(From left to right) Sylvia Walker

(From left to right) Sylvia Walker

Last-minute injunction halts Invermere deer cull

Members of the Invermere Deer Protection Organization have obtained a temporary injunction to halt the proposed cull of 100 Invermere deer.

It looks like Invermere’s deer cull will not be moving ahead as planned.

Members of the Invermere Deer Protection Organization (IDPO) have obtained a temporary injunction from the Supreme Court of British Columbia to halt the proposed cull of 100 Invermere urban deer until February 24, 2012. The injunction comes as part of a civil suit against the district, in which the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified financial compensation for “nuisance and emotional pain,” according to District of Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.

Taft was only served with the injunction late Thursday night, on the eve of the proposed cull moving forward. The clover traps had already arrived following the recent cull in Kimberley, and as The Echo had reported the cull was likely to begin the following weekend.

“We had heard speculation that some of the people opposed to the cull were consulting with lawyers,” Taft told The Echo Friday. “However, we weren’t really sure of what was happening, so it did come as a surprise when we were served the injunction.”

The IDPO is a grass-roots organization whose objective is to “protect wildlife and find humane solutions to any kind of problems that arise with them,” according to organization president Devin Kazakoff. The group was founded about a month ago in response to the proposed cull, and Kazakoff says the injunction had been in the works since January 10, around when the cull was announced. Kazakoff says that the group opposes the cull because they “don’t feel the right steps have been taken.”

“There wasn’t enough public consultation involved with the process—we wanted an injunction so that we can have a chance to have all the residents of Invermere have their voices be heard,” Kazakoff said. “Many (members of the IDPO) are emotionally distraught over the idea of deer being slaughtered in our backyards—the city will not release the locations of the traps so we don’t know if they are going to be placed in our neighbours’ yards, and that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people in the town. They don’t sleep, they don’t eat—myself included, it’s taken a toll emotionally on me beyond belief. However, I want to make it clear that our case isn’t based on emotions.”

Kazakoff says while the next step is to garner more support for their cause, at this point he says it mostly lies in the hands of lawyers for the two sides. Kazakoff is also a member of the Invermere deer committee, and says that he has proposed a number of alternative, non-lethal methods to help solve the deer issue. The solution that he says the IDPO is now focusing on involves contraceptives for the deer that are administered through injections.

“Something so hasty as a lethal measure like (the cull)—we don’t know the ramifications of a cull,” Kazakoff said. “The rebound effect is going to cause more problems for the DOI than it’s going to fix. While (contraceptives) are more expensive, they will be way cheaper in the long run than having to cull the deer each year.”

Kazakoff says that the injunction was obtained on the grounds that the bylaw the DOI is using for the cull is “invalid,” in the sense that there was not enough public consultation prior to the bylaw being passed. Kazakoff said that he was extremely happy that they had been able to obtain an injunction in time, and says he believes it could truly be a landmark case.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” Kazakoff said. “It’s a humongous win for our cause, and it’s a precedent set for all of Canada actually.”

Taft, as a major proponent for the cull moving forward, was understandably disappointed with injunction, but agrees that at this point the matter lies in the hands of both sides’ lawyers.

“I’m disappointed,” Taft said. “I’m disappointed that it came in at the last minute, and I’m also disappointed that there is a small number of people—there are 14 people who signed the affidavits as part of the petition to the court. No matter what, it’s going to cost the DOI some money in legal fees. At this point it is with our legal council, who are exploring all the legal options, and we’ve also made contact with the provincial government to let them be aware of the situation—so at this point I guess it’s a waiting game.”

“In my personal opinion, the claims and statements made in the petition are very questionable, and very concerning,” Taft added.

*Updated Saturday February 11.