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 Posted in    |  on February 17th, 2012  |  by

Invermere ordered to put brakes on cull

By Joshua Estabrooks
Pioneer Staff

A group of deer lovers has taken legal action to halt the cull of 100 of Invermere’s urban deer population.

Opponents to the cull succeeded in putting a temporary stop to the cull process last week, when they served an injunction from the Supreme Court to the district that prevents the cull from going ahead until at least February 24th.

The injunction was sought by and successfully granted to the Invermere Deer Protection Organization, a group of residents opposed to the cull. The organization, along with Invermere resident Shane Suman, are the official names on the court documents.

The injunction is part of a larger lawsuit which is challenging the validity of two bylaws, passed in August of 2011 and January of 2012, the first authorizing the cull to go ahead and the second hiring the contractor to carry out the cull, said Vancouver-based lawyer Rebeka Breder of Boughton Law Corporation, who will be representing the Invermere Deer Protection Organization.

Damages for nuisance are also being sought by a number of those opposed, as the impending cull has allegedly caused some residents a significant amount of distress, the effects of which include sleeplessness, loss of appetite, nightmares, and in some cases symptoms of secondary trauma effect.

The bylaw challenges are based on the opinion that council did not consult with the public enough prior to making their decision, and that the bylaws were passed based on insufficient information and possibly even just copied from the processes that took place in Kimberley and Cranbrook, both towns where deer culls were recently completed, Ms. Breder said.

“Animal cruelty is a part we are looking into as well,” she added. “There is definitely a potential for the argument that the district is in violation of cruelty legislation, whether it’s the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act or the Wildlife Act,” she said.

The injunction was personally delivered to the district office on Thursday, February 9th, by spokesman for the Invermere Deer Protection Organization, Vince Zurbriggen, who said that he feels the conclusions reached by the original deer committee were not based on accurate, factual information.

“The deer committee should be people who know and have the expertise to advise council. They were supposed to investigate what can be done but they didn’t. They went for the easiest solution, which is a cull,” Mr. Zurbriggen said.

Also speaking against the cull, resident Shane Suman said that he feels a cull should be the last resort, not the first strategy adopted by the district in response to the deer issue.

“We said killing the deer is an irreversible solution. Once it is done you can’t bring them back. We have been living with them for decades, so we asked for a temporary stop to it,” he said.

“We’re not asking for a permanent cancellation or anything, so we can get together as a whole community and address the issues that people bring up. We know there are problems — people talk about aggressive deer or deer sometimes eating plantations and vegetable gardens — and we are willing to listen to the concerns and find solutions to the concerns,” he added.

By his interpretation of the results from a survey that was conducted in Invermere to gather public opinion about the deer cull, Mr. Suman said he believes that people want solutions, but they don’t want the deer killed carte blanche.

“They want solutions. How the problem is solved is not their concern, they just want a solution to the problem,” Mr. Suman said. “We are looking for something that is cost-effective, something that will be more permanent and long-term and something the whole community can feel united about and not divided.”

Explaining why he got involved in the issue, Mr. Suman said he and his wife, Monie, moved to the valley a year-and-a-half ago, and were instantly enamoured with the deer that live within the town.

He acknowledged that he is the same Shane Suman who was recently found guilty, along with his wife, of insider trading by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and ordered to pay over $4 million dollars in fines and profits, but stated that the issues are completely unrelated, and he has nothing to hide in relation to the case.

Mr. Suman is also the driving force behind a Facebook group dedicated to opposing the cull, so he said if he was trying to hide from his other legal troubles he wouldn’t be putting himself out there in the public eye.

“I am here, everyone knows where I am and if someone was trying to get away they wouldn’t be exposing themselves like this,” Mr. Suman said.

The ultimate goal of the injunction and lawsuit isn’t simply to stall the process until the permit issued by the province runs out on March 15th, he said. If the district wants to come back to the discussion table, the Invermere Deer Protection Organization would be willing to end the court battle.

“Going to the court was our last option,” Mr. Suman said. “We have tried every other avenue to convince mayor and council to put a temporary halt [to the cull] so we have time to negotiate, discuss and find a solution outside of court, but it is their stubbornness and refusal to discuss anything other than killing the deer which forced us to go down this path.

“If at any time the district wants to talk to us we are open and we are going to go back to our original proposal. We can discuss solutions and come together as a community.”

In terms of the case itself, the challenge could be the first of its kind in the province, and possibly even Canada, Ms. Breder said. As of press time she had not yet met with the district’s counsel, who were not consulted prior to the injunction being filed.

