Make deer birth control available across the region, say Esquimalt Mayor and Victoria councillor

WatchBirth control for deer is a bit of an experiment. Oak Bay is waiting to begin their immuno-contraceptive pilot project this fall. But now regional mayors and councillors are hoping to press the province to launch a region-wide effort to manage the problem. Kori Sidaway has more.

It’s a lawn ornament many don’t want: deer.

And as the populations of both people and deer increase in the CRD, so have the problems.

“If we’re out cycling, well they’re erratic because you never know if they’re going to cross the road, or if there’s one or two or three,” said Oak Bay resident Sharon O’Dornan.

The deer issue has been longstanding for many communities on the South Island, and now, some of the region’s mayors’ have had enough.

“The challenge of urban deer is one that everybody has struggled with,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins.

Victoria city councillors are also adding their voices to call on the province to step in and formalize a deer strategy for the entire CRD.

“Deer don’t know boundaries,” said Victoria councillor Charlayne Thorton-Joe.

“So Oak Bay may solve their problem, but there’s not stopping Victoria deer from going into Oak Bay and vice versa. So we would like to be at the table to discuss deer management as a region.”

They’re hoping to follow Oak Bay’s cutting edge birth control pilot program that’s set to begin in the fall.

“This is the first one that’s ever been done with extensive research,” said Kristy Kilpatrick with the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.

But the efficacy of Oak Bay’s program hasn’t been fully tested, and the province is hesitant to jump ahead.

“The province understands the concerns regarding deer populations within the South Island and encourages local governments to submit their detailed management plans for partnership funding consideration,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.

“No application to the program has been received from Victoria or Esquimalt to date.”

As of right now, that provincial funding application takes four years, and many municipalities say they don’t have the budget for the population studies that are required within that timeframe.

“We don’t want to get rid of deer,” said Desjardins.

“What we want to do is to make it so it’s an acceptable level for the safety of both the deer and residents”

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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