Invermere council is moving ahead with a cull of up to 100 adult deer within the district’s limits — but only if the majority of council feels the killing process is “humane.”
At its January 6 meeting, council agreed to spend up to $35,000 on deer removal. The cost will cover training, administration of the cull, and also payments to contractor Larry Mullikin for “trapping, euthanizing, gutting and skinning,” according to a staff report. Of that sum, Mullikin will receive $300 plus HST per deer.
At the suggestion of councillor Paul Denchuk, council also inserted a clause in Mullikin’s contract that will allow it to cancel the cull outright if the majority of members feel the method used to put the deer down is inhumane.
“I do think the cull needs to happen,” said Denchuk. “I just think if we observe, it may put to rest some of the fears of those who do oppose it.”
It was a solution councillor Spring Hawes, who’s expressed reluctance about killing the deer in past, liked the spirit of.
“I think that’s genuine, that is what our concern is,” she said. “If we can observe and make ourselves comfortable with the process, that’s what we have to do.”
The province will provide clover traps and bolt guns for the cull, which will arrive in Invermere once Kimberley finishes up its own similarly-sized effort — most likely in early February.
TIMELINE FOR RELOCATION, EDUCATION UNCLEAR
Hawes also questioned staff on other recommendations the district has adopted for dealing with deer, including relocating some of the animals, and an education campaign for residents. The suggestions were part of a report drafted for council by a special Urban Deer Committee, and were adopted last summer.
“I support all the recommendations in the report,” said Hawes. “Not just one. I have said all the times we’ve talked about this that I’m uncomfortable with focusing solely or singly on one aspect.”
But, according to district CAO Chris Prosser, many of the district’s other deer management plans are still some way off.
The province is still researching relocation and “does not know how to deal with that at the current time,” Prosser said. Some preliminary work has been done on a public education campaign, which will be co-ordinated with efforts in Kimberley and Cranbrook.
Mayor Gerry Taft argued beginning with a cull and then moving on to other recommendations may be the best way to deal with the deer.
“This is only one of many different steps and it’s not the perfect solution, it’s not the only solution,” he said. “But a lot of other steps, the public education, enforcing the anti-feeding bylaw, will only work with a more wild deer population in town.”
“Nobody wants to do it,” added councillor Justin Atterbury, “but we also see the necessity of having to make tough decisions.”
Atterbury, who says he’s had “close calls” with aggressive deer in the past, said he felt it was important to move ahead with the cull as soon as possible.
“As soon as we have a situation with a young person, everything we’re talking about now won’t be important, and we won’t have moved fast enough.”
NOT ALL IN FAVOUR
Of the handful of observers in chambers for the decision, some weren’t happy to see council move forward with the cull, observation or no.
“There are a lot of people responding to this who will see it as cruel,” one woman told council during the public comment period at the end of the meeting. “You can try to rationalize with people who are against it, but I don’t think it’s going to do any good.”
Another objector accused councillors of lacking empathy and compared the deer cull to the Holocaust.
“Just watch Schindler’s List again,” she told council, before leaving the room abruptly after the mayor attempted to cut her off.