Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oak Bay Mayor making it up as he goes along.

In September 2013 the Mayor and council of Oak Bay voted to proceed with a "pilot project" to clover trap/bolt gun 25 deer in their municipality.  Apparently the district of Oak Bay is unaware that they have no jurisdiction over wildlife that exist within their boundaries. Deer belong to the Province, and legally any group, any self governing body, must ask permission in the form of a permit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations BEFORE making decisions about property that belongs to the provincial government.

During recent meetings with members of the public Mayor Jensen has attempted to mitigate the charges by deer advocacy groups and the BCSPCA that clover traps are cruel by suggesting that clover traps can be rigged with electronic devices to notify the killing contractor when deer enter traps, to reduce the time they spend suffering before being killed.  This technology has not been researched by any of the municipalities that have clover trap/bolt gunned deer in our province to date. Such a device would be very costly, each requiring a SIM card and subscription service to relay data back to a server. This would add approximately $200.00 per trap to the cost of the pilot project, and has not been discussed with provincial permitting offices. Mayor Jensen has also failed to inform the residents he spoke with that these devices would necessitate an increase to the $12,500.00 budget that has been allocated for this “pilot project" to kill 25 deer.
Are Oak Bay residents prepared to absorb the cost of another couple hundred dollars per deer to make it slightly less brutal, or would everyone rather see less expensive non-lethal management? Now that Mayor Jensen has opened this topic for conversation, perhaps he should have a meaningful dialogue about it with Oak Bay residents, if not the Province.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jan 23 Deer in Elkford Still Trapped in daylight

The deer in Elkford are being culled in daylight hours, in direct violation of the terms of MFLNRO permit conditions.  This photo was taken by an Elkford resident on January 23, 2014.  The traps are in plain view of residents, and are still being set during daylight hours.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elkford Chief Administration officer: "we just have to keep moving forward"

Elkford given go ahead to continue with deer cull

Following an investigation and a one week suspension, the permit for Elkford's deer cull has been reinstated. While a date has not yet been set, the District of Elkford is free to resume culling deer anytime up until March 10.
[The District] has received a warning and will now be under a much more watchful eye around observing the permit conditions,” said John Krebs, regional manager, Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs, Kootenay Boundary Region of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. “We did reinstate the permit on Thursday afternoon (January 16) last week and Elkford is now remobilizing things to get their people and their equipment organized to reinitiate the operational part of the cull.”
The District of Elkford initially began the cull at the start of January to decrease the population of 78-148 mule deer currently living within town limits. A license was issued by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Operations, allowing the District to kill up to 50 mule deer with the use of a clover trap and bolt gun. The 14 page permit issued outlined several guidelines and regulations, including that deer only be harvested during the night.
We suspended the permit on January 7 due to some complaints and concerns that we had with trapping outside of permit conditions, specifically trapping during daylight hours, which is not consistent with the permit,” explained Krebs. “We did an investigation with the Conservation Officer Service once we suspended the permit with the parties and followed up with that in Elkford.”
He went on to say, “We sat down with the District and the contractor and the Conservation Officers over the whole situation and what the complaints and concerns were. We've made it very clear that we expect that the operation meets the terms of the permit.”
With the permit reinstated, the District is cautiously moving forward with the deer cull.
We are going to work on a game plan,” commented Curtis Helgesen, chief administrative officer, District of Elkford. “There has been a few things that have changed since we first started harvesting, so we're working on having that game plan approved by the province and Interior Health, and then completing the cull by no later than March 10.”
Feedback from the community has been mixed and the District has been dealing with concerns from outside and environmental groups as well. This is despite the fact that 70 per cent of the 433 Elkford residents who completed a survey about the urban deer issue in 2010 wanted to see a moderate decrease in the herd by 30 to 40 per cent.
There are some people hopefully that have contacted us that are strongly against it and there are some people who have come forward that want to provide those words of encouragement to council that they support the decision,”said Helgesen. “Locally in Elkford, there are some people that are really impacted by it and there are some people that are still for it, but we just have to keep moving forward.”
Krebs is hopeful that the District will be able to continue on with the cull without any further issues.
We had to reexamine what their procedures were, but it was just about making sure we had confidence that the District and the contractor could follow the terms of the permit,” he said. “We've had that assurance and we'll have some staff oversee things as well. So we'll be watching, but I think they've got what they need to do the job properly. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road, they're back on track, and we'll get that work completed in the next few weeks.
The District reported that ten deer were harvested before the cull was initially suspended on January 6 and 7. All were mule deer, two males and the rest female, with a roughly 50/50 mix of adults and juveniles. The meat will be processed into ground meat and provided to local food banks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Society seeks revocation of Elkford cull permit

