Complaints prompt deer cull debate

Cranbrook city council seemed to be tipping back into favour of an urban deer cull at Monday's meeting.

Cranbrook city council seemed to be tipping back into favour of an urban deer cull as councillors commented on a letter of complaint from a resident of Terra Lee Terrace.

In the letter Norm Yurchyshyn talks about the mule deer congregating around the grounds. He requests a cull as some of the elderly residents are afraid to go outside because of those deer.

Coun. Gerry Warner expressed his strong support for a cull.

“I think it’s a ludicrous situation, when we have seniors living in an apartment, as old as 96 years, and they are afraid to go out of their house to whatever degree,” Warner said. “If and when we get to culling again I think we should try to target some of these specific herds that hang out in specific areas.”

Warner also wondered whether focusing on those groups might mean less culling in the future, as it would eliminate problem deer.

Coun. Bob Whetham said he appreciated receiving letters from the public concerning urban deer. Whetham, who is on the Cranbrook Urban Deer Management committee, said the committee makes its recommendations to council based on complaints like the ones in the letter.

The committee met on Tuesday to discuss last week’s deer count, in which the city is split into various zones and the deer counted by volunteers all over the city at the same time. The count gives an idea of the minimum number of deer in the city at the time.

“The basis of the recommendations made to council, just the same as we did in previous culls, was directed at certain specific zones where we had complaints and where we had high numbers of deer,” he said.

Coun. Diana J. Scott was happy to see deer culls being implemented in this way.

“They do work and it is part of a long-term plan,” Scott said. “If you can cull a few in the targeted areas where they are a problem, and we can accomplish that, we will be culling fewer to come and they will also not be habituated.”

She was also glad to hear the conversation taking place.

“Six months ago it was a totally opposite conversation around this table,” she said.

Coun. Denise Pallesen commented that when the city does a cull all of the meat from the deer does not go to waste.

“It goes to First Nations, the Salvation Army… it’s all used. We don’t just destroy them and throw it out,” Pallesen said.

Coun. Warner also put forward a resolution asking that the city meet with MLA Bill Bennett to see how the province can help on the deer front. Council put the resolution on hold because it is still waiting for an update from Minister Steve Thomson, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, regarding a provincial task force to look into potential changes to wildlife legislation and how it deals with urban deer.