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Posted: January 21, 2014

Cull opponents want answers from district

Opponents of the District of Elkford urban deer cull are charging that the municipality is not being transparent and accountable and are standing by their demand to see it suspended.

In a Jan. 21 press release, the BC Deer Protection Society (BCDPS) states the district is ignoring the questions it is asking and is not getting any clarification about why it did not suspend the cull following a Jan. 6 contract/permit violation.

“Unfortunately the contractor violated a condition of the permit by harvesting deer on the sixth prior to darkness. An investigation by the district and the province immediately commenced and the matter has been addressed,” the District of Elkford stated in a Jan. 10 press release.

The BCDPS fired back on Jan. 14, demanding that the district’s cull permit be suspended for 2014 pending an investigation of the permit infraction by the BC Conservation Officer Service.

And in today’s press release, the BCDPS stated “not one single resident of Elkford who complained about the permit violation was interviewed by the Conservation Officers investigating the situation. All requests to the minister by the (BCDPS), seeking clarification about the permit and the investigation have gone unanswered.”

Devin Kazakoff, BCDPS and Invermere Deer Protection Society spokesperson said the cull, with the provincial government permit allowing for up to 50 deer, is underway but the only way anyone knows about it is through word on the street.

“Notification of the contract violation did not come from the district or its cull contractor. It came from Elkford residents and the BCDPS. Yet ministry staff have chosen to freeze out the very people who discovered and reported the violation.”

BCDPS and Animal Alliance spokesperson Liz White wonders why the district didn’t stop the cull when the permit violation was reported.

“The district and its cull contractor violated the conditions of the permit, which were the same as previous cull permits. The district was notified of the violation that day by a member of the BCDPS and yet continued the cull. We question on what grounds the permit would be reinstated given the flagrant nature of the violation,” she said, adding, “The fact is that the district, as the permit holder, violated the permit conditions. Reinstatement sends a terrible message to the contractor and other municipalities that if you blatantly violate the permit the ministry will give you a tap on the wrist and that will suffice.”

Kazakoff, citing “so many unanswered questions,” wonders what the government officials have to hide.

“If district staff knew of the permit violation in the afternoon, why did they not stop the cull? Why did they wait until the ministry suspended the permit? Why did it take residents of Elkford to expose the violation and not the district staff who were in charge? Why was it a representative from the Invermere Deer Protection Society who notified officials? We have no answers to these questions. Both the COs and ministry staff have been silent on the matter.”

Kazakoff said the BCDPS believes a strong message must be sent to the district and any other jurisdiction undertaking a deer cull and complete accountability and transparency should be demanded.

“We call on the Ministry (of Environment) to permanently withdraw the permit to send a message that violations will not be tolerated. And we call for any decision to be made in an open, transparent and accountable manner. The residents of Elkford, the BCDPS and residents of B.C. deserve no less,” Kazakoff stated.

District of Elkford officials were contacted today by e-KNOW for comment on this latest BCDPS press release but they opted to decline, noting their Jan. 10 response stands.

Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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