Wildlife society aims to reduce conflicts with deer

New signs ask Oak Bay drivers to slow down for fawns

Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society president Bryan Gates plants a sign on his Uplands lawn as part of the public awareness campaign on speed and deer.

Election-like signs are popping up across the Oak Bay landscape in a public awareness campaign of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

“One of the mandates of the UWSS is to lead sustained public awareness campaigns through a variety of channels to help reduce human-deer conflicts,” said society vice-president Kristy Kilpatrick. “We’ve started this by having professional election-style signs made and we are putting them up around Oak Bay with the goal of reducing vehicle-deer collisions during fawn season and beyond.”

Society president Bryan Gates said a deer wandered across the road nearby as he placed signs on his lawn in the Uplands area last weekend.

“Our approach really is to encourage people to slow down this time of year, but all year as well. If you know you’re in a deer area, don’t speed,” he said, noting the fawns appear to be early. “I suspect there will be more born in the next two weeks.”

The signs address the issues of public safety as well as conflict reduction, two criteria in the regional deer management plan, Kilpatrick noted.

“We want people to know that most vehicle-deer collisions are preventable. It means slowing down and driving with caution in areas where we know deer cross,” she said.

“Fawns are particularly vulnerable during June and July, especially when multiple fawns are crossing the road behind the doe. When a doe crosses the road, it’s extremely likely that up to three fawns will follow.”

Vehicle and deer collisions are costly in terms of vehicle damage and risk of injury, they are distressing to motorists and first responders, and cause unnecessary animal suffering, Gates said.

“The people of the municipality do not want to be in a collision with anything, let alone a deer,” he added.

Signs went up first at the University of Victoria, where UVSS already had permission in place to put them around Ring Road.

“They recognized this as a safety issue so they allowed it right away,” Kilpatrick said.

With only a handful of signs on private property around the community, Kilpatrick was surprised at the requests already coming in both here and from the neighbouring communities of Saanich and Victoria. Find out how to get a sign online at deerplanoakbay.ca.

“There’s no cost for the signs but a donation toward the Deer Plan Oak Bay program would be appreciated,” Gates said.

Part of that plan is to capture, sterilize, tag and release female deer in the area using a contraceptive called Spay-Vac. Tagging the deer would also provide a sense of population changes.

“We want to do something that will not upset 60 or 50 or 20 per cent of the community,” Gates said. “That’s the ultimate goal, but in the meantime, please slow down.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com