Oak Bay deer project working despite new fawns appearing

Deer contraception project clarifies confusion about fawns

Fawns are bouncing through Oak Bay this spring as always, stirring plenty of confusion among residents.

The confusion comes from the red tags the does are wearing, as Oak Bay is in the first spring after 60 does were tagged and given a contraceptive to prevent pregnancies.

“We’ve had a lot of people posting to social media that the does have a tag and a fawn so the [contraception] isn’t working,” said Alina Fisher, a wildlife biologist on the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society research team.

What residents might have missed is that when the UWSS’ immuno-contraception pilot program inoculated the majority of Oak Bay does last year, they also tagged another 20 does as a “control group” that was not given the contraceptive.

READ MORE: On the hunt for Oak Bay’s most wanted

“The control does will have bright pink tags with red tape on them [as pictured here],” Fisher said. “The other colour combinations are for the [contraceptive-treated] deer.”

The program identified and tagged most of the does in Oak Bay but there are also likely to be a few unaccounted does that are not tagged at all. They are not part of the study. There are about 60 that were tagged and inoculated, and their tags are different from the 20 tagged does that are not inoculated.

The reason for the colour combinations is that the program also involves using motion-activated “camera-traps” hidden around Oak Bay. The combinations allow researchers to identify which of the 60 does is in a photo.

“We had to leave a control group so we could see how effective the contraception is [compared to the natural birth rate], and that control group is likely to have fawns but we don’t know how many,” Fisher said.

And there is bound to be a doe or two that were inoculated with the contraceptive but still had a fawn this spring.

READ ALSO: Esquimalt likely two years from starting deer birth control efforts

Those numbers are slowly being collected now using camera traps but also through the help of the public. It will take the better part of the summer for researchers to confirm which does have had fawns or not.

Researchers encourage residents to share photos and information that they see. Send photos with an address and time stamp to info@uwss.ca.

For more on the program and the deer tags visit uwss.ca/2020/06/01/2042/.

Pilot project

“The goal of the project is to find the sweet spot in terms of how many does need to be vaccinated given the effectiveness of the vaccine,” Fisher said.

At this time that means reducing the local population to a manageable level, a level debated by Oak Bay residents. The goal is not to eradicate the deer altogether as they are a native species and are valued by the First Nations.

In an Oak Bay survey earlier this year, the dividing line leaned towards keeping the deer population though many assert they can not keep a garden without intensive netting.

Eventually the province could approve this method for all municipalities, at which point each city could approve to adopt it.

“For now all eyes are on Oak Bay, but potentially all of Greater Victoria could use immuno-contraception to reduce the deer,” Fisher said.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

oak bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Small crowd gathers to watch 231-tonne stacker-reclaimer load onto barge crane

The Dynamic Beast barge crane, known for work with Johnson Street Bridge, makes a return

National Drug Drop-Off month aims to reduce substance abuse by house-bound youth

Expert says there is misconception prescribed medication is safe to take

Saanich Peninsula Hospital Auxiliary hosts pop-up fundraiser in Sidney

Temporary store to feature unique hand made gifts, collectibles, clothing, books and more

Victoria mayor wants newspaper boxes removed from downtown streets

Mayor Lisa Helps says the boxes are not needed, often filled with garbage

Esquimalt artists take to great outdoors amid coronavirus

Group invites budding, or just willing artists, to join at Saxe Point

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Crews work overnight to try to put out wildfire on Pender Island

Fire department and B.C. Wildfire Service crews extinguishing fire in ‘extremely difficult terrain’

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Most Read