WHAT KIND OF DEER LIVE IN OAK BAY?
HOW MANY DEER LIVE IN OAK BAY?
As reported in our UWSS 2019 Progress Report, there are about 100 deer in all of Oak Bay. This has been established using a combination of radio/GPS collars in conjunction with an array of motion-triggered wildlife cameras that allow us to calculate an accurate deer population size. This form of mark-recapture study allows us to capture photos of both tagged and untagged deer. If we want to know more about how many deer there are and where they live, we need to be able to track their movements. This is a standard approach to wildlife research used around the globe.
WHY ARE SOME DEER IN OAK BAY WEARING COLLARS?
DO THE COLLARS HURT THE DEER?
In order to allow for growth, collars were given a loose fit intentionally. At certain times of the year, like the spring moult, the collars can help to rub off moulting fur. There is no evidence that collars cause any harm to the animal. However, we take all reports of collar-induced injury seriously and consult with our wildlife veterinarian immediately.
WHAT IS IMMUNO-CONTRACEPTION (IC)?
WHY IMMUNO-CONTRACEPTION (IC) AND NOT A CULL OR TRANSLOCATION?
In a lethal cull, deer are caught in baited net traps, stunned with a bolt gun to the skull and the throat is slit until death from bleeding. Culls are not supported by the BCSPCA. Culls have also been shown to actually increase the local deer population. A program in Kelowna has demonstrated that after five years of culling, the deer population is now 36% higher than before their removal.
Once deer are removed from the population – through either culls or translocations – deer from neighbouring areas move into the now available habitat.
On the other hand, IC-vaccinated deer will maintain their home ranges, deterring inward migration. IC-vaccination may also reduce the number of “aggressive deer” because vaccinated does won’t have fawns to defend. Does that aren’t lactating eat less.
WHY DON'T WE STERILIZE BUCKS INSTEAD?
Each doe has the ability to produce one or two fawns each year. Sterilizing bucks isn’t a great solution because deer are not a monogamous species. If we miss sterilizing just one buck, that male could impregnate all of the does, having no impact on population growth. For each doe that we give contraception to, we’re decreasing the coming year’s fawn population by 1 or 2 animals. Thus females hold the key to population growth.
HOW ARE DEER CAPTURED AND TREATED WITH THE CONTRACEPTIVE VACCINE?
WHEN WILL OAK BAY DEER BE TREATED WITH IMMUNO-CONTRACEPTIVE VACCINE?
We are planning an immuno-contraception trial for early fall 2019.
Fawns are typically born late May through June, although late-comers can be born throughout the summer. We will avoid the stress of handling any does and fawns during this critical period. However, immuno-contraception needs to be administered before the rutting and mating season in November.
HOW QUICKLY WILL THE OAK BAY DEER POPULATION DECLINE AFTER IMMUNO-CONTRACEPTION?
That depends on what proportion of the deer population is treated. We have a permit to IC up to 80 does in Oak Bay, and since preliminary analysis estimates the number of deer at 97, we expect to have nearly complete coverage.