Study moves Oak Bay, B.C., closer to contraceptive control for problem deer

By Canadian Press
February 20, 2019 - 10:59am Updated: February 20, 2019 - 5:23pm

OAK BAY, B.C. — A contraception program to reduce the population of habituated, urban deer is one step closer in the Victoria-area District of Oak Bay.

Councillors have reviewed a report compiled with research using GPS-collars, a network of 34 cameras and statistical methods to establish total numbers and where and when deer like to roam.

The report says between 78 and 128 black tail deer live in the affluent beach-side community, known for its expensive homes and cultivated gardens.

The deer count will be sent to provincial officials, clearing the way for the start of the contraception program. 

Mayor Kevin Murdoch says the province wanted proof of the number of deer because the use of birth control on wild animals is still considered experimental and requires supporting data in order to receive funding.

Oak Bay already has a permit to inoculate 80 deer with contraceptives this year and expects to begin the work this summer.

The district has previously tried culling the animals but the report, presented Tuesday, says there is a lack of evidence to support that idea as a long-term management strategy.

"Immunocontraceptive vaccination may offer a feasible alternative to culls by reducing fawning rates and hence overall deer population over time," the report says.

A contraceptive for nuisance bird populations such as pigeons has been available in Canada since 2017.

Earlier this month, Metro Vancouver's transit authority installed automated bird feeders at several Vancouver SkyTrain stations distributing corn laced with a contraceptive that temporarily renders pigeons infertile, if they eat it every day.

Pigeon excrement is a problem at some SkyTrain stations and the birds can also interfere with sensors that ensure people or objects are not blocking SkyTrain tracks. (CFAX)

The Canadian Press

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