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VIDEO: B.C. bucks lock antlers in battle for mating dominance

Steer clear of male deer during rutting season, now through December
Resident Brian Eccles says bucks are common visitors, that he frequently photographs, in his Oak Bay yard. (Photos by Brian Eccles)

This time of year male deer tend to be single-minded about trying to establish dominance while looking for females.

During the fall mating or rutting periods, bucks increase displays of dominance and indirect threats, the Capital Regional District notes in its wildlife information. A dominant buck typically circles a rival with deliberate steps, back arched, head low and tail flicking. They also display dominance by thrashing the bushes with their antlers.

Oak Bay resident Brian Eccles captured one such dramatic display on video – a pair of bucks engaged in a head-to-head fight.

It can be dangerous to get in the way, which is why the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society (UWSS) recommends minimizing the chance of surprise encounters.

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The long-debated ungulate population in Greater Victoria gave rise to the UWSS in 2015. The citizen science group launched specifically to pursue a non-lethal and science-based approach to managing the deer population in Oak Bay. UWSS has tracked the population and its movements dosed does with birth control. It reports reducing the population from about 100 adult deer to about 60 between 2019 and 2021. UWSS is also administering an immunocontraceptive to female deer in Esquimalt as part of a population control program there.

RELATED: Group pitches contraception program for deer

They also provide critical advice on dealing with deer in the community. While bucks are only interested in other deer, it’s best to steer clear and leave an escape route; keep dogs on a leash and if you encounter a deer, shorten the lead and try to keep the dog from barking, while backing away to give the animal more distance.

The organization suggests drivers, cyclists and others should pay particular attention around dawn and dusk, when deer tend to be more active.

Rutting season runs late October through December, then pregnancy lasts 180 to 200 days, and while younger does give birth to one fawn, does between the ages of three to nine years old often have twins. Then comes the second season of deer concern, when mother deer can become aggressive to defend fawns.

RELATED: Oak Bay still seeks long-term deer management plan

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Brian Eccles recorded the buck battle for mating supremacy in his Oak Bay yard. (Photo by Brian Eccles)

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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