Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Oak Bay cuts $30,000 for deer management from budget

In a 4-3 vote, Oak Bay has dropped $30,000 for deer management from its budget.
“It really means that in 2016 there will be no deer management program in Oak Bay, and we’ll have to see what we do for 2017,” Mayor Nils Jensen said.
Instead, the municipality will budget $10,000 for a public survey on attitudes and awareness of urban deer and any leftover costs from last year’s deer management program.
Jensen and councillors Hazel Braithwaite and Kevin Murdock were in favour of a $30,000 budget item to create a yet-to-be-defined municipal deer management program, while councillors Tom Croft, Michelle Kirby, Tara Ney and Eric Zhelka were opposed.
Council had previously accepted the principle that the municipality had a role to play in urban deer management in partnership with the province, Jensen said.
In 2015, Oak Bay conducted a cull of deer, which prompted protests and saw 11 deer trapped and killed over a 16-day period.


In 2015, Oak Bay conducted a cull of deer, which prompted protests and saw 11 deer trapped and killed over a 16-day period.   Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist



Saturday, March 26, 2016

Divided council agrees to manage deer

By Christine van Reeuwyk – Oak Bay News
posted Mar 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Whatever a plan may look like, Oak Bay will tackle deer in its boundaries.
In a lengthy conversation surrounding a grant request for the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society’s proposed Deer Plan Oak Bay, Coun. Kevin Murdoch nailed down the answer to a question he presented in January.

Sitting as committee of the whole, with Mayor Nils Jensen and Coun. Eric Zhelka participating via conference call, council agreed to pursue deer management “in partnership with the province.”

The second portion of the motion, which is a recommendation to council and would require adoption, refers to the responsibility for deer, which falls under the purview of the province.

It’s the main reason Coun. Michelle Kirby opposed the motion. “We’re at capacity,” she said, reiterating her stance the province should tend to its deer.  Zhelka also opposed the deer philosophy following nearly three hours of discussion.

“We’re turning our back on science,” Zhelka said.

In a bid for funding, UWSS board member Ralph Archibald outlined the society’s proposed Deer Plan Oak Bay during the March 21 meeting.

The five-point multi-year plan includes: effective public education, population model, survey of attitudes, deer abundance estimation and immune-contraception. The 2016 budget would require $38,000 funding from Oak Bay and $20,000 potentially available through the Ministry of Forests lands and Natural Resource Operations. Though the application deadline has long passed, municipal staff indicated the province seemed positive at the concept of an Oak Bay proposal.

The cost to the district for the entire five-part proposal for 2016 would be about $38,250.

Assuming $20,000 annual funding from the province, UWSS would need $27,500 a year from 2017 to 2020 from Oak Bay.

“We believe we’d see a reduction in human/deer conflict,” Archibald said. “We believe this would be positive action. there would be very little draw on staff time.”

Murdoch posed the question: “How do we determine the right number of deer?”

“The right number of deer will be defined by the citizens,” said Archibald.
“We don’t know the answer to the question because we haven’t asked it (of the community). There may not be a need for us to do anything. That’s a possibility,” he added. “We’re not in a position to say at this time … that there is categorically a need to reduce the number of deer that are here.”

That sentiment troubled Jensen, who contends the ecological damage alone signifies a need to reduce the number of deer in the community.

Bryan Gates, president of UWSS, suggested Oak Bay could be at “biological carrying capacity” – the maximum population the environment can sustain indefinitely.

“We have no evidence this population is growing, we have no evidence it’s declining. I believe we’re at biological carrying capacity,” he said. “We would like to work with you for the scientific information.”

Coun. Tara Ney, who felt the proposal was “well thought out, and it makes good common sense,” moved that Oak Bay contract UWSS to conduct a sampling survey of attitudes in the community at a cost of $17,250.

Jensen asked, and Archibald confirmed, if information and survey suggested a cull is warranted and wanted, the society would not support that.

“We want to know all the options are possible,” Jensen said, adding that includes relocation and cull as well as immune-contraception. He also voiced concern over perceived bias should the society, a proponent of immuno-contraception, be contracted to conduct the survey.

The contracting motion failed and wasn’t followed up by any other suggestions regarding UWSS funding. However, council, sitting as committee, agreed unanimously to have staff bring back a “high-level report” costing out an attitudes survey during Estimates where they discuss budget.

“This does not mean we’re not partnering with UWSS at all,” Murdoch said in response to Zhelka’s concerns.

Estimates meetings are scheduled for April 6 and 13 at 5:30 p.m. at municipal hall 2167 Oak Bay Ave. The next council meeting is Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m.

Oak Bay council has agreed to manage deer, but what that will look like is still unclear.
— image credit: Jennifer Blyth/Oak Bay News

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Overstepping a School District's Responsibility


Following the trap and kill urban deer cull in Cranbrook this January, DeerSafe has become aware that a letter signed by the Chair of School District #5, Frank Lento of Fernie, was sent to four Kootenay town councils and copied to several ministers and the Premier on February 10, 2016.

