Friday, March 23, 2012

District council hears from and questions anti-cull group

Posted by: Ian Cobb    Tags:  , ,     Posted date:  March 14, 2012  |  No comment


The group that is suing the District of Invermere over its decision to proceed with a culling of urban deer within town limits appeared before council last night with the message it wants to work with the town.
However, council members expressed reservations, pointing out the lingering matter of the civil lawsuit against the district by 14 residents.
Charles Lamphier, recently named as chair of the Invermere Deer Protection Society (IDPS), which held its first official meeting as a non-profit society March 12, said the focus of its 150 members is “looking for solutions for deer protection in the valley.”
The society membership includes 75 district residents, 135 Regional District of East Kootenay residents and 40 “part-time” residents, Lamphier said, adding he sees it as “a potential volunteer group” for the town to work with.
He then outlined lingering concerns, including clover traps being left in public view, garbage and composting and said he’s been pleased to see the district take active steps on some concerns presented, aside from stopping the cull.
As of today the district’s contractor has culled 19 animals. With only two more days remaining on the provincial government permit, which expires March 15, it is highly unlikely the district will hit its allowed target of 100 deer.
Lamphier said as far as he is concerned, the cull is over and done with.
“We really need to address the division in the community because of the cull – we need to move on and mend these relationships,” he said.
Education is vital moving forward, Lamphier said. “We should take Bear Aware one step further and include all wildlife,” he said, pointing at the Bow Valley community as an example worth studying.
“We should begin immediate non-lethal deer strategies,” he said, such as “soft having solutions – humane methods,” as well as education programs.
Council members expressed a variety of comments, though a common-thread was they didn’t think they could work too closely with the IDPS because of the pending civil suit.
Coun. Justin Atterbury said he had to ask the hard question, and asked Lamphier what he thought about the money it was costing Invermere taxpayers for the district to fight the civil suit.
“I can’t speak for the group on it. Personally, the court action was to grow awareness to this,” Lamphier replied. “The cost… you know… I don’t know –it was more a stop-gap to draw attention. Personally, I’d like this to be the last cull in B.C. It’s an unfortunate fact that litigation costs money on both sides.”
District chief administrative officer Chris Prosser reported the district has paid $25,000 on the matter, “as Friday last week (March 9). There is still some paperwork to be done.”
“There is some awkwardness and potentially legal issues for us” to speak too closely with members of the IDPS, said Mayor Gerry Taft, asking Lamphier if they would consider withdrawing the lawsuit.
“That is possible. It is open for discussion,” Lamphier responded.
Coun. Spring Hawes, who said she found Lamphier “very eloquent” and appreciates the offer to work collaboratively with the district, noted “there have been quite a lot of pretty personal attacks – and a lot said that is not necessarily true. There has to be a level of confidence and trust.”
Lamphier replied: “We chose to live here because of the wildlife and we have to accept them.”
“Everyone wants to work together but we have to be cautious about how much we share with someone who is suing us,” suggested Coun. Greg Anderson.
“You have to think about that. Unfortunately, your name is on the lawsuit,” he said, asking how much the IDPS had spent lawyers?
Lamphier said, “it is” and admitted to being uncomfortable about that fact.
IDPS member Devin Kazakoff stood up and noted “we don’t make that public,” referring to the money they’ve spent. He also informed council that “a lot more than 14 people” wanted to be a part of the civil suit.
“We can settle this out of court if you want,” he concluded, sitting down.
Atterbury, factoring if the IDPS had spent as much on lawyers as the district, suggested the possible $50,000 outcome on both sides could have been better spent in the valley.
“Province-wide, I think it might be a good thing. We stood up for something we believe in,” Lamphier said.
Atterbury pressed that he is worried about the potential precedence that could be set from a group launching a civil lawsuit against the district for a decision it has made. “My fear is the next decision we make – are they (members of the public) going take us to court?” he said, adding the money spent so far on the suit will result in a one per cent increase in taxes for Invermere ratepayers.
Seated in the gallery, Doug Morcom rose to suggest the heated issue began “because there was not enough input from local people.”
Taft said public consultation “is a two-way street. There was an 18-month process – well documented in the local papers – advertised – lots of information. If only we knew this issue was going to be controversial at the last minute.”
However, he admitted he is glad the district now has a group such as the IDPS to work with in the future.
“Eighteen months – two years ago we struggled to fill the (Urban Deer) Committee,” he said.
Lamphier then apologized for not being involved sooner and promises he will remain involved.
“I’ve never been involved in politics,” he said, adding he also never believed a cull would proceed.
Anderson reiterated the district’s precarious position toward the IDPS.
“As long as that’s out there (law suit), it’s very difficult to have a legal discussion. In fairness to the public we can’t expend any more of their money. We cannot go there. We have to be very mindful of the public confidence.”
Lamphier replied, “You can put that right on the table.”
“It is on the table,” Anderson responded.
Kazakoff interjected, “We can have our lawyers meet your lawyers.”
Hawes said it would likely cost taxpayers a couple of thousand more dollars for such a thing.
“We are a very small organization. We are very careful” with the public’s money, she said.
“From our perspective we can’t communicate with you guys until that suit stops. It can’t be used as leverage – we’ll drop the law suit it…,” Atterbury said.
“It is a legally touchy issue,” Taft added.
After another IDPS member rose to speak about the pending law suit, CAO Prosser advised Taft to halt the conversation.
“That is something for the courts to deal with,” he said.
Prior to ending the presentation, Taft asked the IDPS members if they condone or encourage interference with cull traps distributed in the district, noting that some traps have been “tampered with.”
“No, I don’t know anyone in our group that is tampering with traps,” Lamphier concluded.
Taft also told the three-quarters-filled council chambers that the district will not be seeking a two-extension of its cull permit.
Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Letter in Response to the CRD Call for Interest

March 16, 2012

I would like to comment on several inaccuracies regarding the official Terms of Reference published on the CRD website and referred to in your letter:

1.    It is first stated that three (3) members of the farmers community will be included in the committee.  This is consistent with the proposed number specifically voted upon and approved at the meeting of February 22.  However, just a few lines below in the same document, it changes into  “… least three ….”.  This would mean 3 or more with no upper limit.  This contradicts the previous statement in the same document and is not consistent with what the committee deliberated.  According to this statement, the CRD board could in principle be entitled to nominate ALL 11 members from amongst the farmers community.  Therefore, I ask that the document be amended to reflect the actual correct number approved at the meeting.

2.    In the same Terms of Reference it is stated that “….A number of members of the public have indicated interest in their email submissions in participating….”.  I went through the 400 or so emails posted on the CRD website – I had real trouble finding even one that offered any positive and constructive participation in the public process to find remedies to human-deer interaction.  The vast majority of writers were whining about deer munching their shrubs and flowers and defecating in their back yard. 

3.    At the last meeting of March 14, it was said that the CRD received “more than 1,000 letters” which is a gross unjustified exaggeration as you well know.  This number of course was readily picked up by the media and promptly published in the newspaper thereby adding to the inaccurate and misleading reporting recently done on the deer issue.  Such exaggeration was totally unnecessary and in contradiction with a clear, unbiased and balanced procedure. 

I would strongly advise against recruiting members of the CAG from amongst the few hundreds of complainers who actually wrote to the CRD.  The other hundreds of thousands of citizens who did NOT write because they do NOT have an issue with the deer would be in this way overrun by a small minority which would render the CAG committee totally biased and one-sided.  This would be in obvious contradiction with the specific CRD guidelines which call for neutral and balanced procedure and a “…strong sense of community, willingness to work respectfully….”  .

I hope that you will give this matter careful consideration.

Thank you.

Prof.  N.R. Spogliarich

Thursday, March 15, 2012

CRD Recruiting for Citizen Deer Committee

By Kim Westad, Times Colonist March 15, 2012

The Capital Regional District is forming a citizen committee to provide it with direction on how to deal with deer.
A majority of the CRD board voted Wednesday in favour of a plan to form a public group to gather information on what is expected to be one of the most controversial issues the region will deal with this year.
The citizen committee will gather information from April until July, and then report to the regional district. It will be up to the CRD board to make a decision on how to deal with deer, which could range from leaving them as is to a cull.
For farmers, the rising number of deer are an economic hazard, destroying crops. But for many others, the animals are part of the local urban and agricultural world. At an earlier meeting, several farmers pleaded for action, while other speakers advocated for the deer to be left alone. The CRD has received more than 1,000 emails on the topic.
"The committee will have to come up with direction on a very complex, very controversial issue," said Metchosin Mayor John Ranns.
Eleven public representatives will be on the committee. There will also be a committee of experts, including biologists and wildlife experts, to provide information to the group.
The CRD is now looking for people to apply to the citizen advisory group, which will guide the development of the Regional Deer Management Strategy. They will be asked to prepare and recommend the management strategy and action plan to address "deer-human conflicts in the region," says the CRD.
It will have up to five hours of weekly meetings and materials review between April and July.
Those interested can submit an application through the CRD website at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Witness to the Kill Describes What He Saw

A reliable witness in Kimberley, who watched the process, was definitely impacted by it.  Many others feel that if it were ever to be shown to the general public there would be outrage from animal lovers the world over.  The deer were trapped in the clover traps for many hours.  By the time the contractors arrived at 6 a.m., the exhausted deer were lying down inside the traps, and ‘went ballistic’ when they collapsed the trap on top of them, instantly realizing it was humans that had pinned them down.  They were ‘bear hugged’ by the contractors and then killed by the penetrating bolt gun.  The observer is a seasoned hunter, but said it certainly was not for the squeamish.  

In Kimberley and Cranbrook, many fawns, around 5 or 6 months old, were killed along with does and bucks.  As prey animals, they obviously would experience great terror and stress, awaiting death, not to mention the close human contact in the last few seconds of their lives.  This may not matter to an often uncaring public in this province, but it has disturbed many residents of the Kootenays, not just the so-called ‘bleeding hearts.’  Even many avid sport hunters there are dead against it, and have encouraged Kootenay civic leaders to investigate non-lethal methods of population control for ensuing years.

A reliable source says that this is one of the most controversial issues in the Kootenays in over fifty years.  It has caused great division and contention among neighbours in these communities, and the damage and fallout will continue, until such time as other methods are explored.

The does being killed in Invermere this month are carrying fetuses that would have been born in May or June.  It is surprising that so many ethical hunters find this unacceptable and cruel, and yet folks here callously continue to call for it.  The pro-kill CRD directors and residents should see what they are sanctioning, and without question, be there to witness it for themselves, and then have to explain it to their children and grandchildren. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Victoria, Just Say NO

UPDATED: Deer trap tampering leads to charges

So far about 13 deer have been killed in Invermere's ongoing deer cull.
Steve Jessel

By Steve Jessel - Invermere Valley Echo
Published: March 06, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: March 06, 2012 2:43 PM
As Invermere's deer cull plows forward, not everyone is sitting by to wait it out.
As reported by the RCMP and by District of Invermere (DOI) mayor Gerry Taft, there have been a number of cases of traps either being tampered with, or individuals letting deer out of the traps when found.
"Charges have already been submitted in a few cases," RCMP Cpl. Shane Parker told The Echo. "I wouldn't call it vandalism, but people are letting deer out of the traps, and they will be charged for that. We are taking it very seriously, and as far as the RCMP are concerned, we're trying to remain neutral, or impartial, but obviously when it comes to a criminal offense, we're going to pursue that."
Taft says that at this point he believes 13 deer have been trapped and killed, and that he and councillors Spring Hawes and Justin Atterbury have each had a chance to witness a killing.
"From my perspective there is nothing to hide," Taft said. "When I watched it was extremely smooth, there was no suffering of the animal."
The district has up until March 15 to kill 100 deer, but district Chief Administrative Officer Chris Prosser says that they are unlikely to reach that number.
"It's very slow progress," Prosser said. "We will be nowhere near what our permit allows, those almost three weeks of delay cost us dearly."
Traps have been placed almost exclusively on private property to this point, however there have been complaints from the community that the traps are too visible in some cases, with one man telling council at their last meeting that as a parent of a disabled child, he is afraid seeing a trap "would just destroy her."
Others have complained that they were not notified that traps were being set on their neighbours' property.
"When traps are placed on private property, the property owner where the trap is placed, it's their obligation to have the owners [of neighbouring properties] be aware of what's taking place," Prosser said. "It's only adjacent, abutting properties, not any distance around them."
The district has also faced problems with locations and pictures of the traps being shared on social media sites, which in Prosser's eyes is unacceptable.
"The traps are on private property, so we're trying to protect those private citizens that have offered their properties to have deer trapped on," Prosser said.
"The reality is that practically all the traps are on private property, so to even trip the door or let (the deer out) is trespassing," Taft added. "We're also not convinced all these sightings of the traps are accidental... some of the people opposed to the cull have been driving around the community trying to find the traps, and then complaining that they know where they are."
Vandalizing and/or tampering with the traps is a criminal code offence, and according to Cpl. Parker penalties can range from fines to probationary periods that also include mandatory curfews. For his part, Taft says he is disappointed with the number of attacks directed against the contractors and DOI staff.
"This issue is owned by the council, so to try and take things out on the contractor or the DOI staff is unfair," Taft said. "They didn't make the decision, they're just implementing what council decided, and so the comments, questions, criticism and attacks... all of those things should be directed at council, and not at staff or contractors."

UPDATE: The Columbia Valley RCMP have issued a statement on the deer cull situation this morning, with more details relating to the charges mentioned above.
Last week the detachment was called out to investigate a disturbance where the contractor hired to complete the cull was blocked from leaving an area and the people protesting his actions caused a disturbance according to information provided.
An adult male and adult female were recognized. Given the circumstances the male and female were advised that recommendations will be forwarded to crown recommending charges of cause a disturbance and mischief. The contractor at that time advised he feared the matter would escalate. No documents were served. Both were advised that they will be requested to provide a statement if they wished, so that Crown has as much information as possible. I recommended they contact a lawyer for advice before providing a statement.
In the early hours of March 5 the contractor and associate were followed around by three vehicles. At one time one of the vehicles pulled up along side the contractor. The message/intimidation appeared clear to the contractor by this action.
In another incident one of the cars was reported to go through a red light. The contractor and associate were unaware of their intentions and contacted the RCMP. The contractor advised he was stopped near Tim Hortons and one of the suspect vehicles that was following, parked closely behind to watch them.
Police were contacted and the contractor was advised to remain at his location and not get out of the vehicle. Two police vehicles responded. An adult female was located parked watching the contractor. She was issued a ticket for going through a red light and cautioned that the next time she does a similar act, applicable charges would be laid if warranted.
The female who was following the contractors parked very close to two large men. Unknown who would instruct a female to do this. She was fortunate that the persons she was following, and now watching for the purpose of video taping, did the right thing: contact the police and remain in the car.
Other less law-abiding and peaceful persons may have taken other tactics. How would any female feel if she was followed by three cars then watched? Not a wise decision to put someone in that position.
The two other cars were located within minutes. One adult male was the same person involved in the first incident. This male was advised that his actions this particular morning would be included in the recommended charges from the first incident. Both males were advised that further actions will be prosecuted under the applicable charges if warranted.
Sections 175 (1) (a) (i) , (iii) Criminal code, 430 (1) (c ) and (d) and Section 264 (1) (a) (c) and (d) of the criminal code are applicable sections that were described to the police. You do the research.
Both males were advised that the police are aware of the sensitivity of the issue at hand and that I have instructed the officers to avoid arresting unless placed in a situation to arrest. We will simply gather all the facts and send recommendations to Crown for their decision if the circumstances so dictate. If the person continues actions that are criminal in nature then section 498 (1.1) (a) (iii) would have to be seriously entertained — hold in custody or release with conditions.
Every member in this community has the right to be safe and not fear for his/her safety. I know many of the people opposed to the cull who have gone out of their way to support those that feel strongly about this, and I know full well that they do not support fear tactics, or want a person or his family to be in fear.Those who continue to do so will lose some valuable support.
I agree with some comments I have read, things are getting out of hand. In order to keep a handle on this I may be getting out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to prevent things getting out of hand. Thing to remember, not all that friendly between the hours of 5:30 and 7 a.m.
The contractor has approached me and we have discussed concerns. I am fully prepared to meet with those that oppose the cull and discuss issues where the police are or may be involved. As always, I prefer lunch or dinner meetings.
— Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac