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Group protests new cull vote

Carolyn Grant

Members of the BC Deer Protection Society, which was formed in Invermere and involved in a lawsuit against the District of Invermere against its deer cull, attended Kimberley City Council on Monday evening to protest as Council voted for a cull of a total of 30 deer.

They sat silently, holding signs, as Council approved the cull, and left quietly after the vote.

They left behind a letter, signed by society director Devin Kazakoff, in opposition to the decision.

After the meeting, Sherry Shrieves, who sits on the deer committee, told Council she was disappointed that they didn't ask more questions before they voted for the cull.

"One question is, has the deer committee consulted an ungulate biologist?"

Shrieves says there have been wildlife biologists involved but not one specifically specializing in ungulates.

The Society letter quotes a biologist, Dr. Rick Page, who said that culling simply creates room for more deer from the larger population outside of town to move in.

She also pointed out that the SPCA has never said culling was humane, only that it was done in a professional manner.

Coun. Darryl Oakley said that an SPCA constable was allowed to observe the first cull.

"I pushed hard for that," Oakley said. "This is killing animals; it is heartbreaking. His job was to see if there was suffering."

Coun. Bev Middlebrook asked what exactly the answer was if culling was unacceptable.

"If you don't cull and hazing is not allowed, what do we do? I am a total animal lover but it is also my responsibility as a councillor to see people safe."

"But will the cull really make it any safer?" Shrieves asked. "Can you guarantee safety once you cull?"

"No, you can't guarantee but you can't sit back and let the deer have run of the community either," Middlebrook responded.

"You need to remove food sources," Shrieves said. "The cull won't work without that. You take animals out, more come in.

"Look at Helena, Montana. They have been culling for years. Now they are facing a lawsuit."

Shrieves said that she was a member of the Urban Deer Committee but her perspective was not heard.

"This is an ethical issue. It's not a referendum on how much money you spend to fix the arena. You don't hear my opinion — just the committee recommendations."

The letter to council also said the following:

"The City of Kimberley has no obligation, legal or ethical, to interfere with the wildlife living in and around the city boundaries. Human/wildlife conflict and management is within the jurisdiction of the provincial government. The behaviour of wildlife, within or outside municipal  boundaries, is not your responsibility and risk management is not required. In fact, it is possible that by assuming responsibility, council is exposing Kimberley to liability."

The letter also referred to Kimberley as having gained "notorious status as the town that has killed the most deer in B.C to date".

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