The teams in the orange vests that you’ve been seeing out in the early hours of the morning have now successfully immuno-contracepted (IC) 51 deer, in less than three weeks! We have been finding the deer exactly where the preliminary report said we would, in the areas where there are the highest densities of deer, such as in the Uplands, around the golf courses, and some areas of South Oak Bay.
The field team, led by our wildlife veterinarian Dr. Adam Hering and our lead scientist, Dr. Jason Fisher, have used the same method of sedation that was used when we GPS collared 20 does in spring 2018. The deer are darted with a sedative, blindfolded once sedated, blood and fur samples are taken for the province, and after the necessary work is completed, a reversal drug is given that has the doe back on her feet within minutes.
This time however, while the doe is under sedation, we have also placed matching small tags in each ear, with a lasered number on them. There is also a smaller provincial tag which we’re required to mark the does with.
Along with being numbered, the tags are colour coded in an identification scheme that matches with a simple, coloured collar. These are not GPS collars and have no tags, their purpose is to help our wildlife biologists individually identify each doe both on the camera array spread across Oak Bay, and when we are looking for the does in order to give them an IC booster.
The identification collars fit high on the doe’s neck, and fit more snugly than the GPS collars. This is to minimize the chafing we noticed on some of the deer with the GPS collars. While the chafing is not a problem because the fur grows back in, we are always looking for ways to minimize the discomfort for these animals that we handle for the purposes of this cutting-edge research project.
To that end, we also inject lidocaine in each ear that numbs them for several hours so that the does don’t feel any pain from their colourful new ear piercings!
We expect to soon complete the first round of vaccinations on the does and then 2 – 6 weeks after the initial injection they will require a booster shot to maximize the efficacy of the immuno-contraceptive. The does don’t need to be sedated for the booster shot, so as long as we can re-locate them, the process will go quickly.
For more information on IC, please visit our FAQ page. If you have questions, or see a doe that is having an issue with her collar or ear, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.