Cranbrook Council ponders Invermere letter

District of Invermere asking for government help with deer cull legal fees

The District of Invermere is hoping to lobby the provincial government to help it pay costs associated with the legal challenge from the Invermere Deer Protection Society. Invermere forwarded the letter to Cranbrook city council, with its primary recipients being Premier Christy Clark and Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

On Monday, January 20, council discussed the matter.

In the letter, Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft notes that the district spent $40,000 on legal fees defending the provincial process.The suit was to decide whether the public process designed by the province, and followed by Invermere, as well as Cranbrook and other communities was appropriate.

Taft wrote: “As we have essentially been defending a process recommended by the province and because our case has had significant interest for and direct impacts on many other communities and jurisdictions facing similar wildlife management issues in British Columbia, we respectfully request your consideration in reimbursing the District of lnvermere for a portion of our legal fees in responding to this lawsuit.”

He was asking for a cost sharing of $20,000 between the province and the municipality.

In addition, Invermere was also asking for the province to consider cost sharing future implementations of deer management options with local governments.

Taft’s letter also noted the municipalities disappointment in hearing about possible changes to provincial legislation dealing with urban wildlife not from the province, but from LifeForce, a lobby group.

“It is alarming that they may have more influence in or connection to changes to legislation then the local governments who are directly impacted by urban deer,” Taft wrote.

The information was first sent to the Union of B.C. Municipalities the day before. Coun. Angus Davis said that this was an issue that the UBCM should be working for the municipalities, not the province.

“We’re paying to belong to that so that they can be the intermediary with the provincial government,” Angus said, adding that the province should have delivered the information to the municipalities involved.

Coun. Gerry Warner agreed with Davis, and also with Taft that it’s a two-way street.

“The only way that these urban deer are going to be dealt with is through a partnership between the municipalities and the province,” he said.

Warner noted that members of council will be meeting with MLA Bill Bennett to talk about the issue.

Taft also worried about the perception of deer hazing, the practice of using trained dogs to move deer out of town, as being a ‘magic cure.’ He said it is expensive compared to traditional trap and culls, and sometimes not feasible depending on location.

For instance, Taft noted that if the municipality is not adjacent to crown land, there is no place to lead the deer.