Love is in the air for Vancouver Island deer as it’s rutting season.
“Rutting season is essentially mating season,” said Kristy Kilpatrick, president of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS). “It’s when the male bucks, the indigenous Columbian black-tailed deer, look for mates with the does in the area.”
Islanders are used to seeing the animals out and about. Oak Bay has approximately 100 deer.
When the bucks are chasing romance, however, they stop at nothing.
“They’re pretty single-minded and when they are in an area where there are does, they’re going to be very much focused on that,” explained Kilpatrick.
They lose all sense of their “street smarts” and their behaviour changes during the rutting season. They may run out into the road while you’re driving or cycling at any time of the day. The best way to keep them and yourself safe, Kilpatrick said, is to slow down and be aware, no matter the form of transportation.
“If you see a doe run out, you can be pretty sure if she’s running out suddenly, that there’ll be a buck following,” she explained. “So stop. Stop and wait for the buck to go across.”
Dogs, no matter the size, should be kept close and on a leash. If not, your dog may run towards the deer and bark.
“If you see a buck, pick your dog up if it’s small, pull it in close to you if it’s larger and just cross the street,” Kilpatrick said. “And just give the buck, or doe, plenty of space.”
Kilpatrick added pet owners should always make sure to check their yards for deer if they are known to frequent the area before letting their dogs out. The buck will see the dog as a predator who is running towards it and barking. This, in turn, will trigger the buck’s flight response.
A deer’s natural response to danger is to run, so they always need an escape route.
“When they run, their heads can go down and the antlers can be dangerous,” she explained. “So just to know they’re not charging you, but that’s why it’s really important to give them lots and lots of space.”
Rutting season usually runs its course by the end of November.