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Deer cull in Elkford suspended for one week

Tamara Hynd/Fernie Free Press

Elkford's deer cull has been suspended for one week after the contractor was caught trapping during daylight hours, in violation of permit specifications.

The permit specifies trapping is to take place in pre-dawn hours.

"We take permit violations very seriously," said John Krebs, Regional Manager Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs Kootenay Boundary Region of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  "We suspended the permit yesterday afternoon (January 7) for a period of one week over concerns with the timing of cull operations."

"The Conservation Officer Service will complete an investigation to gather information and determine if enforcement action is appropriate. We will review the suspension in one week to assess next steps."

The District reported that ten deer were harvested on Jan. 6 and 7. All were mule deer in apparently good condition. Two were males and the rest female, with an approximately 50/50 mix of adults and juveniles. The meat will be processed into ground meat and provided to local food banks.

Some Elkford residents do not agree with the District's choice to execute a deer cull to lower the approximate 78-148 mule deer that are inhabiting the town limits. Environmental groups are also voicing their concerns.

"The contract violator had killed 10 deer and should not be permitted to continue to get permits. The permit should be revoked permanently!" stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Foundation, founding director.

B.C. Deer Protection Coalition are holding a spotlight on the Elkford deer cull, making statements that the cull contractor Carmen Purdy of CP Trapping was killing deer in daylight.

However the District of Elkford feels "the urban deer harvest is proceeding well minus the unfortunate issue with the contractor trapping in the day light."

"Unfortunately the contractor did harvest in daylight contrary to the permit requirements," said District CAO Curtis Helgesen. "Due to the extreme cold at the time, the deer were not moving at night and in the daytime they spent less time in the traps, it was felt this was more humane.

"This was an incorrect decision based on the permit requirements, and the District is cooperating with the province as they investigate the issue."

Any animal cull is controversial as the District of Elkford is finding out.

"The community has mixed feelings," said Helgesen, "but as before the harvest, the majority appears to be in support of the operation with phone calls and emails of support, while the minority is being more vocal on social media.

"Unfortunately the facts are suffering due to the exaggeration of the issues by outside interests, but we are confident that most in Elkford support this operation as being what is best for the urban deer population in the long term."

The District of Elkford began culling mule deer under the licence issued by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Operations. The license allows the District to kill up to 50 mule deer with the use of a clover trap and bolt gun with several guidelines and legislation attached to the 14 page permit.

As the permit holder, the District must maintain an up-to-date record of the deer harvested. Information required is an ID number, species, date the wildlife was taken, location, gender, age, health status and the use of the carcass.  A final report must be submitted to the Permit and Authorization Service Bureau within 21 days of the permit's expiry on March 10, 2014.

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