Mr. Kazakoff at a protest against the Cranbrook deer cull in February 2013.

Mr. Kazakoff at a protest against the Cranbrook deer cull in February 2013.

Kimberley deer cull over after Invermere men arrested

Invermere residents Devin Kazakoff, 30, and Lucky Gene Sikora, 28, face charges

With four of five needed clover traps destroyed by vandals, the City of Kimberley has shut down its winter deer cull in the wake of two Invermere males being arrested in the city in the early hours of Thursday, February 27th.

Invermere residents Devin Kazakoff, 30, and Lucky Gene Sikora, 28,appeared before a Judicial Justice of the Peace in Cranbrook later on February 27th and face charges of mischief, and disguising the face with intent to commit an offence.

They were released from custody and will next appear in Cranbrook Criminal Court on Tuesday, May 20th to consult with legal counsel.

The pair each faced $1,000 bail with a number of strict conditions which include not entering the City of Kimberley, not being within 500 metres of a Ministry of Forests or Ministry of Environment office or facility within the province of B.C., not being with in 500 metres of any lawful deer trap facility, and to report to a bail supervisor and abide by a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Earlier this month, 10 clover traps — meant to immobilize a deer before a contractor culls the animal with a bolt gun — were stolen from a government compound in Cranbrook. Police found seven of the traps in bush nearby but six had been destroyed in a fire. Three remain missing. No arrests have been made in the February 9th incident.

With only one trap left, Kimberley mayor Ron McRae said the cull, which was slated under its permit to end by March 15th, 2014, is over.

“We can’t do an effective cull without sufficient traps,” he said. “In effect the cull is done. The permit will run out and we will not seek an extension.”

Mr. McRae said that with the traps damaged in Cranbrook after the early February break-in, he didn’t believe there were any other traps left.

The February 27th arrests were made after Kimberley RCMP received a report of the suspects damaging a clover trap before fleeing to a vehicle. The RCMP obtained a vehicle description, and soon afterwards Cranbrook RCMP members located the vehicle on side road south of Kimberley. Two males were arrested around 2:30 a.m. and were taken into custody. A search of the vehicle located several items police believe were used to damage the traps.

After the arrest, RCMP conducted a police dog search, which located netting from the traps hidden in the bush near where the subjects were arrested.

Cpl. Chris Newel of the Kimberley RCMP told the Valley Echo the investigation is still ongoing, and that the charges were recommended in consultation with the Conservation Officers Service.

Mr. Kazakoff’s Invermere Deer Protection Society sued the District of Invermere in 2012, claiming that council failed to properly consult residents before deciding to carry out a deer cull.

The civil suit was dismissed by the B.C. Supreme Court last November, when nearly 1,000 Invermere voters approved the use of culls as a tool to manage urban deer in a referendum, with 74 per cent in favour of the deer management strategy.

The Invermere Deer Protection Society is a member of the B.C. Deer Protection Coalition, which has been outspoken against culls in Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere.

The Valley Echo made several attempts to reach Mr. Kazakoff and other members of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, but did not hear back  prior to press deadline.

– With files from Sally Macdonald and Carolyn Grant