Provincial grant money will fund the Oak Bay Urban Deer Research immuno-contraception project in 2020. (Black Press File Photo)

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

The deer vaccination program will continue in Oak Bay in 2020 as the province approved $42,366 in funding on Monday.

As expected, Oak Bay will receive $42,366 from a grant request made to the Provincial Urban Deer Cost-Share Program in the fall of 2019. The money supports the next phase of the Oak Bay deer management strategy, led by the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s research and immuno-contraception. It’s a partnership that’s existed since 2016.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the province and the UWSS to further advance solutions to reduce and manage the urban deer population,” said Mayor Kevin Murdoch.

READ MORE: Video: On the hunt for Oak Bay’s most wanted

In 2019 more than 650 Oak Bay property owners volunteered access to their properties so the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society crew could tag and inject does with the immuno-contraceptive. In all, 80 does who mostly reside in Oak Bay have been tagged with coloured collars and 60 of them were inoculated in 2019 to prevent them from breeding for one year. The remaining 20 are tracked with GPS collars but were not administered the contraceptive as part of a control group.

Last year the province granted $31,560 which Oak Bay matched from its own budget. Assuming it is approved in this year’s financial draft, Oak Bay will match the $42,300, and add $200 plus $11,300 from reserves to bring the 2020 total to $96,100.

In 2020 the project will re-mark the control group, re-booster the 60 does with the vaccination and mark and vaccinate more does with the contraception, all while collecting and further analyzing data.

To date, Oak Bay is one of the few districts in B.C. to access the province’s urban deer cost-share money. Mayne Island and Cranbrook have also received money.

In September, Esquimalt led an effort by eight Greater Victoria municipalities, Saanich, Victoria, North Saanich, Sidney, View Royal, Oak Bay and Colwood, in requesting a meeting with Minister Doug Donaldson of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Developments. The meeting would include the mayors of all eight municipalities to discuss a regional effort for deer management and to participate in the deer contraceptive program underway in Oak Bay.

But the province, responding through Jennifer Psyllakis, director of the Wildlife and Habitat Branch, said it needs evidence from the Oak Bay program to “determine if the program is successful and suitable for broader expansion…”

READ MORE: Last year Oak Bay and Saanich collected 380 dead deer

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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