The hunt for Oak Bay’s most wanted is running out of time.
The deer contraceptive program has run successfully to date with 60 does tagged and inocculated this fall. The program then relies on a second booster, and so far, 57 of the 60 have been located and hit with the booster.
This year’s program ends on Oct. 31.
After an unlucky outing on Wednesday, the veterinarian in charge of inoculating the deer, Adam Hering, had a fruitful Thursday, catching two more.
|The Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society is on the lookout for the last three deer as part of the contraception program. The goal is to find Nos. 7, 34 and 55 to administer the secondary booster. (Image and illustration by UWSS)
That leaves three does still in need of the secondary booster, Hering said.
“Each ear tag also has a number from one to 60,” Hering said. “There is a control group that we tagged in 2018 [and track with GPS]. They are not vaccinated.”
The deer are tagged with bright colours for identification using a colour combination so they know which animal is which, Hering said.
On Thursday, Hering caught No. 44 with her pink ear tag and blue collar.
That leaves No. 7, 34 and 55 as the most wanted.
No. 7 has yellow tags and a blue and black striped collar and lives near Henderson Road. No. 34 has white tags and a white collar and lives in South Oak Bay. No. 55 has green tags and no collar, and lives by the intersection of Uplands and Lansdowne roads.
“Every day that we’re working, we just drive the streets of an area, looking for that individual deer,” Hering said. “I only have a few hours each day. If they aren’t out on the road, I probably won’t find them. Usually it’s pretty easy.”
Hering works for UWSS and has been in charge of the administering the contracptive program in Oak Bay since the beginning. He wears a yellow vest, he carries a modified 22 calibre rifle that is set up to fire darts, and he cruises the town in a modest Toyota SUV that’s seen better days. While the initial dart process included sedating the deer, and tagging it with an identifiable collar and ear tags, the secondary booster is more just a pain in the ass (for the dear) as Hering just needs to hit it the once.
“Throughout the process so far we haven’t lost a single dart,” Hering said. “I only shoot from about 20 yards or closer, and never with a house or car or anything in the background behind the deer except for a garden or a fence. And the darts have always fallen out and been retrieved.”
Most deer will give Hering a minute or two before they become skeemish.
It’s not just the deer that are sometimes concerned, as some residents are unaware of the program and will phone the police to report a man with a rifle.
“Some people call Oak Bay police that there’s a man with a gun in their neighbourhood, and [the police] have my cell phone, they call me to confirm that it’s me,” Hering said. “Most people know about the program.”
It helps that the homeowners of 650 properties have granted permission for UWSS to access the yard.
“One thing people should know is I don’t shoot from far away,” Hering said. “I only shoot from about 20 yards or closer. And I never shoot a dart with a house or anything [at all vulnerable] in the background behind the deer. Ideally, the deer is in front of a fence.”
Next week Oak Bay council will vote to submit a bid to the province to continue funding in 2020.
“If you see one of these does, call me (at 250-880-3593),” Hering said.