Deer group seeks images for inventory

Focus of UVSS's winter photo inventory is on bucks

  • Dec. 15, 2015 7:00 a.m.
A good identifying image of a mature buck in Oak Bay. UWSS hopes to identify deer for research

A good identifying image of a mature buck in Oak Bay. UWSS hopes to identify deer for research

The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society hopes readers will share images of deer in the community.

The group is undertaking a photo inventory of urban deer in Oak Bay. Black-tailed deer can be identified by scars, nicks, limps and other features unique to each individual.

The hope is the inventory will contribute to a better understanding of deer numbers in Oak Bay, and their movement patterns, says Bryan Gates, president of the UWSS and a former wildlife biologist with the province.

“No one knows how many deer live in Oak Bay. For some people, there are too many, for others there are not too many. That will never change,” Gates said. “Our photo inventory should give us some reliable estimates, and over time may show trends in numbers.”

For now, the emphasis is on antlered bucks in the winter season. The size and shape of antlers varies from buck to buck, making it relatively easy to identify individual deer.

Bucks typically lose their antlers early in the new year, so photos taken now to late January will be most useful. Head-on photos with ears spread are best. Although the immediate focus is on the bucks, photos of female and yearling deer are also welcome.

“We invite everyone with an interest in urban wildlife, and especially deer, to get involved and help us gather this much-needed information,” Gates says.

“With a broad set of easily identifiable individuals, repeated and frequent road-side counts of deer can contribute to a reliable estimate of the total population within the community. And that’s an essential first step to responsible management.”

Gates adds that photographers should take care not to approach deer too closely or startle them near a roadway.

Send images to brgates@shaw.ca with the date and exact location included.