Now that fawning season has begun, have you seen a doe with fawns in your neighbourhood?
This past fall, we undertook the second phase of the Oak Bay Urban Deer study supported by the District of Oak Bay and the Province of BC. Before the rut in 2019, the research team treated approximately 60 female deer with immuno-contraception (IC). This vaccination temporarily sterilizes the animal to prevent pregnancy during the rut. IC is estimated to be between 70 – 95% effective, and so the large majority of the does given IC should not produce fawns this spring.
All IC-treated does were marked with a coloured, numbered ear tag in each ear. For the population analysis, the deer need to be identified to the individual level when captured on the 39 motion-sensitive remote cameras set up around Oak Bay, so 40 out of the 60 does also have a coloured collar.
Since 2018 our “control group” originally sported a GPS collar + collar tags, but they had to be replaced this spring. The ~20 does that are in the “control group” (i.e. untreated) group allow for direct comparison to the IC treatment group. These animals are now marked with coloured collars, as well as large, pink collar tags marked with red reflective tape.
Any deer with a collar featuring large pink collar with tags (such as the one shown to the right), is a control group individual that has not been treated with IC. We expect the large majority of these individuals to have fawns with them this season. But those deer with either a collar (without pink tags) and/or numbered ear tags in each ear have been treated with IC, and should not have any newborn fawns with them this spring.
The UWSS research team will be focusing on measuring IC success this spring and need your help! If you snap a photo of a marked deer with fawns, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to help us analyze the effectiveness of the IC. If IC is as effective as anticipated, it could be approved as an effective management technique for greater Victoria, and even across the Province of BC.
Though the number of fawns is expected to be much less than in previous years, you should still remember to be on the lookout for does and their fawns. For tips and for more info, please visit https://uwss.ca/2020/04/28/fawn-season-2020/
Doe with three fawns this May in Oak Bay. This doe is part of the “control group” that were not given immunocontraception in fall of 2019. Photo Alexis Moores, shared with permission.