When Oak Bay police fielded a report of a man with a rifle out walking on Monday morning it wasn’t exactly a false alarm, but it also wasn’t a real rifle.
It was veterinarian Adam Hering of the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society with the organization’s modified rifle that is used to apply immuno-contraceptives and boosters to adult does in Oak Bay. The program started last year and for the rest of March, Hering and team are doing a re-capture of the control group tagged in 2018, but were never given the contraceptive.
Hering is checking does for pregnancy, and reapplying collars to does from the control group (that weren’t given contraception) that were tagged as part of the control group back in 2018, but which have now lost their tags.
Sixty does were tagged in 2019 and administered the contraceptive. About 17 were in the control group.
“We are hecking all the animals and checking if they are pregnant through a blood test called pregnancy-specific protein B,” Hering said. “At this time of year they are far enough along in pregnancy to detect if they’re pregnant without interfering with the pregnancy.”
Each day before heading out to find deer in Oak Bay, Hering alerts the Oak Bay Police Department as to what neighbourhood he will be in. He also wears a bright yellow vest. Monday wasn’t the first time residents have called the police.
This month’s work is essentially interim. Hering also wanted to respond to public concerns that the collars appeared tight on the animals.
“They public were concerned that collars were too tight and we’re catching some of those animals and making sure the necks haven’t changed size and that collars are not too tight,” Hering said.“We’ve caught 10 and all the collars have been appropriate and not too tight.”
The new collars are even lighter and less cumbersome.
“We think it’s the heavy winter coat that bulges around the collar that may appear to be tight but it’s just the fur but we have seen no evidence of stress, or uncomfort, or that it interferes with their feeding.”
Oak Bay was recently awarded a $42,366 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 which includes a research component.