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Cranbrook okays 30-deer cull

Up to 30 mule deer will be culled in Cranbrook after the city announced its second round of urban deer population control. - Townsman file photo
Up to 30 mule deer will be culled in Cranbrook after the city announced its second round of urban deer population control.
— image credit: Townsman file photo

A second cull of up to 30 mule deer will be carried out in Cranbrook, the city announced on Thursday.

Council made the decision "after much careful deliberation", reads the statement released by corporate communications officer Chris Zettel.

"Due to concerns around public safety raised both by the RCMP and council, the city will not at this time be providing any additional details surrounding the population reduction activities," reads the statement.

It refers to the population control as "reduction" in the urban deer population and says the measures will "focus on several key areas of the community, based on complaints received both by the city and by the Conservation Officer Service."

The city was granted a permit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in late 2012, it continues.

However, it does not say when or where the cull will be carried out. Council and staff are not answering any questions about the statement nor speaking to the media.

"The city will not at this time be providing any additional details surrounding the population reduction activities. The city will provide a comprehensive review to the public once these activities have been completed," reads the statement.

Yesterday, the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition took out a full-page advertisement in the Townsman, stating "Will Cranbrook kill deer this winter? Rumour says yes."

The advertisement asks Cranbrook residents to call or email the organization if it sees a trap set in the community."If you have a trap in close proximity to your property, grant us access to your property so we can monitor the traps during the night," reads the advertisement.

Colleen Bailey, a spokesperson for the Humane Treatment of Urban Wildlife, which is a member of the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition said the group is against the city's decision.

"We condemn the assertion that public safety is at risk if the city releases any details of the cull. We assert that this is simply being used as an excuse to conduct the entire operation under the cover of secrecy. Opponents of the cull have simply exercised their democratic right to be part of an open and transparent decision making process and this right was removed by council when it held secret meetings and heard from deputants of its own choice," said Bailey.

"We will continue to reach out to the community to tell us where traps are set and we are committed to monitoring the traps during this cull period."

Last April, council approved a second cull of up to 50 deer in Cranbrook. However, Mayor Wayne Stetski told the Townsman in October that the second cull had been put on hold pending legal action over Invermere's cull.

"(Invermere) has been taken to court over the public involvement process that was used by council to make the decision to cull 100 deer in Invermere's case. That process that Invermere used is the same one that all of us used – in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere. So if the court decides there was something inappropriate or perhaps incomplete on that public process, potentially it would impact the future around public processes leading up to whatever decisions councils make," said Mayor Stetski at the time.

In November 2011, Cranbrook culled 25 urban deer — 11 white-tail and 14 mule — using clover traps.

It was the first of three East Kootenay communities to carry out a cull with a license from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Kimberley culled 100 deer in January 2012, and Invermere was set to cull 100 deer in February  2012 before a court injunction put a hold on the plans.

The Invermere Deer Protection Society started a civil suit against the District of Invermere in February 2012, claiming the district did not do enough public consultation prior to decided to carry out a call.

The court injunction halted the cull for much of February, but the society's request to extend the injunction failed and eventually Invermere was able to cull just 19 deer before its permit to euthanize 100 deer expired.

According to a March 2012 issue of the Invermere Valley Echo, Columbia Valley RCMP laid charges in cases where traps were tampered with or deer released from traps during the Invermere cull.

In May, the Supreme Court of B.C. gave permission for the society's civil suit against the district to continue. That case is still before the court. A hearing was set to be held in January, but was delayed.

Despite this legal action, public safety concerns have led the city to proceed with a second cull anyway.

Devin Kasakoff, a spokesperson for the Invermere Deer Protection Society, is questioning why Cranbrook council changed its mind.

"Why was the mayor worried about Invermere's court case in October 2012 and not in February 2013? Nothing has changed. Our case is moving forward," he said in a February 14 press release.

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