Posted: January 14, 2014

In reaction to the news that the District of Elkford cull permit was suspended pending a Conservation Officer investigation, the BC Deer Protection Society has called for a complete revocation of the Elkford permit for 2014.
The permit requires compliance,” said Liz White, spokesperson for the BC Deer Protection Society. “It is all very clearly stated in the General Conditions section which has as the first statement, ‘The permit holder must comply with all laws applicable to the activities carried out under this permit.’ Yet on the very first day of the cull the permit holder, the District of Elkford violated the conditions.”
The ministry has every right to revoke the permit under the Compliance Advisory section,” White continued. The Compliance Advisory states:  Failure to comply with any term of this permit is an offence under the Wildlife Act, and may result in any or all of prosecution, suspension of the permit, cancellation of the permit, ineligibility for future permits and denial of future permit requests.
Despite this Compliance Advisory, the district, as the permit holder and CP Trapping, as the permit implementer violated the permit by conducting the cull during daylight hours, said Devin Kazakoff, spokespersons for the Invermere Deer Protection Society and the BC Deer Protection Society.
They did so even though I notified Mr. Van Tighem on that same day that the district was in violation,” Kazakoff continued.  “Mr. Purdy, the contractor responsible for conducting three prior culls, was operating under a permit with the same restrictions as the previous permits with regard to the designated times to cull.
Given the blatant nature of the violation both on the part of the district and the contractor, we want the permit be cancelled and charges be considered” said Kazakoff.
Anything less than cancellation and possible charges will send a message to such contractors and other municipalities that they can violate the permit with a tap on the hand,” said White. “The ministry staff must make it clear that this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The district responded by issuing a statement Jan. 10, that also provided an update to the public on its deer cull.
The harvest commenced on January 6 and was temporarily suspended on the 7th by the province. Unfortunately the contractor violated a condition of the permit by harvesting deer on the sixth prior to darkness. An investigation by the district and the province immediately commenced and the matter has been addressed,” the district outlined.
Elkford’s permit authorizes the district to harvest up to 50 deer.
District chief administrative officer Curtis Helgesen told e-KNOW that town officials will be meeting with the province later this week to discuss the status of the permit.
Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Deer cull in Elkford suspended for one week

The deer cull in Elkford has been suspended for one week as the Conservation Officer Service investigate. - Tamara Hynd
The deer cull in Elkford has been suspended for one week as the Conservation Officer Service investigate.
— image credit: Tamara Hynd

Elkford’s deer cull has been suspended for one week after the contractor was caught trapping during daylight hours, in violation of permit specifications. The permit specifies trapping is to take place in pre-dawn hours.
“We take permit violations very seriously,” said John Krebs, Regional Manager Recreational Fisheries and Wildlife Programs Kootenay Boundary Region of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  “We suspended the permit yesterday afternoon (January 7) for a period of one week over concerns with the timing of cull operations.”
“The Conservation Officer Service will complete an investigation to gather information and determine if enforcement action is appropriate. We will review the suspension in one week to assess next steps.”
The District reported that ten deer were harvested on Jan. 6 and 7. All were mule deer in apparently good condition. Two were males and the rest female, with an approximately 50/50 mix of adults and juveniles. The meat will be processed into ground meat and provided to local food banks.
Some Elkford residents do not agree with the District's choice to execute a deer cull to lower the approximate 78-148 mule deer that are inhabiting the town limits. Environmental groups are also voicing their concerns.
“The contract violator had killed 10 deer and should not be permitted to continue to get permits. The permit should be revoked permanently!” stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Foundation, founding director.
B.C. Deer Protection Coalition are holding a spotlight on the Elkford deer cull, making statements that the cull contractor Carmen Purdy of CP Trapping was killing deer in daylight.
However the District of Elkford feels “the urban deer harvest is proceeding well minus the unfortunate issue with the contractor trapping in the day light.”
“Unfortunately the contractor did harvest in daylight contrary to the permit requirements,” said District CAO Curtis Helgesen. “Due to the extreme cold at the time, the deer were not moving at night and in the daytime they spent less time in the traps, it was felt this was more humane.
“This was an incorrect decision based on the permit requirements, and the District is cooperating with the province as they investigate the issue.”
Any animal cull is controversial as the District of Elkford is finding out.
“The community has mixed feelings,” said Helgesen, “but as before the harvest, the majority appears to be in support of the operation with phone calls and emails of support, while the minority is being more vocal on social media.
“Unfortunately the facts are suffering due to the exaggeration of the issues by outside interests, but we are confident that most in Elkford support this operation as being what is best for the urban deer population in the long term.”
The District of Elkford began culling mule deer under the licence issued by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Operations. The license allows the District to kill up to 50 mule deer with the use of a clover trap and bolt gun with several guidelines and legislation attached to the 14 page permit.
As the permit holder, the District must maintain an up-to-date record of the deer harvested. Information required is an ID number, species, date the wildlife was taken, location, gender, age, health status and the use of the carcass.  A final report must be submitted to the Permit and Authorization Service Bureau within 21 days of the permit's expiry on March 10, 2014.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The BC Deer Protection Coalition exposes Elkford cull permit contraventions.

