During rutting season, bucks can be single-minded, so watch carefully for them running out into the road unexpectedly. Bryan Gates photo

Be watchful of bucks who are lookin’ for love

Rutting season for bucks can bring some squirrelly behaviour!

While urban fawns often lack the “street sense” that comes with experience with urban living, they have nothing on hormone-driven bucks in rutting season.

“The bucks do get a little crazy,” says Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s Kristy Kilpatrick, noting that conservation officers were recently called to the city for a buck that had a tussle with a laundry line and had the results wrapped around his antlers.

“Their behaviour can seem irrational, but really they’re just single-minded, so it’s important to be aware they can just run out. They’re not even seeing you, they’re just following a scent,” Kilpatrick explains.

Deer are most active at dawn and dusk, and with shorter days upon us, more drivers are on the roads at this time. This, combined with the change in animal behaviour, can cause a spike in collisions and related issues.

Here’s what you can do to reduce the chance of a collision with a hormone-befuddled buck:

  • Pay extra attention and reduce your speed, especially when driving in unfamiliar areas
  • Scan ahead, looking for movement or shining eyes at the roadside
  • Slow down when you see an animal to give it time to get safely out of the way.

Like does with their fawns, bucks can also be unpredictable during rutting season, when bucks rub their antlers on trees (or laundry lines!) and fight with other male deer, shoving with their antlers in demonstrations of strength that can be loud and aggressive.

While the bucks are only interested in other deer, it’s still best to keep your distance as you would with any wildlife:

  • Try to give the animals extra space.
  • Always check your yard carefully for deer before letting your dog out.
  • Because a deer’s natural response to danger is to run, always leave it an escape route.
  • Always keep dogs on a leash and if you encounter a deer, immediately shorten the leash to keep your dog close to you on the far side of the deer. Stop it from barking if you can. DO NOT let the leash go.
  • Walk away in the opposite direction from the deer.

Esquimalt’s second annual deer count underway

As part of Esquimalt’s ongoing efforts to research the current scope of the deer population, the second of three annual deer counts is currently underway using established methodology.

“The research is a vital step to inform any deer management decisions Esquimalt may decide to take,” Kilpatrick explains. “Wildlife biologists tell us that without it, we won’t have an accurate picture of the number of deer, their population, densities or movement patterns, and this information is a necessary and critical component of any deer management program.”

Residents are invited to share photos of deer in their area – forward digital .jpeg pictures with the date and location the deer was seen to info@uwss.ca

For more information about deer initiatives in the Greater Victoria, or tips to reduce human-deer conflict, visit uwss.ca. Learn more about Esquimalt’s deer management initiatives at esquimalt.ca.

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