Esquimalt has undertaken several steps in order to gain a better understanding of the numbers of indigenous deer within its borders, and the trends, issues and potential strategies for deer reduction, if necessary.
As part of its Deer Management Plan the Township completed a community survey to identify where the deer are, attitudes towards them, and the location of any human-deer conflicts such as gardening and vehicle-deer accidents. The independent survey was delivered to 1,100 Esquimalt households in October 2016, with a 47% response rate.
Establishing a multi-year, scientifically developed deer count is a critical part of the plan. The first count in Esquimalt was conducted in fall 2017, the second will occur in fall 2018, and the third will be completed in fall 2019. By doing three scientifically valid counts, Esquimalt will establish an accurate estimate of the size of its indigenous deer population and will be able to determine whether the number is stable, increasing, or decreasing. Should a deer reduction strategy be implemented, annual deer counts would be essential in determining the efficacy of that strategy.
Urban deer management can be controversial, but as communities are learning more about indigenous deer, we are also learning how to co-exist. When driving in areas of Esquimalt and other municipalities, it’s important to slow down where you know deer are likely to be present. During fawning and rutting season, it’s important to understand the behaviour of deer and adjust your own accordingly, particularly if you are walking your dog. If you’re concerned about deer that deer frequent your garden, there are a number of gardening and fencing strategies that can help.
For more information on urban deer, contact the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.