Are you interested in the latest results of the Oak Bay Deer project? Lead researcher Dr. Jason T. Fisher and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Adam Hering recently presented the results of the project to the Botstiber Institute for Wildlife Fertility Control. You can view the Webinar to the right, or access full details at https://wildlifefertilitycontrol.org/webinar-11-blacktail-deer/
Buck behaviour during rutting season can seem unusual, but they’re really just single-minded as they follow the scent toward a doe. Jen Blyth / Black Press Media photo
(article and photo reproduced with permission)
You’re likely accustomed to seeing does strolling the neighbourhood with their offspring in tow, but it’s the bachelor bucks who come into focus this time of year.
And in focus for the bucks – or at least the focal point of their attentions – is their female counterpart.
Yes, along with cooler temperatures and falling leaves, November brings the free-flowing hormones of rutting season.
You may have already seen the viral video of a pair of Oak Bay bucks squaring off in a burst of bravado, going antler to antler in a bid to win the (ahem) heart of local does.
But rest assured, while dramatic, the deer really only have eyes – and sniffers – for each other.
So, what does this mean for us as we go about our less amorous business?
Here are a few timely reminders:
- Distracted by love – Buck behaviour during rutting season can seem unusual, but they’re really just single-minded as they follow the scent toward a doe. That DOES mean they can run out into the road, without noticing an approaching bike or vehicle. It’s important for drivers, cyclists and others to pay extra attention, especially around dawn and dusk, when deer tend to be more active.
- When driving, watch the roadside – Drive as though you were in a playground or school zone; pay extra attention and reduce speed, especially when driving in unfamiliar areas at dawn and dusk. Scan ahead, looking for movement or shining eyes at the roadside.
- When cycling, give yourself time and space – Take plenty of room so you can react to any unpredictable movement. If it’s safe to do so, pull out from the curb and give the deer a wide berth. Slow down, and just like a driver, scan ahead, looking for movement.
- When walking, keep your distance – While bucks are only interested in other deer, it’s best to keep your distance as you would with any wildlife.Because a deer’s natural response to danger is to run, always leave it an escape route away from yourself.
- When with dogs, keep them close and calm – No matter their size, dogs are perceived by deer as a potential threat. Always check your yard carefully for deer before letting your dog out. When walking, keep dogs on a leash and if you encounter a deer, keep your dog pulled in close to you, stop it barking if possible, and walk away from the deer.
It is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Marion Cumming. Marion was one of the founding members of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society, creating our logo, providing us with artwork that many of you have seen on our cards, and always encouraging and supporting our research and work. Marion had an extraordinary connection to all urban wildlife, she welcomed deer and all animals onto her very special property that she has now donated to the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
We will greatly miss Marion’s gentle, optimistic, and eternally cheerful support.
Starting this Monday, you’ll be seeing our team out in Oak Bay doing collar checks. We want to make sure that as some of the deer have grown, their collars aren’t too tight. We’ll be making sure that collars fit snugly enough that there is room for two or three fingers under the collars (as seen to the left), but not loose enough that they could snag on bushes.
So if you see our team out and about in our high visibility vests, please feel free to let us know if you’ve seen any deer that we should try to check. You can also email us at email@example.com.
We are happy to confirm that another year of provincial and municipal funding has been approved for this multi-year research project on urban deer and the impact of immuno-contraception (IC) as a deer population management tool. The Provincial Urban Deer Cost Share Project (PUDAC) has accepted the 2022 application prepared by the UWSS on behalf of Oak Bay.
In 2022 the data collection and analysis will continue, allowing our scientists to determine the impact of the decrease in fawn abundance on the adult deer population, as fewer fawns will be maturing into adulthood. You will also see our field team out and about in their flashy orange vests, in early to mid-April, checking on collar fits and anything else that may need our attention. We’ve really appreciated community eyes on Oak Bay’s deer, letting us know if a collar appears too tight, or if one of the tagged deer has an injury. Whenever possible, we really appreciate photographs (taken safely) and locations, which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Expanding on the 2019 findings of where deer can be found in Oak Bay, we have been able to identify that deer hone in on areas with lush green vegetation and large-sized residential lots (as well as parks, green spaces, and golf courses). Results of our research to date indicate that the conversion of the historic drought-resistant Garry oak ecosystems into the lush, landscaped urban environment of Oak Bay is likely supporting an urban Columbian black-tailed deer population more than the native Garry oak ecosystem would.
Additionally, after just one year of immunocontraception (IC: in the fall of 2019), the relative abundance of fawns decreased by nearly 60% in 2020. The adult deer population has stayed largely constant over the first year of IC (approx. 100 deer in all of Oak Bay), but the decrease in the abundance of fawns should result in a decrease in adult deer as fewer fawns will be maturing into adulthood.
For more information, please go to our research page: https://uwss.ca/our-research/
We’ll keep you updated!