Jason Fisher (left) presents an Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society report to Oak Bay councillors and community members at a committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 19. (Jesse Laufer/News Staff).

Oak Bay one step closer to deer immunocontraceptive test

Up to 80 deer could be given ‘birth control’ vaccine in the fall

At least 97 adult deer live in Oak Bay, but there is still no total population estimation.

In a progress report from the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society on black-tailed deer in Oak Bay, it was found that between 72 and 128 deer live in Oak Bay, with a median number of 97.

However, the society’s numbers only include adult deer — not fawns — so the total number of deer is higher.

The report was released by the municipality Feb. 15, and reviewed during the Feb. 19 committee of the whole meeting.

The report is now being passed on to the province, bringing Oak Bay one step closer to trying an immunocontraceptive vaccine on its deer.

READ MORE: Report estimates 100 deer call Oak Bay home

During the meeting, the public was informed the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society and the municipality have a licence to immunize 40 deer, but that they are in the process of expanding that licence to 80.

How many deer might receive the vaccine is still unknown, as the society doesn’t yet have a gender breakdown. Regardless, the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society expects to start that phase of deer control in the fall.

“We’re going to get as many as we possibly can,” said Jason Fisher, the lead researcher behind the report during the meeting.

Fisher further noted that the population estimations will only get more precise as the study continues. In addition to determining age and gender breakdowns, the next steps for the study will be to look at density and demographic changes during different seasons, movement patterns, and finding out which features of the urban landscape deer select.

“Future work will involve analysis of [black-tailed deer] habitat selection and movement patterns throughout the urban environment of Oak Bay, as well as allowing us to further refine population density estimates as we collect and process additional camera and GPS data across multiple seasons,” states the report’s executive summary.

These numbers, as well as any subsequent reports, will allow for a direct comparison of density estimates following any future deer management policies.

REVISIT: Deer cull ends in Oak Bay (2015)

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A doe with the new GPS collar and identification tags. The collars are GPS radio collars that allow the research team to track the does movements though satellites. They are the lightest-weight collars on the market (3 lbs) and have a timed drop-off mechanism. When the collars are put on, the timer starts and the collars drop off on their own after two years. (Keri Coles/ News Staff)

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