Communities await court ruling

Many municipalities delaying cull decisions until decision is rendered in January

Kimberley is not the only community 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 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.”

There is enough uncertainty around the case that other municipalities which may be pondering a cull will wait until a decision is reached.

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.

This also brings up the issue of how scientific the deer counts are. The IDPS challenged the District of Invermere on that front as well earlier this year, saying they were improperly done. While the District maintains the counts were proper, they have invited representatives of the IDPS to accompany them on this year’s counts and observe how they are carried out.

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. At present Fernie Council has decided not to act because they believe the majority of their residents would be against a cull. However, they have not ruled out the possibility of a need for one in the future.