WHY ARE THE COLLARS NECESSARY?
- The satellite collars are a standard research tool for wildlife studies, used worldwide.
- 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.
HOW HEAVY ARE THE COLLARS?
- The collars have multiple components: GPS to take a location, a transmitter to beam the data to satellite, and a radio transmitter so we can follow them on the ground, as well as batteries. The housing unit weighs 330 grams ( 0.727 lb) plus batteries and measures 78x57x74 mm (https://www.lotek.com/lifecycle-gps-collar.htm)
- The collars are less than 1% of the animal’s weight. They are designed to accommodate the technology but does all that while staying lightweight.
HOW WAS THIS COLLAR CHOSEN?
- This collar is used on black-tailed deer all over North America.
- It is the right size and weight for the animal, as determined by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), and as confirmed by BC Fish and Wildlife, who approved the current study in Oak Bay. The BC SPCA also approved.
WILL THE COLLARS CAUSE HARM TO THE DEER?
- There is no evidence from any collaring studies worldwide that the collars cause harm to the animal. This is why they are widely approved for use.
- Deer moult in the spring, and the collars help fur rub off.
- Does give birth in the spring and separate themselves from other deer, and may look anxious. This behaviour is not caused by the collars.
DO THE COLLARS INTERFERE WITH EATING?
- Deer use all kinds of poses to eat, including bending their “knees”, dropping low, stooping, or even sitting. The collar isn’t making them do anything they wouldn’t do otherwise.
- The collars have been carefully fitted by a wildlife veterinarian and wildlife biologist and continue to be monitored to ensure the deer are comfortable. They fit reasonably snugly so as to not bounce around when the deer run.
- The tags can move around to accommodate deer movement, as they are designed to do.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY LARGE TAGS ON THE COLLARS?
- The tags make the deer more visible (they also have reflective tape on them), and we need that to be able to identify individual deer on the trail cameras hosted by citizens of Oak Bay. Each deer has its own colour code.
- By tracking when and where individual deer appear on camera, we can use this information and apply it to unmarked (uncollared) deer across Oak Bay, to estimate their numbers.
- The large coloured tags ensure we can identify them on every camera image, and do not interfere with the deer.
DO THE TAGS MAKE THE DEER MORE VULNERABLE TO PREDATION?
- Urban deer are not predated as there are no cougars in Oak Bay. On the odd occasion when a young cougar wanders into Oak Bay (having travelled through Saanich and/or Victoria) they predate on rabbits and other small animals.
- The only thing that kills deer in large numbers in Oak Bay is people driving their cars – so being visible is a net benefit to the deer, by hopefully making them more visible to drivers.