Deer contraception could be on the horizon in Saanich as the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society hopes to launch its pilot project, Deer Plan Oak Bay, this fall.
Under the capture-vaccinate-tag-release pilot project, deer would be vaccinated in the Oak Bay area with semi-permanent contraceptives.
UWSS set about seeking funds from the Capital Regional District for its urban deer plan the day after hearing vocal support from directors during a planning, transportation and protective services committee meeting last month.
“Our hope is that based on the work of the UWSS, other municipalities such as Saanich will properly implement the variety of mitigation steps that need to occur in the urban area,” said UWSS vice-president Kristy Kilpatrick.
Among the steps of the pilot project is to put an ear tag on does and bucks that are vaccinated, so UWSS can monitor the black-tailed deer movement patterns.
“[UWSS will] conduct a scientific deer count and gather other information such as gender and health of the deer, that will all help inform urban deer ecology,” Kilpatrick added.
Saanich Coun. Vic Derman, a CRD director, was impressed during the July 22 CRD presentation. He noted that identifying and putting a number on the population and tracking it is critical.
“Otherwise you are doing something that’s a shot in the dark,” Derman said. “It leaves you very little information to decide whether you’ve been successful.”
Derman encouraged the group to make formal application to the CRD for funding.
UWSS received $5,000 funding from Oak Bay council and are seeking a grant of $35,000 from the CRD.
“We were extremely happy with the supportive and encouraging comments from many of the directors at the PTPS committee meeting,” Kilpatrick said.
Dr. Sara Dubois, of the B.C. SPCA, and Kelly Carson, of DeerSafe, also voiced support for the pilot project that includes contraception and a deer count. The fall is ideal as it’s before the ‘rutting,’ or mating season, Kilpatrick said.
At this time, UWSS is currently awaiting the appropriate permits.
The Deer Plan Oak Bay project would be a leader, and is intended to inform other municipalities in the region as well as the province, Kilpatrick added.
“UWSS will determine the efficacy of immuno-contraception as a humane and sustainable way to manage urban deer populations.”
At this time Saanich is leaving deer management up to the CRD.
Deer signs prove popular
UWSS has fielded several requests from Saanich residents in response to its sign campaign. The goal of the traffic signs is to alert drivers in deer-travelled areas, and encourage them to slow down.
It’s been proven hugely popular, Kilpatrick said.
“We’ve had to do a second run of signs and are likely looking at doing a third run, including a number of residents of the Cordova Bay Road and Gordon Head areas.”