While four communities prepare for deer management programs after an influx of provincial cash, Oak Bay’s application remains under review.
Under the Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program, the province is providing up to $100,000 in cost-share funding, to a maximum of $20,000 per eligible community, for projects that focus on deer culls and research into population control methods such as relocation and immuno-contraception.
Oak Bay applied to the BC Ministry of Lands, Forest, and Natural Resource Operations for matching funds of up to $20,000 to contract with the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society to develop and implement a deer reduction plan using fertility control.
Invermere, Grand Forks, Elkford and Cranbrook were approved, while the ministry works with Oak Bay to refine its proposal.
“We continue to be hopeful that our proposal will be successful,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen. “There’s been a lot of work put into the application. The planned project offers an alternate non-lethal method for deer management that, ifit works, can become a model across the province.”
The Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share program offers matching funds, and support varies for each region. Interior culls are eligible for $200 deer, while on the coast, the rate is $300 per deer. Interior deer are less expensive to cull because winters are cold in the Interior, there is less food available and deer are more easily baited.
The UWSS application for funding would cover a first phase, including population modelling, GPS tracking for 10 deer, a deer count and enhancement of a new immuno-contraceptive.
“They had two basic concerns. … Their main concern was the availability of the immuno-contraceptive,” said Steve Huxter, of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society. “It’s something that’s new that’s never been done in an urban setting like this. Because it’s new they want to make sure it’s a success.”
The only immuno-contraceptive used successfully in BC previously is now out of production. UWSS plans take an existing drug that is effective for one year, and make it last longer for use on Oak Bay does.
A ministry spokesperson said there are a few other drugs available but more research would be needed to understand their pros and cons for B.C. deer, and whether they can be applied to the specific situation in Oak Bay.
Other details that need to be worked out include the permitting process for the project and drugs and specifics on capture and drug administration methods.
The other concern was “funding certain portions of doing the inventory of the deer and collaring and tracking and that research part of it,” said Huxter, also the project manager. “It’s a pretty fluid situation right now. (An inventory is) something we need to do for sure. How do you proceed with a deer management program if you don’t know how many deer there are? We need to know what we’re working with first and foremost.”
The UWSS scientific advisory group is working with the ministry.
“They’ll work it out between them. They’re very willing to work with us,” Huxter said. “They want to give us the money we just need to clear up some concerns and clarify some things for them. It’s all very positive.”
Grant agreements with the successful applicants are to be finalized later this month with project completion reports due March 17, 2017.
Grand Forks will receive $16,000 to cull 80 deer, Invermere is approved for $10,200 to cull 51 deer and Elkford’s application for $10,000 to cull 50 deer was approved. Cranbrook will receive a $19,900 grant to study the feasibility of relocating problem deer that have taken up residence in urban environments. Cranbrook’s study will build upon research Elkford started last year, which involved urban deer in Cranbrook, Elkford, Invermere and Kimberley.
Did you know?
n According to the BC Ministry of Lands, Forest, and Natural Resource Operations, deer can be captured by darts, as well as in modified Clover traps. Each animal is legally required to be permanently marked to identify that it has been given the immuno-contraceptive, as they are then unsuitable for human consumption.
n Formal deer management plans are mandatory for all communities interested in deer culls, immunocontraceptive projects and other forms of population control.