Monday, July 24, 2017

Why Deer Lovers Should Defend Bears

Photo courtesy of Jim Lawrence

We have a new provincial government in power.  The NDP campaigned on the promise that they would ban the grizzly trophy hunt, and we want to see that promise kept.

Many of us know that the hunting lobby has worked closely with the former BC Liberals for sixteen years, and that they've utilized their friends in high places to erode animal protections, increasing hunting "opportunities" in our Province.  Some of us know the close relations between high profile Kootenay hunters and MLAs of the day, and the financial benefits that came their way, and not just in the guide outfitting industry.  But I'll get to that in a minute. 

When the Dogwood Initiative exposed that a $60,000 cheque had been sent to the Guide Outfitters of BC from the trophy hunting organization Safari Club International to boost the BC Liberal campaign, the extent of the corruption came as a surprise.  It shouldn't have.  

In September 2011 the CBC ran an article [Kootenay to Cull Urban Deer] that Cranbrook, Invermere and Kimberley were going to cull their urban deer using a method from Helena, Montana. The method was unheard of in British Columbia.  Deer would be caught in baited traps (called clover traps) during the night, and some time in the early morning hours two contractors would collapse the trap onto the deer, throw their body weight on the animals and attempt to hit them in their heads with a bolt gun that was designed for slaughtering animals in abattoirs. 

The cities of Cranbrook and Kimberley had created deer committees some months before this announcement.  On them were two high profile game hunters; Carmen Purdy and Ron Kerr.  Both Purdy and Kerr quit the committee to travel to Helena, Montana to learn first-hand how the method was conducted.  At the same time, the BC Liberals provided $15,000 to fund the "ground-breaking program" [CBC Nov 2011, These Nets Stop Deer, Not Pucks]. Ten traps were built, two bolt guns and a plastic sled were purchased.

The contracts in the first year were awarded to local hunters, which included Carmen Purdy.  Purdy was culling in Elkford in 2014, where he set traps during daylight hours and an 8-year-old boy saw the cull happen.  Ron Kerr applied to cull Oak Bay deer in 2015, receiving $16,000 to kill 11 deer.  He was the only applicant.

Grand Forks and Invermere secured standing permits to trap/bolt gun their urban deer over five year and three year periods respectively.

The hunting lobby had created for itself a nice little cottage industry, and it came at the expense of peace of mind for most urban dwellers.  Appeals to the province for more humane deer management were met with the statement that culling was the only permitted method to control urban deer.

Our province is long overdue for a science-based, compassionate approach to wildlife management.  One that isn't driven solely by the emotional assertion that hunters have the right to kill animals for their pleasure and recreation. Or pin money.  British Columbian wildlife also belongs to the majority of non-consumptive residents.

There is finally hope that British Columbia has a government that will listen to the majority.

Carmen Purdy receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal from then MLA Bill Bennett


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