City acknowledges 20 deer culled

Urban deer population management program ran from Dec. 1, 2015 to Jan 13, 2016 in Cranbrook.

Cranbrook city council officially acknowledged that an urban deer cull was carried out, with 20 deer being captured and euthanized over the last six weeks.

In a media release issued after a city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 18, the city said a wildlife permit was obtained in October and valid until the end of January.

“I am very pleased with the results of this program to manage and control our urban deer situation,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, in the press release. “I know some people do not agree with our program, but in the interest of the protection of citizens’ property and the safety of our residents it had to be done.”

Councillor Wes Graham filled in for Mayor Lee Pratt, who was unable to make the meeting due to illness.

It’s the first public acknowledgement of a cull since the B.C. Deer Protection Society and the Animal Alliance of Canada accused the city of approving and conducting a cull behind closed doors.

The B.C. Deer Protection Society posted video of a deer caught in a clover trap before being shot twice by a bolt gun. Photographs of two other fawns caught in a collapsed clover trap were also posted on their website.

Sherry Adams, a local Cranbrook resident who opposes the cull, said she was disappointed the matter wasn’t discussed vocally during the council meeting.

“It would’ve been nice if they discussed things openly instead of always doing things in-camera,” Adams said. “Democracy is about transparency and that would’ve been nice if the Cranbrook council would do that.”

The program came in at $10,374 under a $15,000 budget, which rounds out to 494 per animal. Built into the cost included overhead such as clover trap setup and takedown, purchase of bait and supplies, packaging and distribution of the meat, and all associated contractor administration costs.

From the 20 deer culled, over 855 pounds of meat was processed by a local butcher, processed in a government-approved facility and distributed to three local organizations for human consumption—all a part of the guidelines within the wildlife permit approved by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Specific areas of the city targeted with clover traps was based on complaints received by staff, along with results from a deer count, which identified 137 urban ungulates. That is the highest result since the city began keeping track of urban deer numbers in 2010.

Though this is the third cull that Cranbrook has conducted, Adams hopes that the city will consider non-lethal actions in the future.

“We want them to stop culling the deer, especially after we’ve shown them evidence that it’s not going the way it’s supposed to be going,” Adams said. “The deer are being treated in an inhumane fashion, as we thought all along, that violations to that permit—that’s not supposed to be happening, so we’d like them to stop culling and commit to some humane management.

“Whether that mean relocation or look more seriously at hazing, I think that’s a good option as well. I think it’s been kind of dismissed by them [council] but if you talk to the people who do it, it can easily be done.”

The City of Cranbrook, along with Kimberley, Sparwood, and Invermere, are participating in a urban deer translocation trial project set for mid-February, which is being conducted by VAST Resource Solutions.

In the same media release that outlined the deer cull details, Pratt said the city remains committed to the project, having kicked in $10,000 last fall.

“The recent population management program was approved and organized before we knew exactly when the translocation trial was going to begin,” says Mayor Pratt. “We have direction from our residents to try to deal with our urban deer population. The current method used to manage deer populations is the only way we are authorized to do that, which is dictated by the Wildlife Act and enforced by MFLNRO.

“It is very important for the public to recognize that this upcoming translocation trial is only a test and was never intended to move a large number of animals from each municipality involved and large numbers of urban deer will still remain in Cranbrook.”