Less than 48 hours after carrying out its first urban deer harvest, the District of Elkford had its cull suspended by the province for one week after its contractor was caught violating the conditional cull permit.
The day that the permit went into effect, on Monday, January 6th, the contractor carrying out the cull, CP Trapping, was caught culling during daylight hours — a forbidden practice for urban wildlife culls.
“The harvest commenced on January 6th and was temporarily suspended on the 7th by the Province,” reads a press release by the District of Elkford. “Unfortunately the contractor violated a condition of the permit by harvesting deer on the 6th prior to darkness.”
Devon Kazakoff, president of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, was contacted during the incident by a mother on a walk with a friend and her eight-year-old son.
“I was on the phone with them when they watched it happen,” he told the Valley Echo. After speaking with the traumatized witnesses, Mr. Kazakoff contacted the local conservation officer, the RCMP, and finally John Krebs, the regional manager for the Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs
Kootenay Boundary Region of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, who issued the permit.
“This is the fourth town CP Trapping has culled; he should know the culling procedures – they’re all the same,” said Mr. Kazakoff, who is hoping for a complete revoking of the permit for both the contractor, Carmen Purdy, as well as the District of Elkford.
“The province issued a one-week suspension while they investigate the details and exactly what the contractor did, explained Elkford CAO Curtis Helgesen, adding that the cull will continue if the suspension is lifted next week.
He said that the district was made aware the afternoon of the incident, and has been cooperating with the investigation since the day before the suspension was issued.
He said that Elkford council was anticipating problems of this nature, but said that the district is avoid the word cull, and instead using the term “urban deer harvest”.
“When council made the decision to go through the steps to acquire a permit from the province, they knew that it was going to be a very contentious issue,” he said.
While there have been mixed reactions locally in Elkford, Mr. Helgesen said that the most noise seems to be coming from outside interests.
“We’ll live by the decision of the province,” he added.
Like Mr. Helgesen, Invermere mayor Gerry Taft is eager to see how the situation plays out. Mr. Taft said that a similar situation occurred in Invermere during the 2012 cull, involving a deer trapped in a cage during daylight hours. He said that the deer was simply freed and there was no issue.
Based on his experience, Mr. Taft suspects that the cages may have been tampered with if they were malfunctioning and trapping deep during the wrong time of day.
The District of Invermere is not currently in the process of planning or executing a cull, nor have they advertised for contractors, added Mr. Taft. But if the time comes, he said that the contractor will hopefully be more local than CP Trapping from Cranbrook.
“Theoretically there are a lot of people in the valley that are capable of doing the work, usually with hunting experience,” he said.
But Mr. Kazakoff said that CP Trapping was the only contractor to bid in Elkford, and worries that it will be the only business to make itself available. (The contractor involved in Invermere’s deer cull attempt, Larry Mullikin, passed away last year.)
“If Invermere’s considering another cull, they better not consider Carmen Purdy to do the job,” Mr Kazakoff said.
During a November 2013 opinion poll, 729 of Invermere residents voted yes to using a cull as management for urban deer population, while 259 voted no.
A decision on whether to renew or revoke the permit will likely have been issued by the time this issue of the Valley Echo is available; for updates, see www.invermerevalleyecho.com .