- The Province is committed to partnering with local governments to facilitate the development of socially acceptable urban deer management solutions.
- In some cities and towns, increasing deer numbers have become a safety concern. Aggressive deer have attacked people and pets, and vehicle accidents involving deer in urban areas are on the rise. Deer also attract potentially dangerous predators, like cougars.
- The Province manages deer in the wild; urban deer are primarily managed by municipalities. The Province encourages local governments to develop detailed deer management plans.
- The Province supports municipalities by providing technical advice, regulatory authority, necessary permits, specialized equipment and other management tools.
- In 2016, B.C. launched an urban deer management program, which provides $100,000 each year to help fund community-based urban deer management projects. The funding follows up on the Province’s pledge – made at the 2015 Union of BC Municipalities annual convention– to set aside annual funding for urban deer mitigation.
- The Province oversees the program with the support of the urban deer advisory committee, which includes representatives from the Province, local governments, Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The committee was created to provide consistent and authoritative support to local governments dealing with urban deer issues.
- There is no simple answer when it comes to managing urban deer, but effective plans usually include a combination of both conflict and population reduction strategies.
- Conflict reduction strategies include the use of deer repellents, landscaping alternatives like deer resistant plantings and fencing, and tactics such as signage to reduce accidents involving deer and motor vehicles.
- Population reduction strategies include lethal removal by culls, while administrative options include updating local bylaws and other regulations and improving public education.
- When a community opts to undertake a limited cull, the following provisions are followed:
- As part of their deer management plans, communities must make full use of healthy deer carcasses resulting from these culls, for example by donating the meat to First Nations, local food banks or other charitable groups.
- Wildlife experts advise that capturing deer in modified collapsible clover traps and euthanizing them with a bolt gun is the safest, most efficient and most humane method of deer control in urban areas.
- Modified clover traps, which resemble oversized hockey nets, are placed in secluded locations to reduce stress on deer. To further reduce stress, deer are not trapped during daylight.
- Culls are conducted by trained contractors and meat must be processed by a qualified butcher. Organizations accepting wild game meat may distribute it to the public but may not sell it.
Other strategies that the Province is often asked about are translocation and fertility control.
- Translocation refers to the capture and relocating of urban deer to more remote areas.
- Provincial wildlife biologists have reservations about the effectiveness and humaneness of deer translocation. Historically, attempts at translocation have had poor results. Capture, transportation, release and adapting to a new habitat – all these things put a deer’s health and safety at risk.
- Translocation also increases the risk of disease transmission among deer populations.
- Recently new methods have reduced some of the health and welfare issues associated with translocation; some of these methods will be used in an upcoming trial project with mule deer in the East Kootenay.
- Provincial biologists will closely monitor deer after relocation. If the project has a positive impact, it may provide communities with another strategy for dealing with the problem of urban deer.
- Fertility control does not reduce the population immediately. If immediate population reduction is desired, other techniques (such as culling) must be implemented as a component of the overall management action.
- For any long-term change in population numbers and growth, 70-90% of females must be captured, treated by fertility control and monitored.
- Immunocontraceptives are not routinely available and their use is limited to research and controlled by Health Canada.
- Females can be surgically sterilized, but this procedure is invasive, complicated and only possible under strict research protocols.
How can you help reduce urban deer?
- Do not feed deer. They have ample food supply in the wild, and supplementing this natural food supply not only attracts and holds deer in the area but can trigger an unsustainable population increase.
- Properly fence off your fruit trees and gardens.
- Keep shrubs and other plans trimmed. Deer require cover to safely travel through communities and bed down.
- Use motion-activated lights and sprinklers to startle deer and dissuade them from coming into your yard.
- Chase deer away from your property. They are seeking a safe haven, and avoid places that have proven to be stressful in the past.
- Avoid having fruit trees in your yard. If you do have fruit trees, trim lower branches to discourage deer from feeding and remove all windfalls from your yard promptly.
- In winter, cover shrubs and trees with burlap or plastic sheeting. This creates a barrier that prevents deer from browsing in your yard.
- Plant less palatable species: deer have an aversion to blue spruce, juniper or paper birch bushes, and certain perennials like mint and columbine. Consult your local nursery to discuss regional options.