About 30 people with signs bearing slogans such as “stop Invermere deer cull — ‘kill'” rallied at Kinsmen Beach on the afternoon of February 2, and protest organizers say more action is on the way as the community’s cull of up to 100 deer draws nearer.
“We’re running out of time,” Vince Zurbriggen told The Echo a few hours before the protest was set to begin. The longtime resident is part of a group of deer supporters who came together after a public debate on the cull at Invermere’s last district council meeting.
Zurbriggen said the group of residents behind the protest had hoped to bring national attention to the cull, by getting in on the filming of a Discovery Channel segment set to shoot on the Whiteway that day.
“We need exposure. We were not getting anywhere, and if we have a protest that’s peaceful it’s on the map,” he said. “Oh in Invermere, they have a nice Whiteway, but they’re going to shoot 100 deer.”
The group didn’t get its wish, however, as film crews spent most of the afternoon on Lake Lillian, doing close-up work that the slushier Lake Windermere didn’t allow for. Instead, protesters posed for a few photos before heading downtown with its signs.
Zurbriggen said the group, which has met several times to discuss opposition to the cull, isn’t necessarily opposed to dealing with individual, problem deer.
But many are worried the cull could become a yearly event, and want to see council and the B.C. government look at other solutions.
“The deer cull seems to be the easy way out…” he said. “We thought that maybe if we make a stand here that the province and government and the councillors would take a look.”
But councillor Paul Denchuk, who came to observe the protest, said he’s not swayed by the rally.
“We (district council) still think that the majority of people in town support it. I think the turnout here today confirms it for me,” he said. “Twenty to thirty people are not going to change my mind.”
Denchuk was also critical of the group’s plans to protest during the filming of the Whiteway, but said he does support “their right to gather peacefully and protest.”
“I’ve told several members of this group that if they really want to be productive and make something happen for themselves, they should really start a petition,” he said. “I’ll take a petition into consideration, absolutely, so long as it has an adequate number of names on it.”
Zurbriggen said the group does have more plans, but wants to make sure they’ll actually have an effect before moving forward.
“We are exploring legal options to stop it. That’s all I can tell you,” he said.