Bringing the deer hysteria in this province to a new level, the letter claims that “one of these incidents will culminate in student injury or casualty in the future.”

Provincial health and safety protocols are in place when human life is endangered by wildlife with a phone call to the Conservation Office. An incident at Eileen Madsen Primary School in Invermere indicates that the staff of at least one school in the district knew what to do, and Conservation Officers attended the school the next day.

“There have been three incidents where students were either brought indoors or moved to a different part of the playground because of deer not leaving the area, said Paul Carriere, superintendent for School District 6, stressing that the moves were made as precautionary measures, not because students were in any immediate danger.” (“Recess cancelled due to deer” Columbia Valley Pioneer, February 24, 2012).

Do the teachers and parents in School District #5 know that this letter was sent on their behalf? What is the status of the school district's public education regarding how students and staff should behave around ungulates? Has a notice gone out to parents advising them to talk to their children about feeding deer while at school?




Friday, February 12, 2016

Deer discussion delayed to March


By Christine Van Reeyuwyk
February 11, 2016 · Updated 4:03 PM

Council’s conversation on deer is rescheduled for its March committee of the whole meeting after council deemed the February agenda too full.
The subject of deer had been tentatively suggested for the Feb. 15 meeting when council also plans to discuss the Uplands sewer separation project and the final stages of an age-friendly strategy.
“When we have deer on the agenda, that tends to be filled with lots of input and lots of views,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.
Options were to add it to the Feb. 22 council meeting or put the conversation over to March.
Coun. Eric Zhelka made a bid to have a portion of the topic discussed during Monday’s meeting in an effort to apply for a government grant to start on a portion of the Oak Bay proposal by the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society.
The Provincial Urban Deer Operational Cost Share Program provides financial support to local governments this fiscal year within their jurisdiction.
Eligible projects could be operational activities or research trials. The province indicates research includes trials in translocation and immuno-contraception which is a major component of the UWSS proposal.
The UWSS Oak Bay Deer Management Plan includes a “survey of community attitudes” drafted by the society’s scientists and reviewed by an expert. The survey is “shovel-ready” and eligible for matching funds as a first, essential step toward a larger deer management program in the municipality, said vice-president Kristy Kilpatrick in a letter.
While content with pushing the discussion to March, Coun. Tara Ney agreed components of the UWSS program could be plucked out and offered as a shovel-ready program in a grant application. “I am disappointed if we can’t find a way to get an application in to the province,” Ney said.
With the bid to have the survey discussed Feb. 15 defeated, Zhelka urged council to consider asking the UWSS to have the paperwork in place with the survey funding in mind. Other members around the table questioned whether staff would have time to aid in the application, which must come from local government, and whether the proposed survey would be applicable as deer-reduction research.
Ney argued it “could be seen as part of an action research project.”
Rushing the process to get a grant could backfire, said Coun. Kevin Murdoch.
“It’s probably worthwhile having some public input,” he said. “I don’t think it should be shoehorned in … If it’s not where we want to go as a council, it’s not money well-spent.”
The deadline to apply was Jan. 8 however, the province has indicated late applications would be considered. The program runs to March 31.
Council opted to put the entire discussion over to the March 21 committee meeting, 7 p.m. at municipal hall 2167 Oak Bay Ave.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Ron Kerr's recent letter regarding Cranbrook deer cull

Ron Kerr has taken issue with Gerry Warner's open letter to Cranbrook which criticized their latest secret cull, speculating: “I wander (sic) if he gave any thought to the fact that to get those videos they probably had to trespass on private property in the guise of secrecy.”

For two years the BC Deer Protection Society has taken out full-paged advertisements in local papers in several communities asking for permission to enter neighbouring properties to observe the cull, even sending out postcards to 3,600 households in Oak Bay.  Residents have been asked to film permit violations.  During the January 2014 deer cull in Elkford residents contacted the BCDPS with photographs to report a violation of the permit by the contractor Carmen Purdy, who was trapping during daylight hours, necessitating an investigation by MFLNRO.  This January Cranbrook residents observed two permit violations, documented them, and sent video and photographs to our Society.

Ron Kerr made an easy $16,000 when he came to Oak Bay to kill eleven deer in January 2015.  A FOI request reveals that he was the only applicant for Oak Bay's Request for Proposal. The cull was “completed without a hitch” not because of citizen complicity but because the properties chosen could only be secured in a rich municipality like Oak Bay.  Mayor Jensen himself admitted to media that although several residents had offered their properties to traps it was decided that they were not “private” enough.  Only the most affluent of Oak Bay residents could receive taxpayer-funded clover traps.  As evidenced by events in the smaller municipalities of BC, clover trap/bolt gun culls are easily observed, and they are as cruel to residents as they are to deer.

On October 14, 2015 Oak Bay police were called at 7:30 pm to respond to shots fired.  A white minivan with a sliding side door was reported to have pulled up to a small group of deer on a boulevard in the in the tony neighbourhood of Uplands, Oak Bay, and opened fire. 

If violence towards urban wildlife becomes an accepted method to deal with urbanite complaints, we will raise future generations to accept that violence is the way to deal with our problems.  Urban deer culls are affecting many municipalities in BC.  Ron Kerr came to my region to kill eleven deer and left without detection.  It's my hope that this letter will end the accusation that “outsiders” are interfering with local issues. 

Kelly Carson
President, BC Deer Protection Society

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Former Cranbrook Councilor Slams Current Mayor and Council


A challenge to apologize

E-Know
Published January 19, 2016
Letter to the Editor
Say it ain’t so, Cranbrook city hall!
I still have difficulty believing that mayor, city council and CAO would approve a clandestine deer cull (kill) in-camera without the taxpayers knowledge while telling the public they were going to translocate deer instead of killing them. Then carry out the cull spending taxpayers’ money doing it – and at the same time – accept plaudits from the many opposed to the cull including the Animal Alliance of Canada who offered to donate $10,000 to the translocation program.
Then when their sleazy, deceitful act was exposed in a video – yes, a YouTube video! – by the animal rights people and questioned by the media they stick their haughty noses in the air and say they don’t discuss sordid deeds like this in the media!
But unless the sun has started rising in the west and setting in the east this is apparently what they did. And once again Cranbrook’s name has been darkened from coast-to-coast-to coast. In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare says “something is rotten in the state of Demark.” Well, I’m going to update the Bard and say unequivocally that “something is rotten at Cranbrook City Hall” and it’s time these representatives of the people fessed up.
And oh yes, I have special knowledge of this situation and know how difficult an issue the deer situation is because I was a city councillor myself in the previous administration and foolishly made the same mistake myself of approving a deer cull in-camera without telling the people. But when our council got caught in the act, I admitted what we had done, apologized to the public and condemned council for what it had done starting with myself first.
Never again, I said, and it didn’t happen again during that council’s term. Instead we did surveys and studied the problem, which didn’t do a hell of a lot of good either. But at least we didn’t hide behind the public’s back. So I challenge this council, the mayor and the CAO to do the right thing and apologize publicly to the citizens of Cranbrook for your perfidy. In the circumstances, it’s the least you can do.
Gerry Warner,
Cranbrook

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Deer Protection Society files complaint

Posted: January 13, 2016, e-KNOW.ca


The BC Deer Protection Society (BCDPS) Jan. 8 filed a complaint to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations about incidents involving fawns in clover traps.
“In mid-December 2015, Cranbrook began to cull deer without notification to area residents. The only public notification came from the BC Deer Protection Society and Animal Alliance of Canada in an ad that ran in the Cranbrook Townsman prior to the start of the cull,” the BCDPS stated in a January 12 press release.
“The incidents show the cruelty of the cull, captured through photographs and video footage. Two incidents in particular reveal violations of the terms of the cull permit issued by the minister. Footage for one incident shows a fawn captured in a trap (unedited video documents the fawn pacing for over two hours). The cull contactors arrive, collapsing the trap on the animal and applying the bolt gun. The cull contractors stand and the fawn moves. They apply the bolt gun a second time. The fawn moves again as the contractors try to erect the trap. They drop it and observe the fawn. One contractor starts to reach for the bolt gun but stops. They proceed again to erect the trap and drag the fawn away by the hind leg. In both cases the fawn is seen moving,” the BCDPS described.
“The cull contractor returns immediately leaving the fawn still alive and unattended. A total of six minutes passed between the arrival of the contractors and the removal of the deer (bcdeer.org). Photographs from a second incident show two fawns entangled in a trap that has collapsed on them (pictured above). They remain entangled and compressed for at least two hours prior to the arrival of the cull contractors. It is not known at this time whether the fawns’ struggle was so violent as to dislodge the mechanism holding the trap upright or whether the mechanism was faulty.
“Regardless, no one checked the trap during that two-hour period to end the suffering of these two animals. (bcdeer.org) In the letter to the minister, we urge him in the strongest possible terms to end the cull, conduct a full investigation of the violations of the permit and lay charges where appropriate. In addition, we ask that the permit for the current contractor be revoked until the investigation is complete,” the BCDPS release concluded.
E-KNOW this morning contacted the City of Cranbrook for comment on the contents of the press release.
“Mayor (Lee) Pratt has indicated he doesn’t want to get into a debate through the media with Liz White or the Animal Alliance,” noted city Corporate Communications Officer Chris Zettel.
The BCDPS release is signed by Devin Kazakoff Liz White, Barry MacKay and Sherry Adams.
BCDPS image