Parks Canada deer hunt project to cost taxpayers $12 million

Author: Ryan Thorpe 2024/05/22

At $10,000 a deer, this is already an expensive hunting trip.

But the bill is about to get a lot bigger.

Parks Canada has earmarked $12 million for its controversial plan to eradicate a deer species and restore native vegetation on a tiny island in British Columbia, according to access-to-information records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“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.”

The $12-million Fur to Forest program is a Parks Canada effort to eradicate the European fallow deer population on Sidney Island (located between the coast of B.C. and Vancouver Island), and restore native vegetation, tree seedlings and shrubs. 

So far, Parks Canada has employed exotically expensive hunting techniques.

Foreign sharpshooters armed with restricted semi-automatic rifles hunted the deer during phase one of the operations. Phase one cost more than $800,000, including $67,000 spent renting a helicopter, for a hit to taxpayers of $10,000 a head. 

The expert marksmen, from the United States and New Zealand, only managed to kill 84 deer. Eighteen were the wrong kind of deer – native black-tailed deer. They weren’t able to confirm the species of the three other deer shot.

It is illegal to harvest the wrong species of animal during a hunt in B.C.

Meanwhile, residents of Sidney Island organized their own hunt last fall. They killed 54 deer at no cost to taxpayers.

“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.”

It’s been widely reported the project will cost $5.9 million

But the records obtained by the CTF show the story gets worse for taxpayers. A detailed project budget obtained through an access-to-information request reveals Parks Canada plans to spend $11.9 million on the scheme.

Taxpayers will be on the hook for $4.1 million for the killing of deer on Sidney Island, according to the records. An additional $2.8 million will go towards the salaries and benefits of Parks Canada staff. 

A total of $137,000 will be spent on “firearms certification for international workers” throughout the project, while $1.4 million will go towards studies and analysis, and nearly $800,000 is earmarked for “Indigenous participation.” 

Breakdown of costs, Fur to Forest program, access-to-information records


$2.3 million

Analysis and Studies

$1.4 million

Indigenous Participation


Deer Eradication

$4.1 million


$3.3 million


$11.9 million

*Includes $53,000 for “forest restoration” services, “plants” and “seedlings.”

Parks Canada estimates there are between 300 and 900 invasive deer on the island. Phase two of the operation, which is scheduled to begin this fall, will involve ground hunting with dogs. 

“Let’s just state the obvious: Parks Canada is bad at hunting and more money isn’t going to make it better,” Terrazzano said. “The good folks who live on Sidney Island are clearly more qualified to handle this and the government should get out of their way.”

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Franco Terrazzano
Federal Director at
Canadian Taxpayers

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