The City of Cranbrook’s urban deer report, released to Council and the public on Monday, detailed the latest statistics of the City’s management and reduction of its urban deer herd, including more than 1,800 pounds of ground venison distributed to various agencies.
At Monday night’s meeting, April 9, Cranbrook City Council directed City staff to forward a copy of the latest urban deer report to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO), and, further to apply for a wildlife permit for the fall of 2018.
Councillor Ron Popoff wanted to know whether such an application would “handcuff” a new City Council, seeing as how a municipal election is also in the offing for this fall.
Chris Zettel, Corporate Communications Officer for the City of Cranbrook, said he didn’t believe so. “If the new council doesn’t agree with [use of a wildlife permit], they don’t have to use it.”
Coun. Wesly Graham said the City should apply for a translocation permit at the same time as the wildlife permit — a permit to cull individuals out the urban herd. Translocation operations — where the deer are sedated, dressed with a radio collar, and delivered into the wild — took place earlier this year in Kimberley, and have taken place in Cranbrook on a trial basis as well.
“We want to make sure we apply for all options, like translocation,” Graham said. Mayor Lee Pratt agreed with Graham.
Coun. Norma Blissett mentioned that the deer cull that took place over the past winter was the first in which 50 deer were culled, the maximum allowed under the wildlife permit issued to the City in the fall of 2017.
“It will be interesting to see what the effect is on the population [of the urban deer herd],” Blissett said.
The deer count in Cranbrook as of January, 2018, was 62 animals, 42 of which were mule deer. This count was lower than in previous years, from a high 137 (2015) to a previous low of 96 (2012).
Areas of Cranbrook targeted for population reduction during the winter were based on complaints received by the City from the public in 2017. Seven locations were deemed suitable for clover traps. The City hired and managed contractors to conduct the culls, and paid for the venison to be ground and distributed to First Nations and the permitted food banks.
According to the City’s urban deer report, 50 animals were culled — 30 mule deer and 20 whitetails.
“The majority of the deer removed were captured in more central areas of the community where deer aggression complaints were most abundant over the past two years,” the deer report read. “Based on the results of this recent population control effort, most of the public complaints appear to have been around aggressive whitetail deer, not mule deer, which historically have been reported to be the more aggressive of the two species.”
The report added that from the perspective of the contractors, the City of Cranbrook and the MFLNRO all permit conditions were met regarding animal handling.
“Meat was processed by a government approved meat cutter. All the edible meat was ground into burger, wrapped, frozen and distributed to the Cranbrook Food Bank, Street Angels (Ktunaxa First Nation) and the Salvation Army. A total of 1,852 pounds of deer meat was processed into ground meat.
“The meat was very good quality with only positive comments received.”