Letter to the Editor: Defending the deer

The Invermere Deer Protection Society thanks Mayor Gerry Taft for his effort to explain the deer culling decision.

Dear Editor,

The Invermere Deer Protection Society thanks Mayor Gerry Taft for his effort to explain the deer culling decision.

His portrayal of the petition filed in BC Supreme Court as “frivolous” shows disdain — for the judgment to allow the case to proceed, for the environment and for thoughtful citizens who appreciate and value wildlife in our community and are repulsed by the idea of a municipally sponsored, on-going slaughter and meat production program.  There is no shame in sober second thought but doggedly pursuing the right to kill — perhaps.

On April 5, 2012, district lawyers sent a letter stating “the District of Invermere is not interested in negotiating a settlement of this matter.”  The mayor talks of “law suit” and “damages” but does not reveal that a district bylaw is the main issue.

We met with the deer committee and they sent a nice thank you for “a great deal of information regarding urban deer management which included reports about fencing, fertility options, hazing as well as peoples’ attitudes towards wildlife.” Conservation Officer Service advises that avoiding conflict requires “simple behavioural changes” and the use of fencing and resistant species. That is why we provided information regarding education and other non-lethal methods of reducing conflict. The deer committee kept asking for “recommendations” in spite of our considerable effort. Now it is clear they were encouraged to engage and challenge — a disappointing diversion of energy. Sadly, in contrast to Cranbrook, Invermere is still waiting for the “public education program.”

Why are municipalities so intent on accepting responsibility and possibly, liability, for the behaviour of wildlife?  In the Wildlife Act “no right of action lies, and no right of compensation exists, against the government for death, personal injury or property damage caused by wildlife.”

There is a wonderful new tool in wildlife management called “citizen science” — a component of a well-funded scientific study for the purpose of conservation. Local examples include observations of white tail deer in Kootenay National Park and wildlife in Crowsnest Pass; not the DOI deer count. The deer committee requested our “recommendations” about the planned count; however they never provided the objective and methodology. We responded with information on counting in general including the recommendation from the Capital Regional District Deer Management Strategy that “there is no clear methodology to count deer in urban, rural or agricultural areas” and “volunteer estimates are likely unreliable and therefore not advisable.”

There is nothing frivolous in our concern that taxpayers and deer will pay the high cost for misguided determination to kill 150 animals.

Sue Saunders