Despite some opposition, including a pair of letters from the public, the District of Oak Bay will apply for a provincial grant for its deer program.
Council approved sending an application, with a Nov. 14 deadline, during its Nov. 12 meeting.
“There was a lot of conversation as there always is with the deer topic on the specifics of the project,” said Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
“It was a healthy discussion around all the aspects of the program. We’re, as a municipality, going to do everything we can to make this successful. UWSS is committed to inoculating and getting this done next summer, so we’re moving forward with that … we need this grant money to do that.”
Oak Bay will apply to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for a matching grant of up to $31,655 to implement the next phases of the Oak Bay deer management strategy, substantially in the form of the program prepared by the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.
Council voted 6-1 in favour of moving forward with Coun. Hazel Braithwaite the only one opposed.
While the project is moving slower than he would like, Murdoch says now is not a time to look backward.
“We have an obligation as a council and a municipality to make sure that there’s actual work done to sterilize deer,” Murdodch said. “We need to make sure that work is done next year.”
The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society has collared and tagged 20 does to date and has a network of 40 cameras collecting information on the deer population, density, movement patterns and resource use.
Five bucks have a provincial ear tag and a UWSS ear tag. Two weeks ago, a buck that was tagged on Anderson Hill in March was photographed by a Saanich resident on Ten Mile Point, illustrating a wide range of travel for bucks. Residents have also spotted tagged bucks near Cordova Bay, and near the intersection of Shelbourne and Hillside.
Although the expectation was that up to 40 does would receive an immune-contraceptive vaccine and a subsequent booster in September/October 2018, in late August the UWSS learned it must consult with five First Nations bands, in order to receive a General Wildlife Permit. The province initiated consultations on Sept. 21 and Chief Ron Sam of the Songhees Nation sent Oak Bay a letter supporting the immuno-contraception program.
A permit would be issued after full consultation. As it is dated for a year from the time it is issued, the permit would be valid for the next window of opportunity for vaccinating the does, late summer and early fall of 2019.
The proposed program funding for 2019 is $63,310 to be shared equally between the province and Oak Bay. For the district it is an increase of $11,655 over 2018. The additional funding would allow 40 more does to get the immunocontraception.