The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society set about seeking funds from the Capital Regional District for its urban deer plan the day after hearing vocal support from directors during the July 22 Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee.
Bryan Gates, president of UWSS, and vice-president Kristy Kilpatrick made a presentation similar to the one earlier that week at Oak Bay council outlining the Deer Plan Oak Bay pilot project to a capture-vaccinate-tag-release pilot project planned for the fall for the Capital Regional District.
“This level of community volunteerism is impressive … it is certainly one I think should be supported,” said committee chair and North Saanich Mayor Alice Finall.
“The work being done by volunteers in the community … would serve at least as an example at the direction the province should be taking.”
The UWSS aims to control deer numbers and learn more about the population and reduce conflicts involving deer. They received $5,000 funding from Oak Bay council and were seeking a grant of $35,000 from the CRD. “We were extremely happy with the supportive and encouraging comments from many of the directors at the PTPS Committee meeting,” Kilpatrick said.
The committee decided, in response to a staff report, that the CRD shouldn’t take on a deer management role, but some offered moral support for the UWSS project, including CRD director Vic Derman, a Saanich councillor. “This group impresses me … This represents a scientific approach to the issue we’re dealing with.”
He noted that identifying and putting a number on the population and tracking it is critical.
“Otherwise you are doing something that’s a shot in the dark,” Derman said, encouraging the group to make formal application to the CRD for funding. “It leaves you very little information to decide whether you’ve been successful.”
Dr. Sara Dubois, BC SPCA, and Kelly Carson, of DeerSafe, also voiced support of the pilot project that includes contraception and a deer count. “They are doing great work in your community and they are your community members,” she said.
Carson also presented an updated petition opposing a cull, featuring 4,132 resident signatures and urged the committee to “spend a little more time and thought on other methods.”
The Deer Plan Oak Bay project includes public education and road signs. They’ve also secured 25 doses of the immuno-contraceptive SpayVac and submitted an application to the province for a permit to treat up to 25 deer. UWSS plans to use modified Clover traps loaned by the province to capture the deer and administer the drug. They must also apply for a federal permit to use SpayVac, as it’s an experimental drug.
“We have a ‘to-do list’ of things that need to be done for the field work, from sewing covers for the traps, to outfitting deer handling kits for our field workers. There is lots to be done, it’s a busy summer for the UWSS,” Kilpatrick said.
“We continue to seek donations, and have been really happy with the support and generosity of so many donors,” she said.
“Interest and understanding of our proposal is building and we are gaining momentum as more and more people learn about our action plan – in the last week alone we’ve raised over $3,000.”
Another echo of the Oak Bay council meeting was a lament the province isn’t more proactive regarding its deer.
“The province does not seem to be fulfilling it’s own legal requirements. It’s worth efforts I think to continue to remind them,” Derman said.
“Their legislation was designed to manage wildlife in a natural setting and don’t think anticipated management of wildlife in an urban setting … they should make better efforts to come to grips with it.”