The second of Esquimalt’s three deer surveys gets underway this fall, to provide information about their numbers and popular growth.

Deer study using collars, cameras under watchful eyes outside of Victoria

Method ‘could revolutionize how we go about doing wildlife studies of this kind,’ says scientist

The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s (UWSS) work in Oak Bay could lay the foundation for new urban animal mapping techniques.

The UWSS recently released a report that found with 95 per cent confidence that between 72 and 128 adult deer live in Oak Bay. For many residents the study is just one more step towards using an immunocontraceptive vaccine on the deer to stem population growth. But for the scientific community the methods used by the UWSS, headed by Dr. Jason Fisher, are equally important.

This population estimate was done using 20 collared deer and 39 remote cameras deployed around Oak Bay. The collars are equipped with GPS, while the cameras are motion triggered.

READ MORE: Report estimates 100 deer call Oak Bay home

READ MORE: Oak Bay may be ‘at our capacity’ for deer

A few other teams use similar technology around the world, but not many, according to Fisher. Banff National Park uses similar techniques to track grizzly bears. In the Alberta oil patch, researchers have also used similar methods to track animals. However, both of those areas are much larger and less urban than Oak Bay.

“Here in Oak Bay, people are looking pretty closely at what we found because it’s a pretty small system. That’s the difference between this system and a lot of the other ones that this is being used in,” said Fisher. “So there’s a lot of eyes looking to see how this is going to work, and what kind of answers that we’re going to get out of this because it could revolutionize how we go about doing wildlife studies of this kind. Both in urban landscapes and in regular landscapes.”

By using a two-pronged GPS and remote camera approach to study a specific population, the UWSS created deer density maps with a high degree of confidence. The traditional method for such research would be aerial surveys, which are not as accurate Fisher said.

READ MORE: Oak Bay one step closer to deer immunocontraceptive test

READ MORE: Oak Bay seeks more provincial funding for deer birth control program

“By putting this carpet of cameras over top of Oak Bay, we can get a pretty fine scaled map of where the deer are, and where the deer aren’t. That’s what allowed us to estimate the density, but also map the relative density to different places across Oak Bay. It’s pretty groundbreaking, this is new tech,” Fisher said. “The textbook on this was only published in 2014, and new techniques that build on the old ones are coming out every few months and that’s what we’re using and updating our models with. So it’s really leading edge stuff. I’m pretty proud of what Oak Bay, the province and UWSS has achieved with this.”

Although there are some missing links in the data released so far – notably deer gender ratios and fawn numbers – it provides a solid foundation for even more accurate statistics in the future. A fact sheet the UWSS provided to Oak Bay council and residents during the Feb. 19 committee of the whole meeting, says future analyses would show demographic changes throughout the seasons, more detailed movement patterns, and features of the urban landscape where deer choose to spend their time.

During that meeting they also said they are on track to administer the first batch of immunocontraceptive vaccine in the fall.



jesse.laufer@oakbaynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Greater Victoria residents recognized for International Volunteer Day

Thousands of people volunteer throughout the community every year

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

Trend to convert lawns to meadows and gardens reaches Oak Bay

Front yard ‘food production,’ a piece of the puzzle

UVic researchers develop industry-changing ‘hyper-glue’

‘Cross-linking’ technology already playing a role in performance body armour

Artists with Disabilities Showcase returns for seventh year

Victoria Disability Resource Centre showcases artists from across the region

VIDEO: Rockslide closes Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Illict drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Trustees ask for more help after tearful meeting on B.C. school’s ‘toxic’ stench

Enforcement has ‘no teeth,’ school trustee says, while kids become sick

One of B.C’s last surviving strip clubs baring all again for Christmas charity

25th annual event is Sunday and raises money for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

Threats to the Fraser River at ‘new zenith,’ says river conservationist

The ‘Heart of the Fraser’ should be deemed ecologically significant according to ORC statement

Grandparents raising children: Shuswap grandma sees need for support

Peer group formed for those who have unexpectedly taken on the role of parenting

Final appeal rejected for man convicted in deaths of missing Alberta seniors

Lyle and Marie McCann were in their 70s when they left their home in St. Albert in 2010 and vanished

Most Read