Parks Canada deer hunt project to cost taxpayers $12 million

Author: Carson Binda 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 appalling that Parks Canada blew $12 million on a project that local hunters have been doing for free,” said Carson Binda, CTF British Columbia Director. “Our tax-dollars shouldn’t be spent on Parks Canada role playing Rambo.”

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.

“Parks Canada shouldn’t be flying in foreign snipers to shoot deer from a helicopter,” Binda said. “And if these ‘marksmen’ were really so elite, why did they keep 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.

“Parks Canada has dreamed up the most expensive way imaginable to cull these deer,” Binda said. “Local hunters who have been managing the deer for a decade for free are obviously a better option for this cull.”

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