Penticton continues to wait on deer cull - Updated Feb. 20 at 1 p.m.
While Cranbrook is laying plans to forge ahead with another deer cull, Penticton is continuing to play a waiting game.
Cranbrook, one of the few B.C. communities to conduct a deer cull, announced last week that they planned to cull another 30 deer. Cranbrook, like other communities in the province, had been delaying their deer cull program, awaiting the results of a case going through the B.C. Supreme Court.
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton admits to being surprised that Cranbook obtained a permit from the province late last year and is now planning to go ahead with a deer cull.
“While there is injunctive proceedings going on, I think it would be foolhardy to go out and cull,” said Ashton. Penticton city council discussed the issue in camera this week, and will continue to wait. However, that doesn’t mean the city is giving up on plans to eventually cull deer within city limits.
“Council is going to wait until we see what is happening with the court case,” Ashton said. “I don’t want to put the city in a legal situation, in the courts, over deer. I do not have a problem with a cull whatsoever.”
After their first partial deer cull in February 2012, the District of Invermere was taken to court by the newly formed Invermere Deer protection Society, who charged that the district didn’t properly consult with the community or thoroughly investigate the deer problem. The society is also seeking pain and suffering damages, citing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ashton said he doesn’t want Penticton to end up in a similar situation.
“I am not going to get into litigation. There seems to be a tendency for certain groups to throw court cases in front of it (a deer cull). I don’t want that here,” said Ashton.
Invermere, like Cranbrook and Penticton, followed the guidelines laid out by the environment ministry. Should the court decide the process was inappropriate or incomplete, all communities contemplating a deer cull might be affected by the decision.
“The City of Penticton has been forced into a holding pattern until the legal case in Invermere is resolved and the courts provide direction on the requirements for managing urban deer populations,” said Ashton in an earlier statement. “The Invermere case will set precedence for municipalities like us on how the urban deer issue can be addressed.”
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft suggested the legal chill and resulting delay on deer culls in many communities may have been the intent of the lawsuit. Taft said Invermere tried to work with the deer protection society to settle the lawsuit outside the court system, but without result. A hearing was set to be held in January, but was delayed.
Cranbrook, meanwhile, is withholding any details as to where and when they will be conducting their cull.
"Due to concerns around public safety raised both by the RCMP and council, the city will not at this time be providing any additional details surrounding the population reduction activities," reads a statement by Cranbrook communications officer Chris Zettel.