Regional News: Animal group alleges behind-the-scenes cull

An animal rights organization is accusing Cranbrook of undergoing an urban deer cull in advance of a regional translocation trial

  • Jan. 20, 2016 3:00 p.m.

Trevor Crawley

Cranbrook Townsman

An animal rights organization is accusing the City of Cranbrook of undergoing an urban deer cull in advance of a regional translocation trial that is about to get underway.

Date-stamped video footage and photographs have been posted on a website——and Liz White, a board member of the Animal Alliance of Canada — a group long opposed to deer culls — says that she hasn’t been able to find any evidence of a council vote to approve or fund a cull. The cull comes before an anticipated study into the potential of translocation as a solution for urban deer. Cranbrook, Kimberley, Elkford and Invermere are participating in the study, in which the Animal Alliance of Canada has invested $10,000.

“I’ve talked to councillors in other communities who are participating in the relocation study—they knew nothing about it. When we first agreed to give money to the relocation program, I was told that there would be no culling if relocation took place,” said White.

“On that basis, we decided to contribute money and then I find out in December that, in fact, there is a cull going forward in Cranbrook.”

The video footage—date-stamped Jan. 5, 2016—shows a fawn enclosed in a clover trap before contractors arrive on scene. The video alleges the fawn paced for two hours before the contractors arrived, collapsed the trap and used a bolt gun twice on the animal.

White alleges that even though the bolt gun was used twice, the animal can still be seen moving as it is dragged off the video frame.

“They are not complying with the contract, in terms of the humaneness,” White said. “The bolt gun is supposed to kill that deer immediately, and that in that trap, that was a full six minutes by the time it had been dragged out of the frame and we have no idea how long that deer was left before he or she was bled out.

“That is a complete violation of the permit that was issued to Cranbrook, for which Cranbrook is responsible.”

Photographs of another incident also posted on the same website show two fawns on the ground caught in a collapsed clover trap.

“Those two fawns were entangled in a trap and left in that condition for at least two hours, so that again is in violation of the contract,” said White.

“All it says is that it has to be done humanely, so it doesn’t matter what happens, the contractor and the City of Cranbrook is responsible for ensuring it’s humaneness.”

White says that she knows of four deer that were killed as part of the cull, as clover traps were deployed in late December and early January.

A City of Cranbrook spokesman confirmed that the city received a deer cull permit a few months ago. Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt declined to comment on the deer cull and indicated he “doesn’t want to get into a debate through the media with Liz White or the Animal Alliance.”

However, the city remains interested in proceeding with the urban deer translocation trial, as noted in an email statement provided to the Daily Townsman.

“Council committed $10,000 to the trial and has been asking the province for several years for additional tools to deal with urban deer, just the same as all the municipalities in the East Kootenay concerned with their respective urban deer populations. The City is very interested to see the end results.”

White said she will start looking to make sure the organization’s money for the translocation study goes to Kimberley or Elkford.

“They’ve not done culls, they’ve agreed not to do culls during this period of time,” White said. “I’m going to have to make sure that happens.”