Council eyeing deer cull permit

Cull permit just one of many tools to manage urban deer populations, no guarantee a cull will or won't occur in the future.

City Council is eyeing up another wildlife permit to keep the option open for a cull in the fall.

City Council is eyeing up another wildlife permit to keep the option open for a cull in the fall.

The City of Cranbrook is pledging to continue it’s partnership with the province and the urban deer management advisory committee as it moves in to 2016, after receiving an annual urban deer management report for the 2015 calendar year on Monday evening.

The city is also continuing to monitor the urban deer population numbers and aggressive deer complaints within city limits and is not ruling out the possibility of another cull in the fall, according to councillor Tom Shypitka.

“As far as deer management is concerned with the City of Cranbrook, we’re allowed so many tools and we try to utilize those tools. We’ve been informed by the public that there is a problem in the city.

Some don’t agree, but most do, so the tools afforded by the province are limited.

One of them is culling, we’re actually going through a deer relocation project right now, which is seemingly successful; we don’t have all the data in, but when we do, we’ll make it public and let everybody know.”

Shypitka put a motion forward asking city staff to look at applying for another wildlife permit for the fall, to add another option for population management if the city so decides to carry out another cull in the future.

“As far as the motion I was putting forward today on another application for the deer cull—yes, I’d like to see an application go through,” Shypitka said, after the meeting. “Whether we act on it or not is up to us, I guess.

“I think it’s important that we use the tools that are afforded to us, because they might not be here forever; that’s what I’m hearing right now, is that culling might not be available in the future.

“We’ve got an issue, we got to take care of it.”

Councillor Isaac Hockley noted during the meeting that the discussion on applying for a wildlife permit should be held by the Urban Deer Management Committee first, before the city decides on pursuing the permit.

The Urban Deer Management annual report highlighted initiatives such as data monitoring, including deer counts and complaints, and a deer cull—carried out in late 2015—carried out by the city over the year.

The city culled 20 deer—13 mule deer and seven white-tail deer—from Dec. 1, 2015 to Jan. 13, 2016 using clover traps to trap the deer and a bolt gun to euthanize them. Total cost of the cull was $10,374, translating into $494 per animal and all the meat butchered locally and distributed to the food bank, Street Angels and the Salvation Army.

In addition to the cull, the city also fronted $10,000 towards an Urban Deer Translocation Trial—a study carried out by Vast Resource Solutions in partnership with Kimberley, Elkford, Invermere, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, among other stakeholders.

Vast Resource Solutions reported relocating 60 deer to winter ranges, while attaching 29 radio collars to monitor their movement.

“There’s still some data to come back from the province and our committee itself. The relocation project, we’re looking at the data from the collars, how long these animals are staying alive, where they’re migrating to, just their pattern and whether it’s a viable option,” said Shypitka.

In terms of the deer counts and complaints, the City reports 137 urban mule deer within city limits in November 2015—an increase 33 as reported from December 2014.

The report noted that the city received 18 aggressive deer complaints in 2015, adding that the RCMP and the Conservation Officers Service (COS) killed 22 injured deer.