British Columbia

Problem deer get GPS collars ahead of Oak Bay birth control plan

The war on problem deer in the Victoria suburb continues in new study to track movements using GPS collars and surveillance.

The war on problem deer in the Victoria suburb continues in new study to track movements using GPS collars

New collars will monitor deer movements, contributing to study that will inform a birth control strategy to reduce the overall population. (Shenandoah National Park/Flickr)

Problem deer in Oak Bay, B.C.,  are are the subject a new study that will inform the district's population reduction strategy.

About 20 deer will be outfitted with GPS tracking collars, while multiple surveillance cameras will be posted around the municipality to determine how large the population is, according to Steve Huxter of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

"We just don't know what the deer population is all about," said Huxter. "There's been some effort to try to gauge the population, their inventory, their movement patters — but it's pretty much just anecdotal evidence."

"Unfortunately, they hide in backyards. They're among the trees, so they're difficult to spot."

Huxter says the team will set up 40 motion sensor cameras across the district to hopefully track their movements.

Urban deer are an issue across B.C. where the nimble animals are known to leap fences, mow gardens and plunder bulbs year round. (CBC)

A long-term problem

The deer population has frustrated residents in Oak Bay for years. However, efforts to reduce the population have been controversial.

In 2015, a plan to cull the deer population was widely panned. Consequently, the district made plans to put deer on birth control, but those plans were shelved when the provincial government ordered for further research to be conducted. 

Along with the District of Oak Bay, the province has allocated $40,000 to gather data of the nuisance population.

Huxter says the study marks phase one of the population reduction plan. The second phase will be moving forward with reduction efforts. Huxter says those will likely focus on a renewed attempt at introducing birth control.

"What we hope to do is use an immuno-contraceptive that's a long-term. If we could develop the vaccine properly, it could last for as long as four to five years. This would be a much more efficient way of reducing population levels."

With files from CBC's All Points West

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Oak bay problem deer get GPS collars ahead of birth control plan