Protest planned against urban deer cull decision

A protest is being organized by an animal welfare advocate disappointed in a recent decision by city council to authorize a deer cull for 70 ungulates within municipal boundaries.

Trev Miller, representing the Cranbrook Friends of Animals Society, called the cull a ‘national embarrassment’ and will be organizing a protest at City Hall on Monday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. ahead of the next council meeting.

“Council thinks they’re fooling everyone with platitudes about having no other choice – when there were other options, they still only looked at killing,” said Miller. “Last year they killed three baby deer in clover traps. Any resident who thinks slaughtering three fawns in an area thousands of deer traverse each month makes some difference is a victim of the same bloodlust infecting the mayor and council.”

The city recently received a wildlife permit from the provincial government that will allow for a cull of 60 mule deer and 10 white-tail deer for a total of 70 animals. The province, not individual municipalities, sets the terms of the permit.

“If we slaughter deer in an area, the newly-vacated area is extremely inviting and often the next year there are more animals,” Miller says. “This method of placating interests of certain taxpayers is unsustainable and a national embarrassment that’s making the name Cranbrook synonymous with killing baby deer.”

Under the terms of the wildlife permit, culling is the only population control method available to municipalities — there are no provisions for capture and relocation, or other methods, such as contraceptives, which is currently being studied on Vancouver Island.

During a meeting on Oct. 28, council justified the cull as a public safety issue, pointing to 38 aggressive deer complaints so far this year, one of which included a confirmed case of a dog being killed.

“I say this every year, but from my standpoint, we have to do a cull for the safety of our residents,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, during the discussion. “Plain and simple, safety is number one. Secondly, I have to say, this is not our call. It’s our cull, but it’s not our call. The provincial government is the one that is in control of this, and they say it is their deer and they make the rules.”

This will be the eighth cull in Cranbrook since the city first began tackling urban deer population control in 2011.

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