Cranbrook City Council has some-what grudgingly approved a deer cull for this winter.
A 5-2 vote Monday night gave the green light for the City to kill up to 50 deer between December and mid-March.
Most of Council expressed frustration with the lack of options they have to manage urban deer populations and suggested the problem should ultimately fall on the BC Government.
Many around the table agreed previous culls haven’t been successful, but also admitted something needs to be done.
Last winter, the City had a license to destroy up to 100 deer and put down 15.
Mayor Lee Pratt says past efforts have been hindered for various reasons including weather, contractor availability and vandalism from activists.
He suggests there’s a loud minority of residents against killing the animals, but called on those who want something done to voice their concerns.
Wanting to send a message to the concerned, Pratt says the majority of people he talks to are worried about the number of deer in town.
The Mayor invites suggestions to Council and encourages anyone to phone MLA Tom Shypitka to express any displeasure with the Province’s role in urban deer management.
He claims previous meetings were fruitless, and is urging the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to equip communities in similar positions with more tools to address wildlife issues.
Municipalities can currently only apply for license and funding for culling or fencing initiatives.
Councillor Wesley Graham, one of the two votes against the cull, argued the Province needs to revamp it’s approach to handling urban deer.
Graham suggested it’s the Province’s problem and municipal councils shouldn’t be burderened with these decisions only to face potential backlash from residents and conservation groups.
The BC Government does research other options through trial initiatives.
A two year East Kootenay translocation project began in 2015 and captured and relocated approximately 80 urban deer from four regional communities (Cranbrook, Kimberley, Elkford, Invermere).
The lead biologist says the results are mixed and more answers are needed before the Province should recommend translocation as an option.
A Vancouver Island community is participating in a contraceptive serum, birth control, pilot that aims to curb ungulat numbers.
However, these investigations are still currently asking more questions than providing answers.
That hasn’t stopped other East Kootenay communities such as Kimberley and Elkford.
Cranbrook Councillor Danielle Eaton, the other vote against the cull, proposed during the discussion the City spend more money on eduction.
Currently, it’s estimated $2,500-$3,000 goes toward education initiatives between Cranbrook and Kimberley through programs like WildsafeBC.
Eaton asserts that should grow exponentially.
Staff reports show the number of aggressive deer reports in Cranbrook through the City and the BC Conservation Officer Service have been cut in half in the past year.
Complains through the municipality have gone from 35 in 2016 to 15 in 2017, while the CO’s RAPP line has received 24 this year compared to 48 last year.
The Cranbrook – Kimberley WildsafeBC branch previously reported 270 encounters between Key City residents and wildlife in 2017 (that includes bears, coyotes, cougars and moose), half of the number of calls they received in 2016.
Coordinator Danica Roussy credited it to community awareness.
– Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt