Define ‘inhumane’

It may be the Year of the Dragon elsewhere in the world, but in Invermere, it's likely the Year of the Deer.

It may be the Year of the Dragon elsewhere in the world, but in Invermere, it’s likely the Year of the Deer.

The animals, already on their way to becoming something of a permanent fixture in the pages of the paper, were back on the Invermere council agenda again last night after this paper hit the presses, with more residents lining up to share their concerns about the district’s plan to kill up to 100 deer.

While council has hoped to reassure citizens by agreeing to watch a few of the deer meet their maker, with the option to cancel the project altogether if it seems inhumane, it’s not clear the idea has settled many anti-culler’s nerves.

It’s pretty clear nothing short of ending the cull before it begins will satisfy those who see killing any animal as cruel (it should surprise no one that a brief argument about the merits of vegetarianism sprung up at the end of council’s last meeting), but there’s also another question the decision raises:

What’s the difference between ‘inhumane’ and ‘unpleasant to watch’?

As councillor Spring Hawes pointed out a few weeks ago, watching a branding can be pretty rough going. And there are organizations that would argue the process is inhumane — along with a lot of other aspects of large-scale farming. So what separates that practice from culling deer?

It’s doubtful anyone heading out to watch the cull is bringing popcorn or expecting a good time, but beyond that what criteria apply here? What moves the killing of a deer from a bad, gory night out to an act of animal cruelty?

For or against, there’s not much that’s easy about the culling issue. The ethics of the move are worth debating — especially when it’s not yet clear if this February’s event would be a one time deal, but it’s also worth defining terms here.

After all, relocating deer always sounds like a nice, guilt-soothing alternative to culling, until someone points out the high mortality rate involved in the process.

Clearly there’s more to inhumanity than meets the eye.

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