Vandalism ends deer cull in Cranbrook
City will apply for additional Wildlife Permit for the fall
Vandalism of four provincially owned clover traps overnight Thursday has resulted in the City of Cranbrook ending this spring’s urban deer population reduction program ahead of schedule.
Around 5:30 a.m. Friday morning, city contractors making their early morning rounds discovered the four traps had the netting slashed making them unusable. All of the traps were located on private property. Cranbrook RCMP was immediately notified and an investigation is underway.
“We have decided to halt the cull,” said City of Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt. “We are 100% behind the RCMP and fully support their investigation. If the results of the investigation warrant, we will pursue criminal or civil action against those responsible.”
The program began on Sunday, February 22, with the setup and baiting of traps and concluded overnight Thursday, March 5, with a total of four mule deer being captured and euthanized over an approximate 11-day trapping period.
The breakdown of the mule deer captured is as follows: one adult buck and three adult does.
Although there was provision in the Wildlife Permit to capture and euthanize both mule deer and incidental whitetail deer, the contractor was instructed by the city and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) to release any captured whitetail deer, if it was deemed safe to do so, for both the deer and the contractor.
Two whitetail deer, one buck and one doe, were captured during the program. Both were released by the contractors unharmed.
The Wildlife Permit was issued to the City of Cranbrook on October 7, 2014 by the MFLNRO, was valid from December 1, 2014 and expires on March 15.
All of the mule deer were processed and the meat distributed to three local organizations to be used for human consumption. This process was clearly identified in the guidelines embedded in the Wildlife Permit provided by MFLNRO. All meat preparation was conducted by a qualified local butcher and processed in a facility inspected and approved by both Interior Health and MFLNRO, the city reported today (March 6).
The specific zones of the city to be targeted for the population reduction program were approved by resolution of council. That recommendation was based on complaints received by city staff from the public in 2014 along with the results of the urban deer population count conducted in December 2014.
The locations of the traps were determined by city staff based on this information along with complaints received by the provincial toll-free Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line and priority areas identified by the Conservation Officer Service in 2014.
The cull results indicate to staff that the clover traps were placed in the best strategic locations possible to minimize the chances of capturing whitetail deer, the city noted.
Two individuals/companies, who had previously approached the City of Cranbrook interested in conducting the cull program, were invited to submit a quote for service in February.
The contract was awarded by resolution of council with the approved budget of $12,750. The program will be well below budget.
The city is waiting on the final invoice from the contractor. Built into the cost per animal includes: placement and tear down of each clover trap, purchase of bait and supplies, liability insurance, provincially mandated equipment training, mileage, vehicle cleaning; processing, packaging and distribution of the meat and all associated contractor administration costs.
“We will be working with the province to determine the best method to continue to reduce the local urban deer population,” stated Mayor Pratt. “We still believe there is a strong public safety issue, so whether it will be a cull or relocation — we will be applying for another permit for this fall.”
The city is also working with the City of Kimberley, District of Elkford and District of Invermere on trying to create a relocation program, not as an alternative to culls but to determine the viability moving forward.
An anti deer cull demonstration was staged outside Cranbrook city hall on March 4.
This is not the first time clover traps have been vandalized during culls in the region, as both Invermere and Kimberley have experienced incidents in the past two years.