November 05, 2013 - 10:20 AM
PENTICTON - Mule deer better watch out in Invermere as its residents voted in favour of culling and other deer management options.
As Penticton puts its mule deer issue on the back-burner, Invermere put the animals back in its crosshairs with a referendum on Saturday. There were two questions on the document asking whether or not residents supported a new community centre and supporting mule deer management. There were 729 residents in favour of culling and 259 not in favour.
Penticton's councillors had shelved debate on the city's mule deer issues months ago to wait for a B.C. Supreme Court decision on whether or not the community of Invermere did enough to inform its citizens about a possible deer cull. A judge came down in favour of the council and against the Invermere Deer Protection Society who were crying foul.
Now the decision has been made, Mayor Garry Litke said the issue is not at the forefront for council. Some citizens were saying mule deer are bothersome pests who trample gardens, eat expensive plants and are aggressive towards small pets and children. The Penticton Indian Band had offered to butcher the culled deer for food and there was some chatter about better fencing.
Litke was unhappy about the way Invermere was treated by the courts. Environmentalists and animal advocates donated money to pay the society's court costs. Invermere's council paid tens of thousands in legal fees with taxpayer dollars.
Society president Devin Kazakoff and other society volunteers have campaigned all week to inform residents about the damage a cull could do and the other options available to control the deer population.
Kazakoff said the society has been pushing council to do proper research and consider choices such as using contraceptive darts and hazing to reduce the numbers and prevent incursions, "rather than randomly killing fauns, does and bucks."
"We are always against lethal measures," he said. "I don't think 20th century management needs brutality in our wildlife management."
- This story was updated on Nov. 4, 2013 at 10:52 a.m. to include Invermere referendum results.
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