Damage and vandalism to clover traps and accompanying equipment has significantly impacted Cranbrook’s urban deer cull efforts, according to a report from city staff that will be presented during Monday’s council meeting.
Seven out of 10 traps available from the province have been damaged enough to make them unusable, while game cameras set up to monitor those traps, given vandalism to clover traps during deer cull efforts in the past, were also stolen.
Out of the 10 cameras purchased by the city and set up to monitor the traps, six were stolen and memory cards out of two more cameras were removed.
However, some images were captured and RCMP are investigating.
Clover traps were placed in high deer traffic areas of the city, where the most aggression-related complaints were reported.
The first act of clover trap vandalism — slashed netting — was reported just after operations began in early December. The next day, the contractor arrived to a collapsed clover trap with a deceased mule buck inside and discovered that the netting had been slashed, indicating someone had collapsed the trap onto the deer while attempting to free the animal.
The same month, a spokesperson for an animal rights organization claims a male deer suffocated to death after an ‘improperly assembled’ trap collapsed on the animal.
At the end of January, the contractor reported that a clover trap was set on fire in a private yard, next to a camping trailer. There was no damage to the resident’s property and police are investigating all incidents.
Given the trap vandalism, only six deer have been captured and euthanized — three mule deer, three whitetail deer — while the wildlife permit issued by the provincial government allows for 60 mule deer and 10 whitetail.
However, a higher number of whitetail deer are being reported in target areas based on information provided by the contractor. In response, the city has formally requested the provincial government amend the terms of the wildlife permit to remove 35 mule deer and 35 whitetail deer.
In the meantime, efforts will continue to fulfill the terms of the original wildlife permit, which expires on March 31, 2020.
Staff from the city and the provincial government also conducted an urban deer population count on Feb. 4 and results should be available for Monday’s city council meeting.
The latest numbers, collected in December 2018, indicate an urban deer population of 67 mule deer and 31 whitetail deer.
City council approved the urban deer cull in October, citing public safety concerns.