Urban Deer in Esquimalt

Local deer

Black-tailed deer thrive near forest edges, as they prefer the underbrush for foraging, yet still capitalize on the cover these areas provide. Because of this, wooded suburban environments like golf courses, parks, and roadside green belts are especially utilized by black-tailed deer. Their main food item is browse (the growing tips of trees and shrubs) but will also consume fruit, nuts, acorns, fungi, and lichens.

The best way to avoid potential conflict with deer is to avoid attracting them in the first place. To discourage deer from bedding down:

  • Don’t feed deer: don’t leave food out for deer, keep pet food indoors, clean up fallen fruit & birdseed, selective deer-resistant planting
  • Prevent access: repair holes in fencing, use garden barriers around accent plants or fruit trees, repellents, noisemakers, and scarecrows all dissuade use of your yard

More information about urban deer in Esquimalt and in Greater Victoria: https://uwss.ca/

The Township of Esquimalt and the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS) have partnered to implement a science-based urban deer management strategy for the municipality with funding assistance and permit approvals from the Province of BC. 

Urban deer study 

After the prescribed three-year deer survey and in consultation with local First Nations, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development has granted the permit required to participate in studying the efficacy of immunocontraception on deer.  

The research is being done by the University of Victoria Applied Conservation Macro Ecology (ACME) Lab in partnership with the township.

In 2021, researchers successfully tagged 20 control deer and administered immunocontraception to 40 deer. Female deer were tagged by darting rather than using any physical traps. 
Detections of marked control deer help researchers determine the Esquimalt urban deer population size. In September-October 2022, up to 40 female deer were captured and treated with an immunocontraception (IC) vaccination.

This fall 2023, previously treated deer will be given an IC booster vaccine. 

Please fill out the online survey at your earliest convenience to let the research team know if you would like to grant access to your property, or send an email if you have any questions. The researchers work from 6:30 a.m. to noon.

Sign up to allow researchers to tag deer on your property

More information about the progress of the study can be found at acmelab.ca/esquimaltdeer. Questions or concerns can go to 778-729-2509 or [email protected]

Urban deer in Esquimalt

Columbian black-tailed deer are native to BC, ranging from the central coast of BC along the coastline into California. They’re part of the natural environment that makes Esquimalt such an extraordinary place to live.

Black-tailed deer thrive near forest edges, using the underbrush for foraging and cover. Wooded urban environments like golf courses, parks and roadside greenbelts are common places to find them making them a common sight in Esquimalt. 

Human-deer conflicts

Due to the abundance of deer in Esquimalt, you may come across them in your backyard,  or while walking, cycling and driving. There are several ways to reduce the impacts of these conflicts like making your yard deer-resistant, slowing down in areas where deer are frequent, and understanding how to react when encountering a deer. More information can be found here.

Injured or deceased deer

If you find an injured deer, contact Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society or BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC).

If you find a deceased deer on your property, you are responsible for having it removed and disposed of. Contact your preferred waste removal company.

If you find a deceased deer on municipal property, please contact Esquimalt public works at 250-414-7108 or submit the information online.


Residents that would like to erect a sign on their property to warn drivers of potential deer conflicts can pick up a "Caution - Expect Deer" sign at Municipal Hall or the Public Works yard.

For more information on human-wildlife conflicts, please see the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society or BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) websites.