The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society and the Township of Esquimalt remind residents to be extra cautious as they drive, cycle and explore during fawning season. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society and the Township of Esquimalt remind residents to be extra cautious as they drive, cycle and explore during fawning season. (Black Press Media file photo)

Esquimalt likely two years from starting deer birth control efforts

The Township needs provincial approval before more impactful steps are taken

Esquimalt is likely to wait another two years before taking any action in deer population management.

At Monday night’s council meeting, council heard from deer management experts including Kristy Kilpatrick from the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS), which has been working for the past three years to help run the pilot immuno-contraceptive (IC) program in Oak Bay.

The UWSS team has been working with experts to analyze the deer population, and began inoculating 60 does in the fall after a year-long delay. In order for the inoculation to happen, the researchers needed permission from local First Nations, a request that had to be put forward by the province. The province took more than a year to complete this task, which allowed the UWSS to further study the migration patterns and demographic trends of the area’s deer population.

READ MORE: Esquimalt considers birth control for its deer population

The inoculation is a new research project approved by the province as an experimental way to control the deer population after it was discovered that neither culling nor trans-location, the two provincially-approved tactics, were effective measures for managing the population.

“It’s important to remember that deer management is not synonymous with deer reduction,” Kilpatrick said. “The pilot project is multi-layered, complex and provides information never collected before.”

The team used camera traps and GPS collars to keep track of the deer, which also includes 17 control does which were not inoculated.

A combined analysis of the numbers since 2016 found that the Oak Bay deer population was much less than the previously estimated 500, and was actually closer to 100. Of the 100 deer, only one tick carrying Lyme Disease was found.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria municipalities hope for region-wide effort to control deer population

Now researches must wait until spring to see if the fawning season is affected by the inoculations, and put forward a proper analysis of the results. If it proves effective, the findings will need to be submitted to the province in hopes of being approved as a viable deer management tactic, meaning that at the earliest Esquimalt would be able to apply for the measure in 2022.

Kilpatrick said she wouldn’t recommend that the Township apply to conduct the experiment before the Oak Bay process is complete.

“Until you know if IC is effective, there’s no point in doing it,” she said.

In the meantime, local experts concluded that the deer population in Esquimalt is also less than originally considered. Kevin Pons, project manager for the Esquimalt deer survey, combined three years’ worth of surveys to calculate that the deer population is between 93-125 deer, with the most likely number sitting at 125.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria mayors reach urban deer standstill with province

The population, Pons said, has remained “relatively stable” over the past three years, with the largest migration areas including the Gorge Vale Golf Club, the Rock Heights and Parkland areas and the northern part of the Esquimalt Village zone.

CFB Esquimalt has yet to release its most up-to-date report, but numbers were last estimated at 40 deer per square kilometre.

Pons recommended that in the interim between starting inoculation that Esquimalt continue monitoring the populations, as well as set up camera traps and have more public education and signage in areas of higher deer density.

“We will continue to move forward,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. “Around the hotspots we have an opportunity with the Bloom and Beautiful [Garden Tour Event] to create an action around that for gardeners to see if we could target those hot spots, and if would make a difference. So, we can be creative as we wait.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Esquimaltoak bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Council has recommended that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) approve a cannabis retail application by Buds Cannabis. It plans to open the store in the 9700-block of Second Street. It would be the business’ second outlet (it has an outlet in Central Saanich) and the second such business in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney recommends approval of licence for second pot shop

Councillors also push back against public concerns about Sidney’s image

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read