City applying for wildlife permit

Municipalities need a wildlife permit from the provincial government to legally conduct a deer cull.

City council applying for wildlife permit from the provincial government and is a requirement for approving a deer cull.

City council applying for wildlife permit from the provincial government and is a requirement for approving a deer cull.

Cranbrook is seeking a wildlife permit from the provincial government that would give the city the option of conducting a deer cull in the 2016 calendar year if approved by council.

The issue came up at city council on Monday evening, as a recommendation from the Urban Deer Management Advisory Committee. The provincial government sets the limit on how many deer can be culled, but Cranbrook is seeking a permit of up to 34 animals, with a budget of $17,000 at $494 per animal.

Just because the city is pursuing a wildlife permit doesn’t mean there will be a cull, said councillor Blissett, who also noted that the application process was being done in a public meeting.

“We want to be clear to the public that this is what we’re applying for, this isn’t a secret and this is a public meeting where we are asking the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations for a permit to cull deer in 2016,” Blissett said.

“So that is out there, whether or not we go ahead with it, we’ll discuss later, but we are making that request…just because there was some confusion last year in talking about the translocation as well as the cull and I think some members of the public were under the impression we were only doing a translocation, so it’s clear we have both options available to us.”

Blissett’s comments referenced an in-camera decision made by council to conduct a cull in late December 2015 and early January 2016, where 20 deer were euthanized.

As it currently stands, a cull is the only legal option that municipalities have for urban deer management. The translocation study being conducted by Vast Resource Solutions in four East Kootenay communities, including Cranbrook and Kimberley, is a scientific study and not meant to be a tool for urban deer management.

The study began in late February as Vast Resource Solutions captured 60 deer from Cranbrook, Kimberley, Invermere and Elkford, fitting a number of them with GPS trackers to monitor their movements.

According to a URMAC report from Ian Adams, the senior wildlife biologist with Vast Resource Solutions, the province must amend the Wildlife Act in order for municipalities to have translocation as an option for urban deer management.

“We had Ian Adams from Vast Resources come into this committee meeting and it was kind of exciting to see how well the translocation period was going. The numbers aren’t done, it’s not finished yet, but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of months. It’s looking like in the next couple years, we’ll have another tool in the shed,” said Councillor Isaac Hockley.

Vast Resource Solutions has bought two years of GPS tracking on the radio collars that have been fitted to the translocated deer, and will submit a final report to the provincial government afterwards.

“Let’s be clear on this, the translocation study or trial—we could be three years before we get any results from that,” said Mayor Lee Pratt. “We are getting updates from Vast as it goes on…but the thing is, we can’t not look after doing something in anticipation of what this relocation study is going to produce.

“I’m sure that most people know that in the last two years, there have been more deer born in Cranbrook that we can even come close to culling. If we’re looking at waiting three years for the results of that, it’s not going to be good.”

As far as urban deer complaints go, there hasn’t been much feedback to city hall, however, that usually changes in the fawning season, according to Chris Zettel, the city’s corporate communications officer.

“We find that come the end of May through June is typically when the does have their fawns and that’s when we see the aggression complaints jump up considerably,” Zettel told council.