The deer cull is on hold indefinitely in Cranbrook after four provincially-owned clover traps were vandalized overnight Thursday.
Around 5:30am Friday morning, City contractors making their early morning rounds discovered the four traps had the netting slashed making them unusable. All of the traps were located on private property.
The RCMP was immediately notified and an investigation is underway.
I'm very disappointed," said Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt. "I think the people responsible for it don't know the facts around the deer cull, so it's disappointing that they're acting on improper information.
"We're going to halt the cull now, of course, but we're going to go ahead and try to get permit—hopefully for two years—and we're going to continue to work with the other communities that we've partnered up with, and the province, to look into the relocation idea.
"Either way, we feel strongly for safety reasons, if none other, that the deer have to be gone out of town."
Pratt says the RCMP is investigating the vandalized traps and that the matter can result in criminal and civil charges.
"In talking to the RCMP, we are going to pursue finding the culprits and there will be probably two means of prosecution—one would be through the RCMP and whatever charges they come up with and there's probably going to be a civil suit for damages," Pratt said.
The deer cull program began on Sunday, February 22, 2015 with the setup and baiting of traps and concluded overnight Thursday, March 5, 2015, with a total of 4 mule deer—one adult buck and three adult does—being captured and euthanized over an approximate 11 day trapping period.
All of the mule deer were processed and the meat distributed to three local organizations to be used for human consumption. This process was clearly identified in the guidelines embedded in the Wildlife Permit provided by MFLNRO.
All meat preparation was conducted by a qualified local butcher and processed in a facility inspected and approved by both Interior Health and MFLNRO.
Although there was provision in the Wildlife Permit to capture and euthanize both mule deer and incidental white-tail deer, the contractor was instructed by the City and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) to release any captured white-tail deer, if it was deemed safe to do so, for both the deer and the contractor.
Two white-tail deer, one buck and one doe were captured during the program. Both were released by the contractors unharmed.
The Wildlife Permit was issued to the City of Cranbrook on October 7, 2014 by the MFLNRO, was valid from December 1, 2014 and expires on March 15, 2015.
The specific zones of the City to be targeted for the population reduction program were approved by resolution of Council. That recommendation was based on complaints received by City staff from the public in 2014 along with the results of the urban deer population count conducted in December 2014.
The locations of the traps were determined by City staff based on this information along with complaints received by the provincial toll-free Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line and priority areas identified by the Conservation Officer Service in 2014.
The cull results indicate to staff that the clover traps were placed in the best strategic locations possible to minimize the chances of capturing white-tail deer.
Two individuals/companies, who had previously approached the City of Cranbrook interested in conducting the cull program, were invited to submit a quote for service in February.
The contract was awarded by resolution of Council with the approved budget of $12,750. The program will be well below budget.
Staff is waiting on the final invoice from the contractor. Built into the cost per animal includes: placement and tear down of each clover trap, purchase of bait and supplies, liability insurance, provincially mandated equipment training, mileage, vehicle cleaning; processing, packaging and distribution of the meat and all associated contractor administration costs.