Friday, December 28, 2012

No second deer cull on the way for Invermere

By Kate Irwin
Pioneer Staff
Invermere council will not seek a second deer cull until the results of the lawsuit against the municipality are known and the public have been further consulted, mayor Gerry Taft has stated.
With a lawsuit looming in late January and no further solutions put forward by the province for management of Invermere’s urban deer population, the District of Invermere has no current plans for further action to control the number of deer in town, he added.
“There is definitely no desire to apply for any cull permits or take any action pre-lawsuit,” Mayor Taft said. “The outcome of the lawsuit dictates how we will proceed with deer management afterwards.”
Devin Kazakoff, president of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, which is suing the district, confirmed the group will be moving ahead with their trial against the District of Invermere. The court date is set for January 30th and the group is seeking public donations to help fund their legal action.
“We’re setting out to dismiss the bylaw put in place in August 2011 to reduce deer numbers in town to 50,” Mr. Kazakoff said. “We challenge how [council] came to the conclusion that we need to reduce their population.”
The group, established in January 2012 in reaction to the planned 100-animal deer cull, is also seeking to have recommendations adopted by council from Invermere’s Urban Deer Advisory Committee thrown out by a judge. These recommendations included a trap and cull program, relocation of deer during spring 2012, and an ultimate goal of reducing the urban deer population in Invermere to 50 deer by 2014.
“A lot of residents love the deer and want to see them protected,” Mr. Kazakoff said.
If animals must be removed from the community, his group proposes non-lethal solutions, including relocation and driving the animals out of town with trained dogs. Neither solution is currently permitted by the province of British Columbia.
The news the lawsuit will continue comes shortly after a volunteer group concluded the third deer count of the year to establish population figures. The number of animals recorded ranged from 185 the first weekend to 220 on the second count, with numbers dropping to 148 on the final weekend.
The discrepancy in numbers from the final count was likely due to poor weather, said Stan Markham, a member of the Urban Deer Advisory Committee involved in the count.
“We did three counts on consecutive Saturdays in November,” he added. “The figures were pretty much what we were expecting … The method of counting we use fairly accurately ensures no animals are counted twice.”
The numbers will be used to determine the biological and cultural carrying capacity of deer in Invermere, Mr. Markham explained.
The biological carrying capacity is the maximum deer population that the environment within the District of Invermere can sustain indefinitely. The cultural carrying capacity is the maximum number of animals the human population will tolerate — a point of some debate between the municipality and the group bringing the lawsuit against them.
Members of the Invermere Deer Protection Society were invited along to observe the final count on November 24th. In the past, the group has publicly criticized the method of conducting the count and the necessity behind it.
“We don’t agree that counting the deer is necessarily the way to go,” Mr. Kazakoff said. “They don’t have an objective as to why they are doing the count.
“We also question the methods of counting: it’s not accurate at all.”
The deer count was carried out by a total of 38 volunteers, who were paired up and each given one of seven areas of town to survey deer numbers in. The Wilder subdivision was found to have the largest numbers of mule deer, with the only whitetail deer spotted in CastleRock Estates and Athalmer.
Volunteers drove every street and alley in Invermere over a two-hour period, counting by foot in areas inaccessible by vehicle, and noted down the species, gender and age of animals spotted. But the deer protection society president argues that counting by vehicle does not produce accurate results.
Mr. Markham agrees that the counters will not see each and every animal, as participants do not enter backyards or crawl down into gullies to check for animals there, but said that this only serves to slightly underestimate numbers of deer in town.
“You can be relatively certain that we never over-count; there are always more deer than we see on the days of the count,” he said. “When counting the borders of each area, the groups walk the boundary together. It makes the possibility of counting animals twice very minimal.”
The Invermere Deer Protection Society, which claims on its website to speak for “the people of Invermere” is vehemently opposed to the killing of any deer and has publicly criticized Invermere’s mayor and council for what they say was inadequate public consultation before the original deer cull took place.
Mayor Taft counters that when the public were consulted via survey in January 2011, little negative feedback was received from the community, indicating that the protection group may not speak for the majority of residents.
“Going forward, a public survey or referendum is key because this is such a heated topic,” he said. “I think the direction has to come from residents, then the responsibility for decisions is one shared by the whole community.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our Letter to the CRD December 18, 2012

To CRD Chair and Members of the Board of Directors:
We are writing on behalf of DeerSafe Victoria to express our disappointment in the way the deer management issue is being addressed in the CRD. At the December 12, 2012 meeting of the Capital Regional District Board, a request was made to expedite the Regional Deer Management Strategy process undertaken by the CRD in order to placate one or several Saanich farmers. Furthermore, an offer to work through the holidays was stated by a Director.

Included in this promise was a fast-tracking of the goose management strategy, the process of which has not been completed by the CRD's appointed Regional Canada Goose Management Working Group. The last document on your website indicates only that a progress report was filed February 29, 2012.

We would like to take this time to point out to the Board that planned culls in five BC communities have been “put on hold” due to a legal challenge before the BC Supreme Court concerning the deer management strategy undertaken in Invermere, with some publicly stating their reasons for doing so.

Chris Zettel, corporate communications officer for the City of Cranbrook, was quoted by the Canadian Press August 11, 2012: “I think there's an appetite here perhaps to maybe stand back and wait and see what happens with the court case involving Invermere.”

Penticton city staff has recommended to council that no further action be taken, at least until a lawsuit against the district of Invermere has been settled.” BC Local News, November 20, 2012.

Furthermore, the CRD is the only region in the province that has divided deer into three distinct categories: urban, rural and agricultural. Only a few members of the public have identified the issue of “agricultural deer” as a critical impetus for a cull of deer.

Therefore, we think it would be wise for the Capital Regional District to join the other communities in BC and adopt a prudent approach until more detailed information is available in the province regarding the legal aspects of the deer management issue. Until then, we ask that the CRD and its municipalities refrain from taking any action in this matter without first consulting with the public.


Kelly Carson
Nabhraj Spogliarich
Jordan Reichert

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Farmer counts deer, geese as friends

Judy Lavoie , Times Colonist December 16, 2012

Deer and geese can be prevented from munching through crops if farmers work with their natural patterns and behaviours, says a successful Blenkinsop Valley organic farmer.
Farmers throughout the Capital Regional District are struggling to stop deer and geese destroying crops. Some farmers are closing fields or reducing crop varieties, and the CRD board is preparing strategies to deal with the animals.
But Nathalie Chambers of Madrona Farm has deer corridors, where deer are fed leftover veggies, and fields where geese snack on winter cover plants, leaving behind droppings to enrich the soil for next year’s crop.
“We love the deer in this area. They even sleep in my greenhouse sometimes. It’s like a homeless shelter,” said Chambers, who farms the 10-hectare property on Blenkinsop Road with her husband, David.
Bucks gather in the two-hectare corridor and appear to have bachelor parties, Chambers said.
As a bonus, a parcel that was sold to Saanich as an addition to Mount Douglas Park acts as an extension of the deer corridor.
“Deer have cellular memories of the traditional trails they take, and that’s one of the things we have to figure out,” said Chambers, who believes many problems Greater Victoria residents are facing are caused by deer being fenced out of traditional routes.
“[At Madrona], we are putting the deer into the equation, rather than shutting them out,” she said.
While deer are welcome in the corridor, they are firmly shut out of other areas at Madrona Farm.
Page-wire fences, at least 1.8 metres high and topped with barbed wire, surround the fields, and a deer-proof wire gate, decorated with golf clubs, marks the no-go area for deer.
“We have an understanding: We feed them behind the stand, and they shall not pass the gate,” said Chambers, who has had few problems with deer breaking into the prohibited areas.
Farther down Blenkinsop Road, farmer Rob Galey, with about 60 hectares under cultivation, has little faith in fences and says deer barge through holes or teach their fawns to burrow under fences.
Galey is giving up leases on about 12 hectares of farmland because of problems with deer and geese.
While Madrona Farm is smaller, Chambers cannot see that size makes a difference.
“It’s not about size. This works,” she said.
Proof comes in the exotic shapes and colours of the organic veggies that are sold at the farm stall and to high-end restaurants year round.
More than 100 crops are produced over the 12-month cycle and, this month, range from Brussels sprouts, squash and kale to rutabagas, parsnips and leeks.
Everything, except long-lasting items such as garlic and squash, is sold the same day it is picked, and leftovers are given to shelters or fed to the deer.
Canada geese are also offered options at Madrona Farm.
“Goose poop every foot is good,” said Chambers, who plants cover crops such as native sunflowers, bee balm, clover and chickweed once the main crop is off the field.
“The geese eat the cover crops, and then they poop,” she said.
That is brilliant for the soil and revives it for the next year without having to revert to fertilizers or pesticides, Chambers said, pointing proudly to her compost.
“We have had it tested, and it’s like gold,” she said.
But the geese get a strong message from strands of blue twine that they cannot land in fields without cover crops.
“They won’t land if there’s something that impairs their takeoff or landing,” Chambers said. “We get no predation from geese.”
The goose-deterrent strings are tied to trees, again demonstrating that there are benefits to leaving an ecosystem intact, Chambers said.
“We can’t keep tinkering. We can’t remove things from the ecosystem and expect it to function,” she said.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wildlife Management Hits a Snag in BC with Low Deer Numbers - Wolves Must be the Problem. Cull Them.

Dwindling deer numbers in southeast B.C. worry hunters

Timothy Schafer, Trail Daily Times
TRAIL — Unlike Greater Victoria, where concerns are about an abundance of deer, hunters in southeastern B.C. are worried about how few of the animals they’re finding.
With the region’s hunting season now mostly in the bag, the head of the Trial Wildlife Association says there was little success for hunters hoping to put venison in their freezer this winter. Terry Hanik says hunters from Nelson to Castlegar, Trail, Creston and Grand Forks, noticed a sparse population of deer — both white tail and mule.
He says the low deer count is concerning and hunters are wondering how to re-establish the natural balance.
Hunters have noticed a high number of predators including wolves, coyotes, cougars and even black bears.
Hanik suggests the remedy could be to get rid of some of the fiercest beasts, but although local wildlife associations have been lobbying for the province to formulated some controls a plan has not yet been implemented. “You talk to different hunters and they aren’t happy. The odd hunter is getting their game,” he said. “We need a management plan to see what we can do with the deer, and why their numbers are down.”
The province released a draft plan in November for managing the grey wolf population, including the continuation of wolf hunting and the culling of animals in some areas.
“We have no other way if we want to save our deer, but also moose and elk,” said Hanik. “We are in bad shape all over. There has to be a remedy [soon] or else we are in dire straits.”
The province has found wolf numbers are stable, increasing by about 400 over the last 20 years to 8,500. But the plan also noted that in some parts of the southern Interior wolves are killing livestock and endangered mountain caribou.
In contrast, Hanik said he counted fewer than 100 deer in an area south of Trail between March and October. “At one time you used to be able to see 600 to 700 deer down in the area. Now you are lucky if you can count 75 to 100 down there,” he said.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


CRD directors urge quick action on deer to save farms

Bill Cleverley , Times Colonist December 13, 2012

Saying the problem farmers are having with deer is reaching a crisis point, Capital Regional District directors on Wednesday urged fast action on a proposed deer management strategy.
The strategy will go to municipalities for consideration and feedback — a necessary next step before appealing to the province to implement measures outside of local control, such as a cull or changes to hunting regulations.
CRD directors also agreed to spend $150,000 to implement the strategy and to have staff fast-track discussions with municipalities with large agricultural areas, such as Saanich, Central Saanich and North Saanich.
Saanich farmer Rob Galey said the time for action is now, adding that fencing is not working
“These are not wild deer any more. They live here and they are not going anywhere. There is no real option here but to have a cull,” Galey said, adding he prefers a regional strategy to deal with the problem rather than having to resort to killing deer on his property himself.
Unless action is taken, local farms will be lost, he said. “You guys are going to have to stand up today and decide whether you want to save your farms or not because I’m here to tell you we’re not going to make it a couple of more years with losses like this year.”
North Saanich Coun. Ted Daly also said there is no time for delay. “We can’t just keep sitting back, the 24 or 25 of us, because this process keeps evolving,” he said.
A CRD citizens advisory committee recommended different options for rural, agricultural and urban areas and includes a gamut of possible options from fencing to a reduction of deer population.
Deterrents must be considered before the regional district will ask the province to approve a cull or to change hunting regulations.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said sending the report to municipalities is the logical next step.
“I believe this is the absolute best approach we can take in order to get measures in place for the spring planting season for the farmers,” he said.
After receiving the report, each municipality would decide which measures it wants to adopt, Ranns said. “The expectation would be that the CRD would then act as a central agency in taking the recommendations from the municipalities to the province.”
Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks said it makes sense to tailor deer management to urban, rural and agricultural areas.
“We should focus on one thing — that’s how to give the farmers the tools to protect their crops. I suggest that means unlimited year-round hunting with no bag limit on farms,” Hicks said.
CRD directors also endorsed a goose management strategy that calls for co-operation with farmers, the province and First Nations. The strategy includes habitat modification, egg addling (shaking eggs so they don’t hatch) and more efficient hunting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The CRD Board has decided to lead the region in some deer management solutions. These will include regional bylaw models on feeding deer, speed limits where deer collisions are most likely, and providing information on deer-resistant plantings. Board Chairman Young even suggests that the CRD could discuss immuno-contraception with the federal government.

But no one would touch the topic of culling in the CRD at the November 28 Planning, Transportation and Protective Services meeting. No one but the gardeners who spoke, that is. Landscape designer Lynn Morton stated, “Get rid of them. All of them. The sooner the better.”

The CRD Board will not be recommending lethal action against the deer – that chore will still fall to the municipalities, who will claim to be acting on the needs of their residents/taxpayers.

Sharp shooting and bowhunting in residential areas is off the table, but clover trap/bolt gun killing is favoured in the Citizen's Advisory Group's recommendations as a method to destroy inconvenient deer that avoids the use of missiles.

That is why DeerSafe Victoria sent a survey to 13 mayors and councilors. The communities with the highest number of complaints are the ones that are going to be pressured into lethal action. The CRD Board will not be footing the bill for culls in the region, but the municipalities will.

The municipalities erroneously believe that the CRD Board will be taking the lead in deer management across the region. The lethal solution will fall squarely on their shoulders. The public on both sides of the debate wants to know how knowledgable their mayors and councilors are about an issue that is likely to escalate in the coming months.

The survey as it currently stands:

"We're dealing with...much broader implications in B.C."

Cull case before the courts
Published: December 05, 2012 8:00 AM
Updated: December 05, 2012 8:21 AM
Carolyn Grant

Several communities are waiting for a result from the lawsuit launched against the District of Invermere by the Invermere Deer Protection Society (IDPS).

Penticton City Council decided in November to postpone their planned cull until there is a result in the court case. Cranbrook and Kimberley will also wait to see what the courts decide when the case goes to trial in January.

The case is complex, but the issue appears to be whether the District of Invermere consulted properly with its residents before beginning a cull last February. That cull only took 20 animals before a court injunction stopped it.

Last May, a Supreme Court of British Columbia judge ruled in favour of the IDPS, meaning they were free to continue with their suit to challenge the DOI Urban Deer Management Program.

While the District argued there was no reason to continue the lawsuit as their cull permit had already expired, the judge did not agree.

IDPS lawyer Rebeka Breder told the Invermere Valley Echo that 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."

Meanwhile other communities have not quite reached the point of deciding a cull is necessary.

The latest deer counts in Grand Forks have shown a reduction in numbers from the previous years.
In Fernie, Council has stated they will not consider a cull at this time, but they have contacted other municipalities and asked to be kept apprised of how they may be dealing with the deer situation.