Vancouver Island municipality hopes contraceptives can curb deer problem

doe and fawn

After a recent poll showed that most Oak Bay residents were unhappy with the deer population, it seemed as though a cull was the only option. But to the delight of deer advocates, the municipality has come up with another solution.

According to a report by CTV News, Oak Bay is now planning to use contraceptives to control their deer problem. The municipality is applying for a $20,000 provincial grant, which will fund a fertility control plan. If the application is approved, Oak Bay would match the grant.

The plan would involve trapping the deer and then injecting them with a contraceptive that would prevent them from breeding for up to five years. Then, hopefully, natural causes would cause the deer population to decrease—though it’s likely a few accidents would also be involved.

“Right now there are approximately 50 deer a year killed on our roads and in our yards and our fences in Oak Bay,” mayor Nils Jensen told CTV News. “So we will see a fairly quick reduction as long as there’s no replacement of those deer.”

The program, which would be run by the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society, may come as a surprise, since the poll showed that most residents approved a cull, as long as it meant fewer deer.

According to an earlier report, more than 400 people took part in the poll and 78 percent of them said they were in favour of the cull. But despite the poll’s strong numbers, the idea did meet some resistance, particularly from long-time deer advocate Kelly Carson. She told reporters that she thought the survey was tampered with, since their was no evidence of where the votes came from.

The contraceptive plan is a welcome, albeit bizarre, compromise. Though as strange as it may sound, it’s not the first time birth control has been considered to curb deer populations. In fact, a town in upstate New York underwent a similar experiment in 2014, when they began injecting local deer with a vaccine that prevented the doe’s eggs from being fertilized.

But if the New York experiment is any indication, it’s a slow process that could take years to fully implement.