CRD Urban Deer Management Pilot Project Concludes in Oak Bay

March 10, 2015


625 Fisgard Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 1R7                     2167 Oak Bay Avenue Victoria, BC, V8R 1G2   

Media Release
For Immediate Release
March 10, 2015

Victoria, BC–- The District of Oak Bay (the District) and the Capital Regional District (CRD) announced today that the population reduction component of the Deer Management Strategy Pilot Project has concluded. After implementing the deer/human conflict reduction, public education and deer-vehicle collision mitigation recommendations laid out in the CRD Regional Deer Management Strategy, the District applied to the Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) for a permit to harvest up to 25 black-tailed deer within its municipal boundaries. MFLNRO is the government ministry responsible for wildlife management in B.C.  

A permit was issued to the District on January 27, and the District contracted Kootenay resident Mr. Ron Kerr to undertake the population reduction initiative as outlined in the permit. Mr. Kerr was trained by Province of  B.C. wildlife staff in the population reduction methodology of capture and euthanize.  Other methodologies, such as translocation and fertility control, because of inherent barriers to their success, make it impossible for provincial wildlife biologists to recommend them.  Mr. Kerr’s previous experience includes several successful population reduction programs in Cranbrook and Kimberly.  In 2012, Mr. Kerr’s professionalism was observed and documented by the BC SPCA’s Special Provincial Constable who concluded that Mr. Kerr’s work was conducted in a professional and proper manner. Mr. Kerr’s specialized expertise and extensive experience contributed greatly to the professional management of this population reduction component and the real time learning outcomes for the Oak Bay pilot program. 

Modified clover traps were active on private properties for 16 days. A total of 11 black-tailed deer were harvested over this period of time – 7 bucks and 4 does.

Harvested deer were given to the First Nations on whose Traditional Territory Oak Bay resides. Wild game is a highly-valued indigenous food source for First Nations and the carcasses are used for cultural and ceremonial purposes.

The Oak Bay deer harvest was the first to be undertaken in a densely populated urban setting in B.C., and the first to take place in a mild coastal climate. Motivated by growing concerns for public safety and a burgeoning population of deer in the community, the purpose of the pilot project in Oak Bay was to reduce incidents of deer/human conflict. In an environment rich in year-round vegetation where urban deer have no natural predators, birth and survival rates of fawns are on the rise, and as a result, so are incidents of deer/human conflicts. Responsible wildlife management is key to a safe community. The goal is not to eradicate deer but to responsibly manage them to reduce human/deer conflicts.

The CRD Regional Deer Management Strategy Oak Bay Pilot will be evaluated over the coming months and a formal report will be presented to the CRD’s Planning, Transportation and Protective Services Committee and Oak Bay Council, and shared publically.

Early lessons learned:

  • It is possible to undertake an ethical and humane population reduction program in Oak Bay on private property in a professional and responsible manner without causing disruption to neighbourhoods.
  • Our mild coastal climate and the onset of an early spring resulted in an abundance of food sources for the deer, which deterred some from entering the baited traps.
  • More residents volunteered their properties than we were able to accommodate with the number of traps available.
  • Raccoons and rats triggered the traps on a regular basis. They also challenged the process by chewing the nets resulting in damage that required repairs.
  • An on-going recognition that the only permitted population reduction methodology (capture and euthanize) available to communities in B.C. is opposed by some citizens.
  • There is a need for increased coordination and collaboration between the Provincial ministries involved in wildlife issues and local governments across the province to ensure more consistent, accessible and effective communication with the public to support responsible urban deer management.

 The CRD is a local government that delivers 200+ regional, sub-regional and local services for residents of the region which includes 13 municipalities and three electoral areas within 2370 square kilometres on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Governed by a 24 member Board of Directors, the CRD is working to serve the public, and build a vibrant, livable and sustainable region.