If the district were to be successful in having the injunction removed, there would be an opportunity to appeal the decision. As well, the lawsuit could take months to resolve.

The district’s court costs will come out of taxpayer’s pockets, while costs for retaining the lawyer for the Invermere Deer Protection Organization, which could reach upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, will be paid for out of the pockets of the members of the organization, Mr. Suman said.

Responding to the injunction, the District of Invermere are engaging their regular lawyers from Vancouver-based firm, Young Anderson, and are unable to comment in too much detail while the court battle is taking place, Mayor Gerry Taft said.

“Basically, we’re looking to have the injunction set aside. That’s our immediate goal. A lot of their claims I really question and I am quite troubled with some of the things they brought up. I think some of their statements are bordering on slanderous and in some cases are inaccurate,” Mr. Taft said.

“It’s a challenge because the petition, and the petitioners, are 14 people, and it’s frustrating that 14 people could have such a huge influence on a decision. Hopefully it doesn’t result in a lot of legal costs. It is disappointing.”

Mayor Taft added that council has yet to receive any official communication from the Invermere Deer Protection Organization expressing a desire to work together.

“From my personal perspective, when you sue the town and make a lot of claims, that’s not a sign of wanting to work together,” he said.

Joshua Estabrooks
Email: joshua@cv-pioneer.com
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Journalist Joshua Estabrooks has a passion for storytelling. Originally from Ottawa, he moved to British Columbia as soon as he could, and has been working in the industry for over six years. Joshua's passions are writing, photography and music. He is excited to bring his varied experience in the industry to the Columbia Valley, having been a publisher, editor and reporter in the short time (no pun intended) he has been in the newspaper world.

19 Responses to Invermere ordered to put brakes on cull

  1. prad says:

    It’s about time legal actions were taken! Good for Suman and the Invermere Deer Protection Organization. It’s a pity that they have to pay for their legal costs while those responsible for the cruelty get a free lunch on the backs of taxpayers.

  2. tammy reid says:

    love them too they have just as much right to life as we do

    • glenda says:

      I live in windermere bc, I am as of now going to school here in Vancouver, and it breaks my heart, to here the people of invermere want to kill innocent animal to save their gardens, what their green grass, what is wrong with people when they care more about worthless issues as gardens and grass, and think their problem is so easily deal with , we should just kill all unwanted things that bother us then, right,

  3. Christina says:

    If we started doing the same with people who are considered a “nuisance” or who may be deemed as “aggressive”, that would be one MASSIVE cull!!! Killing innocent creatures whose territory us humans infringed upon first is definitely not the answer. They are only living the best way they know how, considering their circumstances. I used to live with deer in my yard every day. Others would complain, but if you don’t want to live surrounded by nature and all its creatures, then move to the big city! Personally, I was in heaven. They are beautiful and deserve to live just as much as any one of us.

  4. Anne Streeter says:

    please do the right thing – no deer cull!

  5. Amanda Sather says:

    I support the existing alternatives to a deer cull. Fencing, signage, public education, etc., are obviously the place to start. Starting with killing is one of the reasons humans have destroyed so much on our planet, including our willingness and ability to work together. By now, I would think that most people understand that killing wildlife to solve some other problem simply leads to more problems. Nevermind the gross immorality of it. I am hopefull that the time has arrived where a critical mass of people will not accept killing as a solution to problems that humans have caused.

    I hope the Invermere Deer Protection Organization (IDPO) responds to the second-to-last sentence in this article as it could undermine their legitamcy if true, since they have said they have tried to work with Invermere Council. I find it disturbing that either the IDPO or Invermere’s mayor are blatantly lying to the public. I look forward to the IDPO hopefully confirming that they have in fact written to the Council. If they have in fact written to Council, which I expect they have, the mayor needs to be taken to task for lying and saying Council hasn’t received any official communication. Once that is cleared up, I hope both sides can move forward on working together – in or out of Court.

  6. Ali says:

    I don’t understand why so many people are against the deer cull. Is the majority of Invermere citizens vegetarian? I doubt it! People that buy steaks at Sobey’s where do you think it comes from? Cattle get a bolt to the head too! The deer meat from the cull would be going towards feeding the people of Invermere. Lets keep the cougars out of town by reducing the deer population. Lets keep our children safe.

    • Mark says:

      Deer culling has nothing to do with being a meat eater, if that were the case all of us meat eaters would eat our dogs and cats for dinner. I eat meat, but choose not to shoot deer, cougars and wolves, I only eat meat that was raised to be eaten.

