Mayne Island Deer Education Committee

Following a community meeting in September, 2014, the work of the committee dealing with invasive Fallow deer was divided into four groups with responsibility for education, hunters & permits, political lobbying and long term planning.

In March, 2015, members of the committee met with representatives of the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, the Capital Regional District, the Islands Trust and the Ministry of the Environment. The purpose of the meeting was to look at long term solutions to the deer problem since, despite the best efforts of our hunters with special licenses, the Fallow deer population continues to thrive. In the past dozen years, since the special licensing system has been in place, 1,079 Fallow deer have been killed.
As part of the efforts of the Education sub-committee, the following guide to identifying the two deer species is presented to enable residents and visitors to distinguish between them.

Native Blacktail deer and the invasive Fallow deer are distinctly different species. The coat of the Blacktail is generally a uniform brown on the head, back and sides with a lighter shade, almost white, on the belly and throat with a patch framing the distinctive black tail. Adult males typically weigh about 35 kilograms, females 25 kg. Bucks develop forked antlers between April and September, shedding them in late winter. Life expectancy is 6 to 8 years.

Fallow deer exhibit the widest variety of colouration of any species of deer, ranging from very dark brown to nearly white, with many shades and patterns in between. A common variant in the Southern Gulf Islands is the medium brown coat with clearly visible light-coloured spots on the sides and back, some merging into a horizontal line along the flanks between the shoulder and the hind quarter. (Note: a spotted coat is also typical of Blacktail fawns.)

Antlers displayed by male Fallow deer are of a type known as palmate, somewhat resembling those of the moose. As shown in the accompanying illustration, perhaps the most reliable mark of distinction between the two species is the Fallow deer’s black, horseshoe-shaped stripe surrounding the white patch framing the tail. Fallow are larger and heavier than Blacktail and have a slightly longer tail. Males weigh around 60kg, females 40kg. Life span is 12 to 14 years.

For further information please contact Tom Masters

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