The Invermere cull is over, and what does the community have to show for it?
About 20 dead deer, enough pages of vitriol from supporters and detractors to re-paper the district offices, at least $25,000 in legal fees paid out (the Invermere Deer Protection Organization is not disclosing its spending on the injunction and civil suit), and a definite sense of fatigue.
Back in January, we joked that it was the Year of the Deer in Invermere. Turns out we weren’t kidding — though at this point it looks like most of us would be happy to go back to the good old, regular old Year of the Dragon.
While deer management issues will continue, likely for years, with this particular stage of the ungulate saga over there’s one question left to ask:
Was it worth it?
Like most things involved in this story, that depends on how you look at it.
If you’re a parent worried about deer charging your children, we can’t see how 20 fewer deer will put your concerns completely to rest. If you saw the cull as morally reprehensible, even a handful of deaths is a downer.
And that’s without getting into the tens of thousands spent by both the district and those against the cull.
But there is a bright side to this issue.
When the deer cull was first announced last summer, no one expected the issue to ruffle more than a few feathers. Mayor Gerry Taft has since admitted the process might have changed some if council had seen the events of the last few months coming down the pipe.
Since then, we’ve seen a group of citizens organize on an issue they feel passionately about and, along the way, learn more about the sometimes Byzantine ins and outs of local government.
The awareness is crucial. If this saga brings more interest and citizen participation and scrutiny to the decisions made by our local politicians, and the decisions made by those higher up that affect them, then in some small way this has worked in our favour.
And if those newly energized by this issue find themselves less willing to read city documents, attend council meetings and stay up to date on local issues now that the last deer has been trapped?
Then… what a waste.
—The Valley Echo