Deer Being Tracked with GPS to Potentially Control Population

12 Dec 2017

Many areas of the U.S., particularly the midwestern and eastern regions, have been facing a deer overpopulation problem.  This burgeoning of deer extends to Oak Bay, B.C., where researchers areas are attempting to humanely address the issue by running a new study to track the movements of the nuisance animals with GPS tracking collars.

Approximately 20 wild deer are to be fitted with the tracking devices. Additionally, surveillance cameras are to be placed around the area in an attempt to ascertain the scale of the population. To date, the only evidence of the movements of the animals is anecdotal as deer are timid creatures who’re difficult to spot.

Urban deer present a huge issue throughout B.C. and here in the U.S. as they’re well known to destroy lawns, leap fences and dig up flower beds throughout the year. They are also responsible for deer-vehicle collisions. In fact, the insurance carrier State Farm revealed that drivers in West Virginia top the list in terms of drivers colliding with a deer (or elk or moose), where one out of every 41 drivers in the state had a auto/deer collision claim in 2016.

A wildlife group comprised of zoologists, science advisers from Camosun College and the University of Victoria as well as wildlife biologists, and educators has come together to see what can be done.

The team from the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society has plans to set up 40 motion sensor cameras throughout the district to track the deer and to see where they’re most commonly found. There should be four cameras installed per square kilometer. A Camosun College science adviser is building a grid of common areas of deer traffic so cameras will be placed in the best high traffic locations possible.

The deer have been an issue for homeowners in the area for many years. However, some of the attempts to reduce their population have not been met with much support. For example, in 2015, a plan to cull the deer was rejected by many.

As an alternative, the district planned to put the deer on birth control. This move was eventually postponed when the provincial government ordered further research to be conducted.

$40,000 has been allocated to the data gathering project, with the current study being the first phase of the population reduction plan. The next part involves pushing the reduction efforts forwards. This is most likely to be carried out through again attempting to introducing birth control into the population. The team hopes to use a long-term immuno-contraceptive that will be developed to work for as long as four or five years. Thus, providing a humane and efficient way of keeping population numbers under control.

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