Deer in Oak Bay
Deer in Oak Bay
The District of Oak Bay and the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS) have partnered to implement a science-based urban deer management strategy for Oak Bay, with funding assistance and permit approvals from the Province of BC.
The Oak Bay deer management project has been testing whether immuno-contraception can be applied to does in a field/urban setting and whether the vaccine being used is effective at controlling deer population growth.
The following work will be undertaken in 2022:
- Evaluate BTD habitat-use before and after implementation of IC;
- Quantify changes to relative abundance of fawns following three years of IC treatment;
- Determine a precise deer population size estimate and model deer population change following three years of IC treatment;
- Continue to develop an evidence-based, systematic, long-term urban deer management program; and
- Provide a science-based standard for effective sub(urban) non-lethal wildlife population control.
Backgrounder: Oak Bay Urban Deer Management
In 2016, the Oak Bay Council, along with Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society signed onto the provincial urban deer cost-share research program.
- The first phase consisted of public education, data collection and analysis with the goal of better understanding population numbers, deer ecology and migration patterns of the deer population.
- Phase one fitted a control group of 20 does with GPS collars.
- Phase two, undertaken in Fall 2019, consisted of administering immuno-contraception to Oak Bay deer.
- In phase two, 60 does were administered immuno-contraceptive. The deer who received immuno-contraception were marked with coloured tags in both ears and a coloured collar to allow for individual identification. The 20 deer in the control group did not receive immuno-contraception.
- During phase two, over 650 Oak Bay property owners granted property access to the UWSS to administer immuno-contraceptive on their property.
- The third phase will consist of re-marking the control group and re-boostering deer vaccinated in 2019 as well as administering further primary vaccinations and boosters and collecting and further analyzing data to measure the efficiency of the contraception and impacts of the program on deer population.
The following work was undertaken in 2021:
- Analysis of a full-year pre-treatment dataset;
- Analysis of post-treatment data and quantification of the reduction in fawning rates and the overall urban deer population following two years of immuno-contraception treatment;
- Re-boostering of as many of the does treated in 2019 & 2020 as possible, and evaluation of the need for further primary treatment; and
- Continuation with public education, building on the citizen engagement undertaken in previous years.
Data analysis from the 2020/2021 camera data enabled UWSS to quantify the reduction in fawning rates and the overall urban deer population following two years of immuno-contraception treatment. In 2021, UWSS submitted the following two reports to the District summarizing findings to date:
Work in 2022 will focus on evaluating the deer population response after three years of IC treatment. No Immuno-contraceptive treatment will be applied in 2022. UWSS will undertake the following work:
- Model urban deer habitat-use and distribution patterns based on collected camera data;
- Analyze and compare fawn relative abundance following a second and third year of IC treatment;
- Model the urban deer population density for 2021 and 2022 to quantify population-level response after 2-3 years of IC treatment; and
- Continue with public education, building on citizen engagement undertaken to date, and to ensure that the community knows what to expect going forward.
- Immuno-contraception (IC) is non-lethal and allows the deer population to be gradually reduced in a stable and sustainable way.
- Immuno-contraception involves giving does several doses of contraception so that they do not conceive.
About the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society
The UWSS is a non-profit society that works with independent, expert wildlife scientists and veterinarians to focus on a scientific and evidence-based approach to deer population management.
Tips for Living with Wildlife and Reducing Risks of Conflict
We coexist with many species of wildlife here in the District of Oak Bay, from bees & birds, to raccoons, deer, and the occasional cougar. Bees, birds and bats are welcome wildlife within our neighbourhoods, partly because they help with pollination and insect control. But deer also provide important ecosystem services within our municipal environment, including:
- pruning, which stimulates plant growth
- decreasing fire risk
- dispersal of native plants
However, deer can also undo the efforts of avid gardeners, and deer behaviour can be unpredictable during spring fawning and the fall rut. The best way to avoid potential conflict with deer is to avoid attracting them in the first place. We recommend:
- don’t feed deer: don’t leave food out for deer, keep pet food indoors, clean up fallen fruit & birdseed, selective deer-resistant planting
- prevent access: repair holes in fencing, use garden barriers around accent plants or fruit trees, repellents, noisemakers, and scarecrows all dissuade use of your yard
- supervise pets: keep your cats inside, and your dogs with you and on a short leash
These suggestions will discourage deer from using your yard for food or bedding down, thus decreasing the likelihood of a negative interaction for you, your pets, or your children. Let’s keep all the residents of Oak Bay safe and happy.
More Information and Additional Resources:
For more information on Oak Bay's Deer Management Program and general information on Urban Deer:
For general information on urban deer and other wildlife:
UWSS Urban Deer flyer
Specific Information Information on Oak Bay/Provincial/UWSS research projects:
Finding a fawn:
Being followed by a deer:
Finding an injured deer:
Deer resistant gardening: