Thursday, June 28, 2012

CAG Meeting from June 19 Still Not Posted to Moderndemocracy

While the CAG meeting on June 27 was not filmed, the June 19 meeting was, and Moderndemocracy has still not posted it.

There were many inappropriate comments made at that meeting, including eye-rolling and tittering when the chair read a note to the group from Robin Bassett.  Robin had explained that he would not be in town for the next two meetings, but attempted some input via email.  The facilitator, Jan Pezzaro remarked "Thank you for the input from a distance, Robin."  There have been many absences during the duration of these meetings, but none have been met with such malevolence.

Robin Bassett has asked at every meeting for actual deer numbers, and financial loss numbers from Saanich farmers.  He has been told time and again by Jeff Weightman and Jan Pezzaro that those numbers are not available and that the farmers do not have to submit their losses.  Yet discussion pushes ahead without this fundamental information....

With no clear idea that a deer issue even exists we the taxpayers must sit idly by as Jan Pezarro is flown in from the mainland every week to lead the CAG members to the conclusion that they were chosen for.  Are the 13 communities in the CRD really obligated to financially help out a handful of small businesses who want the deer killed?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to Create a Survey that will Lead the Public to Where You Want Them to Go

A closed-ended question - "Have you stopped taking heroin?" is impossible to answer if you've never taken heroin.

Respondents are asked "To what extent do you agree that "Need for sustainable agriculture" should be a Principle of the Regional Deer Management Strategy?"  What is sustainable agriculture as defined by the CRD?  By the respondent?  Similarly, the question "To what extent do you agree that "Respect First Nations" should be a Principle of the Regional Deer Management Strategy?"

This Ordinal Scale survey will not allow one to submit until all the questions are answered, thereby leading the survey respondent to conclusions that they may not agree with.

Finally, the Goal - "To what extent do you agree that "Address the deer-human conflicts in the region: agricultural, impacts, public health and safety and ornamental gardens" should be a Goal of the Regional Deer Management Strategy?"  Public health and safety and ornamental gardens are given equal consideration by the CRD?   

In July the CRD will be posting other surveys for the public to take part in.  The next one "will include evaluation criteria, and the application of those criteria to the management options."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Animal Protection Groups Challenge Ministry of Environment Recommendations in Deer Report

For Immediate Release

Deer Cull Not Justified

New report released by animal protection
groups challenge Ministry of Environment recommendations in deer reports

June 20, 2012: Animal Alliance of Canada, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada and Born Free USA have just released a report challenging Ministry of Environment assertions that deer are overabundant and must be culled to get their populations “under control”.

The paper authored by Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance and Leader of Animal Alliance Environment Voters and Barry MacKay, Canadian Representative for Born Free USA examines the rationale for lethal deer management put forward by provincial and municipal governments and challenges the accuracy of the reasons given to support lethal action.

“The Ministry is alleging an overabundant deer population as the reason for lethal action,” said Barry MacKay.  “However, their own figures do not support their assertions, with huge variations in deer count which demonstrate a lack of accurate deer data.  Are Black-tailed deer overabundant at 99,000 or 150,000?  Are Mule deer overabundant at 115,000 or 205,000?  And are White-tailed deer overabundant at 87,000 or 140,000?  I don’t think the Ministry knows how many deer there are and therefore have no scientific basis for the claim of overabundance.”

“We have taken the provincial and local government assertions and researched their accuracy.  Deer are blamed for damaging gardens, plantings and community forests, causing increased vehicular collisions, increasing the potential for disease transmission and demonstrating aggressive behaviour,” said Liz White.  “However, our research shows that government claims are largely called into question.  We urge that the Ministry of Environment, and municipalities who have culled or who are considering killing deer, to implement non-lethal measures when approaching human/deer interactions.”

Friday, June 15, 2012

Deer protection group wins right to lawsuit

Devin Kazakoff (left) and Vince Zurbriggen (right)
By Kristian Rasmussen
Pioneer Staff
A group that has rallied to save Invermere’s urban deer population celebrated victory in a legal battle with the District of Invermere.
A Justice for the B.C. Supreme Court ruled on May 29th that the District of Invermere cannot recover legal fees and dismiss previous legal action by the Invermere Deer Protection Society.
The Invermere Deer Protection Society is a group of Columbia Valley residents that formed in opposition to a permit issued by the province that gave the District of Invermere the right to cull up to100 urban deer.
Locking antlers with the district over Invermere’s urban deer population since talk of the cull amped up earlier this year, the anti-cull group filed an injunction and lawsuit against the District of Invermere in an attempt to halt the controversial cull action.
The cull was permitted to move ahead in February, and in response to the overhanging lawsuit, the district counter-sued the group to regain legal costs and dump the protectionists’ lawsuit.
The matter went to the B.C. Supreme Court, which brought down its May ruling, throwing out the district’s attempt to recover legal fees and dismiss the continuing lawsuit by the Invermere Deer Protection Society.
As a result, the town will not recover any of its costs relating to the case, which total close to $30,000 in taxpayer dollars, and the deer protection group is now able to pursue its lawsuit against the district.
“We started this organization to challenge the district’s decision,” said Devin Kazakoff of the Invermere Deer Protection Society. “This means that we can continue to make a difference and protect wildlife and hopefully change the way other cities and towns make their decisions about wildlife management.”
The district worked to have the lawsuit expelled on the grounds that the permit for the deer cull had expired March 15th, and therefore there were no longer legal grounds for a challenge.
The judge presiding over the case found that although the cull permit expired, Invermere council’s August 2011 decision to reduce the urban deer population to 50 by the year 2014 would continue to affect deer populations into the future, and would set a precedent for the rest of B.C., Mr. Kazakoff said.
“This decision will make other towns do their proper research,” he added.
Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said that he is unhappy that Invermere had to be the town made an example of by the lawsuit, because mayor and council were following provincial guidelines.
“Unfortunately it is our taxpayers who have to foot the bill,” Mayor Taft said. “It seems to be their [the Invermere Deer Protection Society’s] goal to use us as a precedent.”
If the anti-cull group really wanted to deal with who is actually responsible for setting protocol when it comes to wildlife management, they would sue the province and not one of the communities that followed provincial recommendations, Mayor Taft added.
Vince Zurbriggen of the Invermere Deer Protection Society said that relying on provincial figures, the District of Invermere did not do enough research of its own when it came to the cull and relied mainly upon findings from other East Kootenay municipalities.
“We want them to do their proper research and not just look at wiping out the deer because they are eating our tulips,” he said. “The district has not concentrated on finding any other solution except for a cull. They have not involved us.”
Conversely, the Invermere Deer Protection Society has made little attempt to work with the District of Invermere, Mayor Taft countered.
“There was the suggestion at one point that if we worked with them and promised not to do any culls in the near future they would hold the lawsuit and not go any further,” he said. “As far as we are aware they have never offered to fully withdraw the lawsuit or stop the legal action.”
The ongoing battle makes it hard for both sides to find middle ground in managing urban deer populations. Mr. Kazakoff said that his society is willing to work with the District of Invermere to settle the law case out of court, if possible.
“This is something that still can be done,” he said. “The DOI doesn’t want to work with us or drop their lawsuit until we would drop ours. We are not going to do that unless they say that there is not going to be a cull. We are both at the same point.”
The ongoing battle has been counterproductive, dividing citizens and costing taxpayers money, Mayor Taft said.
The Invermere Urban Deer Advisory Committee, a council-appointed group of Invermere citizens with varying experience dealing with wildlife, continues to meet and discuss the ongoing urban deer issue.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

BC Supreme Court: Lawsuit Against the District of Invermere to Go Ahead

Judge rules in favour of IDPS


Members of the Invermere Deer Protection Society (IDPS) have won a major court battle against the District of Invermere (DOI) in the latest chapter of the Invermere deer cull saga.
The DOI had made an application to dismiss the civil lawsuit filed against the district in February for its deer protection bylaw permitting a cull and to recover legal costs from the IDPS; however, on Tuesday, May 29, a Supreme Court of British Columbia judge ruled in favour of the IDPS, meaning they are free to continue with their suit to challenge the DOI Urban Deer Management Program.
The district had unsuccessfully argued the lawsuit was now a moot issue as the deer cull permit had already expired, but the judge agreed with the point made by the IDPS that the 2011 council decision to reduce Invermere urban deer numbers to 50 carried implications well into 2014.
“The district is saying that there’s no point in continuing the lawsuit because the cull is over and the permit is expired, but there’s nothing stopping them from killing deer in 2013,” IDPS president Devin Kazakoff told The Valley Echo.
IDPS lawyer Rebeka Breder said the judge agreed with her argument that the lawsuit was not a moot issue. However, there was another reason the judge had stated, which Breder felt was especially important.
“If I were to take anything away from this decision, one of the reasons that he decided not to dismiss [the lawsuit] is because he found that the issues that we’re dealing with have much broader implications in B.C. when it comes to animal control,” Breder said. “I think that’s key, because there aren’t any precedents right now in B.C. dealing with how much public consultation, if any, is required in animal control matters.”
Breder feels this case could set exactly that precedent, and believes it could have Canada-wide implications if the court’s verdict is in their favour when the case is finally heard, likely in the fall or potentially sometime next year.
The IDPS (formerly known as the Invermere Deer Protection Organization, or IDPO) sprang up shortly before Invermere was set to begin their deer cull, which took place in February. The cull was one of several deer control measures council first agreed upon at a DOI meeting in August 2011. District council made the decision based on the recommendations made by the DOI Urban Deer Management Committee, but Kazakoff said the information obtained by that committee is suspect, in particular regarding the overall deer count numbers.
“We’re challenging the bylaw based on the fact that they adopted the deer committees recommendations, which were not done scientifically and were not done properly,” Kazakoff said.
Kazakoff, as a former member of the deer committee before being removed by the district, said that from his firsthand experience the counts were done by unqualified persons and in some cases, he claims, even by children. He also believes the count should be held in the spring or summer, as opposed to the winter months. Stan Markham, who was named the new chair of the deer committee at a DOI meeting on May 22, was not available for comment under the committee's terms of reference set out by council.
“The first and foremost thing is to have the proper research done by the proper people,” Kazakoff said. “We advocate for non-lethal solutions if it is determined there are too many deer in town, which we don’t even know if that’s the case.”
DOI chief administrative officer Chris Prosser said there are further scheduled counts planned for later this year, but declined to comment on the IDPS claims that the count was improperly done.
“They aren’t scientists either,” Prosser said.
“I know that it’s been tossed around that we’re looking for money, but that’s not the case at all, we’re not asking for money,” Kazakoff said. “What happens here could have implications for the whole province and the rest of Canada too. Of course we’ve all been on edge, as a lot hinged on what the judge decided, so we’re all extremely happy about it and now we can move on. It’s a huge win for the organization and it’s a great feeling to know that we’re still making a difference out there, and that we can still stop these culls.”

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

CRD says no to DeerSafe

Members of DeerSafe Victoria are feeling insulted after receiving a letter from the Capital Regional District ignoring their request to remove a member from the deer management advisory group.

Representatives from DeerSafe sent a letter to the CRD on May 14 asking for the removal of Richard Christiansen, a bowhunter, from the citizen’s advisory group and for the appointment of a DeerSafe member.

In a response from CRD Chair Geoff Young, dated May 30, “there was no attempt” to address DeerSafe’s concerns regarding Christiansen, said Kelly Carson, one of the founding members of DeerSafe.

“This is no laughing matter and I don’t appreciate that we’re being laughed at by the CRD, basically, because we’re talking about lives,” Carson said. “We know that there are better ways of handling (deer) than killing them.”

DeerSafe’s main concern is that the advisory group will continue to progress towards a cull.

“It’s pretty clear that the killing solution is going to be the first action to be taken,” Carson said.

More than half of the 11-member committee seems to be leaning towards a pro-cull method of deer management, Carson said, noting that member Lisa Kadonaga’s position is not yet known because of her absence at the CAG’s first two meetings.

Members of DeerSafe have been to both CAG meetings so far and plan to attend them all.

“We’ve been very respectful to the CRD,” Carson said. “We’ve attempted to communicate with them that we have a couple of experts in our group who know about humane alternatives to (culling) deer (but) there’s been no conversation … there’s been no acknowledgement.”

Young has previously stated that it would be unlikely for the board to remove members from the advisory group unless a member was repeatedly absent from meetings or seemed unprepared to participate.

He also stated that while members of the CAG may be representatives from certain groups, the hope is that some common ground can be reached in discussions.

For more information, or to find out when the CAG meets next, go to or email