Most people I talk to agree we need to reduce the deer population in Oak Bay. I agree. People care about their gardens and nobody wants to collide with a deer making its way across a public road. So we need to reduce the deer herd and citizens need to feel assured of their safety. To follow is an overview of what steps Council has taken.
In 2014 Oak Bay Council addressed the increasing population of deer in Oak Bay. At the time the only option available was to cull since the Province would not permit translocating or inoculation. The cull turned out to be expensive, ineffective, and divisive. One of the unique and key challenges for Oak Bay is that there is no will from Victoria and Saanich (from where the deer are migrating) to work collaboratively on this project. This means there will continue to be a constant flow of deer— attracted to our parks and gardens— migrating into Oak Bay. What we can do is address the overpopulation by reducing the deer herd to manageable levels. Everything the province will allow us to do we are doing.
So in 2016, recognizing the challenges of a cull the Province agreed to permit an innovative approach by inoculating the deer with a contraception. Oak Bay Council partnered with the Province and Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS) to implement a program that is evidence-based and involves public education. The program begins with data collection and analysis to monitor deer movements and ecology. Then, in Fall of 2018, an immuno-contraception program for the doe population is planned.
The scientists believe that this is our best option given our unique topography and circumstances. I believe this approach strikes a balance between citizen quality of life/safety and a humane, affordable, and effective intervention to manage the deer herd in the community. We will need to monitor this program and should the program not work then we will find one that does.