November 16, 2016 06:00 AM
Friday: A young buck stops for a quick snack as he makes his rounds on Rockland Avenue. Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist
“The hope of the program is that it will reduce the herd in Oak Bay,” Mayor Nils Jensen said Tuesday.
Oak Bay council has agreed to apply to the province for matching funds up to $20,000 to contract with the society to “implement a deer-reduction plan using fertility control.”
“We’re very pleased [with the decision],” said society president Kristy Kilpatrick.
She said details are being formulated so it is too early to say how many deer might be targeted for vaccination.
“I think the most important aspect of the motion [Monday] night was that we are now able to undertake a deer management program under the provincial definition of a research project, and that this is potentially going to provide another tool for communities who engage in urban deer reduction to do it in a humane, non-lethal way,” Kilpatrick said in an email.
The deadline for the application is Nov. 22.
The last-minute motion for the deer plan was brought forward by Coun. Tara Ney.
Created in 2015, the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society includes current and former educators, retired biologists, civil servants and working professionals. It has been lobbying for a science-based alternative to killing deer and favours controlling deer numbers through the use of SpayVac, a contraceptive vaccine.
A survey of Oak Bay residents found that deer were top of mind for many Oak Bay residents. “We saw the results of the survey were quite clear that people felt that there was an overpopulation of deer in Oak Bay,” Jensen said.
Typically, through a deer contraception program deer would be trapped in a modified clover trap. The does would be tagged, inoculated and released.
In 2015 Oak Bay sparked a wave of protests when it conducted a deer cull. Only 11 deer were killed over a 16-day period.
Jensen said when it was examining its options for deer control two years ago it was told by the province that contraceptive control was not an option and would not be approved.
“We were also told that there was no serum available in Canada at that time. So we didn’t have that as an option for consideration at that time,” Jensen said. “My position all along is we need to reduce the herd. Full stop.
“Again, that was something we saw in the results of the survey and if this is successful then it will meet that objective,” he said.
The matter will be back before councillors Monday to finalize details, Jensen said.
Jensen said there’s no question the number of deer is on the rise. Eight years ago, vehicle collisions involving deer were rare in Oak Bay. This year the municipality is on track to haul away 50 deer carcasses, he said.