Deer cull complete, City announces

Twenty-four mule deer killed in Cranbrook’s limits using clover traps over 18 days in February

After 18 days of trapping, Cranbrook’s second urban deer cull is finished, the city announced Thursday.

In a statement released February 28 by Corporate Communications Officer Chris Zettel, the city said that 24 mule deer were captured and killed: seven adult bucks, 10 adult does, and seven yearlings.

Five whitetail deer were also captured, but released unharmed on instruction by the city and provincial wildlife biologists.

The City of Cranbrook’s lengthy statement revealed information previously withheld from the public for public safety reasons when the second cull was announced February 14.

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued a wildlife permit to the City of Cranbrook in November 2012, expiring March 15, 2013, allowing the cull of up to 30 urban deer.

Some time after that, council held a closed meeting where it approved recommendations by the Urban Deer Management Advisory Committee. As well as approving the cull at this meeting, council approved the strategic locations where the clover traps were to be placed. These locations were chosen based on complaints about aggressive deer received in 2012, deer population counts conducted in 2012, and priority areas identified by the Conservation Officer Service.

In early January, the City of Cranbrook approached four possible contractors who had expressed interest in conducting the cull. Two of those contractors submitted a quote, and one was chosen, though the city’s statement does not say who that contractor was.

Council approved a budget of up to $15,000 to carry out the cull, which works out to be approximately $625 for each deer. This cost includes placement and tear down of each clover trap, purchase of bait and supplies, liability insurance, provincially mandated equipment training, mileage, vehicle cleaning, processing, packaging and distribution of the meat and administrative costs.

The cull began on Thursday, February 7, 2013, the city’s statement reveals, and was completed on Thursday, February 28.

All of the euthanized deer were processed by a qualified butcher in a provincially approved facility, and the meat was distributed to two local organizations for human consumption. The statement does not say which organizations received the meat.

There were two incidents were members of the public interfered with the cull, the city said. The first occured overnight on Tuesday, February 19, when two clover traps were vandalized.

The traps, which belong to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, were placed on City of Cranbrook property. The heavy netting on the traps was deliberately cut, making the traps unusable. The cost of repairs is estimated at $800 and the RCMP is continuing to investigate.

In another incident on the evening of Tuesday, February 26, according to the city’s statement, the contractor saw a man standing on private property, videotaping a deer inside a trap. The contractor asked the man to leave the property. He did, but remained on the sidewalk continuing to videotape the deer. The contractor left, but when he returned an hour later the man was still on the sidewalk videotaping. The contractor continued with his work, then left the scene.

“Going forward, we look to work in partnership with the province through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, in conjunction with the Urban Deer Management Advisory Committee, to secure additional tools to help manage the urban deer population in Cranbrook,” said Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski.

“Those tools could include, but is not limited to the opportunity to undertake hazing, translocation and/or fertility drugs. We will also be exploring setting up a fund to help pay for some of these alternative population control methods, assuming they are approved, as they will be expensive. This will hopefully include funding from the province and by special interest groups. I look forward to beginning those discussions.”

This was the second urban deer cull conducted in Cranbrook. In November 2011, Cranbrook culled 25 urban deer – 11 white-tail and 14 mule – using clover traps.

It was the first of three East Kootenay communities to carry out a cull.

Kimberley culled 100 deer in January 2012, and Invermere was set to cull 100 deer in February 2012 before a court injunction put a hold on the plans. Eventually Invermere was able to cull just 19 deer before its permit expired. A civil suit between the Invermere Deer Protection Society and the District of Invermere is ongoing in B.C. Supreme Court.