Ministry officials and MP’s to voice their opposition. There will be an on-site protest of the hunt at the gates to the park for the week.
The Hamilton Police Services have been contacted to ensure public safety for all throughout the week.