  7. Monroe Hunsicker says:


  8. Gaga Antosh says:

    Although I love the Deer… I am considering a law suit against “Invermere Deer Protection Org” I have been having nightmares, I am anxious, and fear for the life of my grandchild… I have visions of my grandchild being stompped to death by these 400 deer. These deer are not pets they are “wildlife” and will protect what they preceeve as their territory…. That include the play ground, and my poor little grandchilds back yard…

  9. Patricia Cannell says:

    No Deer Cull!!

  10. No deer cull, all the natural resoources & technology, there is a better way than killing our deer! when will this end? kill kill kill?? says:

    I am totally against killing and the Invermere deer cull. I have lived in invermerev for 30 years, our properties have always had deer. my daughter grew up here & graduated in invermere. Her and her friends always played in our yard full of sometimes 20 deer. She walked to school with her friends every day, with deer along the way too. I taught my daughter and friends to respect nature and our wildlife. Not once have we ever had an issue, nor did any of her friends or family. Our family dogs grew up with the deer too! when they where pups they wanted to chase the deer. They learned very fast it was wrong. You need to educate your kids, dogs, family, and friends.My husband grew up here beside the huge feild by ja laird. the deer where always here he said. also the bears , cougars, coyotes, wolves, come up over the bank from toby creek. The school yards shouldn have higher fences & the teachers should educate the kids reguarding all wildlife. School feild trips could be a huge liability too! we do live in the middle of the wild and mountains. This is insane all of a sudden people are all full of fear! This is where we live. Wow! educate, less fear!! If you can’t live with our wildlife move to the city. Do you realize the severe death and what a cull is about? I spoke with cranbrook & kimberly. The deer could be in a trap for maybe 8 hours frightened , they scream bloody murder( have you heard a deer caught in a fence) they break limbs, they may have twin baby fawns inside them. the be frightened & then have a guy come along & try shoot them with a bolt gun (banned in the usa) bolt guns are not meant for wildlife . wow! think about it . There is a better more humane way! i have grandchirdren too! we teach them! i have witnessed kids running up to deer, dogs… you name it! Where is the common sense? i can’t understand people have these thoughts and are not open to more humane long term options. We , our family thousands of tax dollars in the doi. We own alot of properties. None of us have an issue with the deer. We are turned off of these people who just want to kill kill. wow, what is this society coming too?? I have been a wildlife photographer forever, I have not had any issues. I photograph & film all the wild animals also our local wildlife.You need to learn to respect nature. Animals can pick up on your energy. Enough of this i am off into the mountains to photograph a family of cougars. O ya the bears are awake now too! i have seen busy filming & taking photos.them i am off into the mountains. i feel safer there than this society that can only think cull & kill!

  11. Matt says:

    If instead of deer, we had an infestation of rats, would all these pro deer supporters oppose a culling of the rats? Wouldn’t they also have a right to life? The only difference between a rat infestation and a deer infestation is the deer are cute, the rats are not.

  12. marian says:

    no deer cull

  13. Derek R. Orr says:

    The Deer in Invermere stand for a larger problem a global problem, and the Idea humans matter more than all other life on Earth as a race humans are the Apex predator we are in control, Very Unfortunately so. We have deemed ourselves the overlords of earth… we get to decide what lives what dies what stays what go’s
    The arrogance of most humans is endless; we are on the edge of a huge void into w…hich we will bulldoze much of nature’s beauty into oblivion. The damage is done in the Oceans The great plains, the Rivers and mountains Rainforests the far north right down to the thin veneer of breathable air, Ecosystems are crumbling under the great and endless Weight of Human greed and corruption 2012 may well be the hinge point of no return to the damage we have inflicted on this wonderful blue planet And I stand guilty with all the rest of my Race if I sit idle and do nothing. The Universe must be crying at the site of atrocities humans have brought upon Nature here. And so the fact Some people with a small amount of control have decided to waist it Killing Deer in Invermere to Solve some huge Problem some Not so Mighty humans may have ,to kill to make things better is no surprise to Me. And I applaud those who to choose to make a stand for nature, but lets stand for nature Period not just Deer in Invermere.

  14. Monroe Hunsicker says:

    Please, go under your bed, look untill you find your piggy bank, break it open, take out all the money. Then buy yourself a clue!

  15. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t just a matter of flowers or grass, this is about kids and even adults getting charged and attacked by deer. True the deer where here first but they have plenty of land to live on that isn’t commercialized. Besides if tax payers money is being spent to go to court against the Invermere Deer Protection Agency then that is that much money taken away from another solution. Next time protest before the decision is made to cull the deer.

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