(Submitted by Trev Miller)

Deer suffered in fatal Cranbrook cull trap, welfare group says

Cranbrook Friends of Animals claims buck suffocated after “collapsing improperly assembled trap on himself”

WARNING: Graphic content.

An animal protection group is alleging a buck suffered an inhumane death when caught in a clover trap as part of the City of Cranbrook’s deer cull.

Trev Miller, of the Cranbrook Friends of Animals Society, says a buck entered one of the city’s clover traps Dec. 11, appeared to become terrified when the gate slammed shut and was unable to exit.

“He was clamouring loudly as he struggled in panic to free himself before the trap collapsed and he died a slow, tragic death.”

Miller said a resident sent the picture of the deer in the trap.

“From the description it sounds like the buck was clamouring and making a lot of noise for almost two hours before collapsing the improperly assembled trap onto himself, which resulted in his suffocation,” Miller told the Townsman.

READ MORE: Council reluctantly approves deer cull

In a statement, Miller added; “This wild animal died … in the most inhumane circumstances imaginable.”

“We live in a corridor that’s been home to thousands of deer for millions of years, and this wide-reaching annual slaughter of wildlife because of 38 reports – possibly from a single small group of people – has caused the needlessly tragic death of a nonhuman resident of the area. Whether this is due to the incompetent kill contractor or a lackadaisical approach by our elected officials and city staff, is unclear.”

Chris Zettel, the City of Cranbrook’s Corporate Communications Officer, said in a statement that the City’s contractor arrived at the trap location and found the deer deceased in the trap, “which is a first since the City started population management programs in 2010.

“Upon removal of the animal, the contractor discovered that the trap had one of its mesh panels slashed, suggesting that the trap was vandalized perhaps when someone was attempting to release the deer.”

Zettel said the City has had three incidents of clover traps, which are owned and maintained by the Province, and all located on private property vandalized over the last five days. All incidents have been reported to the RCMP who are investigating.

Meanwhile, local MLA Tom Shyptika is calling for a moratorium on white-tailed doe hunting in the region. The City of Cranbrook’s wildlife permit allows for a cull of up to 60 mule deer and 10 white-tailed deer.

READ MORE: MLA calls for white-tail doe moratorium

In light of this, Miller is calling for an end to the cull.

“Municipalities across the province are looking into actual solutions for managing human/wildlife interactions,” Miller said, “rather than hungrily seeking taxpayer cash to spend on never-ending band-aids.

“The FLNRO Minister allows the killing of both mule and white-tailed deer in Cranbrook, knowing there are real concerns about both populations,” said Miller.

Cranbrook City Council approved the latest deer cull in October. Council lamented at the time that a cull is the only tool allowed by the province to deal with Cranbrook’s burgeoning urban deer herd.

The city has conducted seven culls in years past, removing as many as up to 50 deer, or only three earlier this year in March, due to the late issuance of a wildlife permit. Other cull programs have been interrupted due to clover trap vandalism.

According to a staff report, the city has received 38 complaints of aggressive deer so far this year, an increase from 23 complains in 2018. One of those complaints is a confirmed case of a dog getting killed, while another incident resulted in injuries to a dog and its owner.

Based on the latest statistics collected in December last year, there are 98 urban deer in Cranbrook, 67 of which are mule deer.

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