The BC Deer Protection Coalition has been following events in Elkford since the deer cull began yesterday.  Check the website often as trap locations are mapped and witnesses come forward.

Elkford's culling permit is also posted here.  See here how the cull contractor, CP Holdings, has violated the permit's conditions on the first day of the kill.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Victoria, please deal with your deer

Posted: January 1, 2014

mee-KNOW Editorial
By Ian Cobb
Are you ready for another few chapters in the urban deer control story unfolding across B.C. in 2014?
More and more municipal councils across the province are contending with questions about how to deal with growing deer populations in their towns.
The District of Invermere, one of the grizzled veterans in this tale, intends to take another run at its urban herds this year. In 2011, armed with a permit to cull 50, the district removed 19 via clover net trapping and bolt gun dispatching. It received another permit to remove 100 more deer but the lengthy and expensive court challenge from the Invermere Deer Protection Society interrupted those plans. The district still intends to conduct another cull, citing continued problems with deer and pointing at a November opinion poll where 74 per cent of respondents stated they agree with a cull being done. Opposition is small in number, says Mayor Gerry Taft, and democracy will win the day and not be bullied.
The other grizzled veteran in this tale is the City of Cranbrook, the location where, thanks to a 2010 viral video of a doe stomping an innocent old dog, the urban deer problem really entered the realm of large public discourse. In 2011 the first provincial permit was issued and the city culled 25 deer. A second permit for 50 deer was provided last winter but city council opted to sit on it to see how the Invermere court challenge panned out. There is still consensus among council members for the city to conduct another cull in the near future.
The City of Kimberley forayed into the cull world second in January 2012 and about 100 animals were culled.
District of Elkford now intends to conduct its own version of a ‘harvest,’ to thin numbers.
Now, it may not seem unusual to citified types in Vancouver or Victoria to note that the hillbillies in the East Kootenay are whacking the deer in their towns.
But scrap that picture and notion.
The latest municipality ready to hit the cull trail – stuffy, tweed-wearing ole Oak Bay. Wealthy retirees don’t need no stinkin’ deer eatin’ their shrubs and stampin’ toward their yippin’ shitpoos neither!
Clearly, when the grandparents and great grandparents of many of the province’s rules and regulations crafting law weasels are screaming at city hall to bolt a batch of Bambis, the time has come for that same pack of legislative manipulators and taxpayer resource dispensation drones to sit the hell down and find a way to provide real help to municipalities in dealing with the urban deer issue.
The Ministry Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations published an urban deer management factsheet last year that noted urban deer are now a safety concern due to growing numbers of conflicts between people and pets, deer-automobile collisions and the tendency of deer to attract predators.
Parents of young children are terrified their wee one will be gored or kick-thumped on the way home from school.
Those same parents used to worry about their kids running into mean dogs but dog bylaws got that under control, mostly. In the old days, when dogs ran loose ad nauseum, they chased deer. We cared for the deer so much back then that ‘dogs chasing deer’ was one of the reasons citizens provided when demanding their councils enact dog control bylaws. It was certainly the case in the District of Invermere.
Several generations of deer have now grown up within Invermere, never knowing the terror of a pack of roaming dogs cornering them in a yard and chasing them back into the adjacent provincial wilderness.
And there is the big, gnarly rub – the provincial wilderness.
By law, the wildlife in B.C. belong to all of us – and more specifically, the B.C. government. The deer our municipalities are trying to contend with belong to the province. What does the province do about deer? Well, it provides the odd permit for municipalities to cull its deer. Effectively, it is passing the buck and downloading a responsibility.
It is nutless and gutless and totally pass-the-buckless.
Opponents of culling cite other, usually more expensive means to control deer populations. That’s a tough sell when a good chunk of your population would rather pull the 30.06 out and blaze away in order to cut the deer numbers back.
It is time our provincial leaders took the necessary steps and created a program that municipalities could access to help them find the best solutions to their deer problems.
The purpose of municipal councils is to make sure their infrastructure is working as good as possible – water, sewer, waste, roads etc. These part-time leaders, most making pittances to wear the hairshirts of office, should not be pondering the demise of sections of the province’s deer herds.
There has been enough downloading the past 20 years – courtesy the NDP and the Liberal governments – and it is time that greasy nonsense stopped.
Urban deer are not an Invermere or Cranbrook issue – they are a provincial issue that needs to be solved in Victoria.
It’s arrived on Vancouver Island in the form of the Oak Bay cull and we are certain there will be a firestorm of discontent from anti-cull folks over that. Perhaps that will be enough to make our provincial government start doing the right thing when it comes to its own deer.