By Dan Walton
There will be no charges laid after an investigation into the death of a female mule deer.
On Tuesday, July 9th, while a landscaping crew was working on a property on 2nd Avenue near Fort Point, a doe breached the homeowners fence while labourers were on duty.
Speaking with The Pioneer, Invermere Conservation Officer Greg Kruger said that in an attempt to haze the deer off of the property, rocks were meant to be thrown near the deer, but one stone accidentally connected with the deer’s head and brought its life to an end.
The death was immediately reported by a worker from the landscaping crew.
“That was not the desired outcome,” Mr. Kruger said. “The property owners were doing their part to avoid conflicts with the deer by installing the fence all around the property, but this particular doe breached that fence. So these workers were sealing off the breach in the fence to keep deer out for public safety.”
The rock that was used to kill the deer was described by Mr. Kruger as about five to six centimetres wide by four centimetres long.
Mr. Kruguer’s decision not to lay charges came as no surprise to the president of Deer Protection Society of Invermere, Devin Kazakoff, who doesn’t believe all the facts came to surface upon the investigation’s conclusion.
“I have a pretty good idea of what went on, but he can’t use what I have to say because I’m just a third-party,” Mr. Kazakoff said, who spoke with eyewitnesses. “But I completely understand why he came to that conclusion — the eyewitnesses didn’t come forward to the conservation officer.”
Mr. Kruger said that the investigation “basically centred around interviewing those on site at the time, including the individual responsible for throwing the rock.”
Asked if he believed the complete truth had come about during the investigation, he told The Pioneer that it had.
“To date, no one has come forward to contradict the evidence or information that I’ve ascertained.”
During investigations of such nature, prior history of the individual(s) responsible are reviewed.
“Any fish, wildlife, environmental violators are all tracked in our system. We can see if a person’s been dealt with before, and that would be a part of the investigation for sure,” he said, confirming that the man who threw the rock had no previous reports on record.
But while no other incidents involving the man were reported, Mr. Kazakoff isn’t convinced that the ruling was fair.
“I have heard that these deer have been harassed for weeks by the same individuals, throwing rocks and chasing them — and they knew full well that there were does and fawns in that yard. I don’t personally believe that it was an accident, I think maybe they didn’t intend to kill the deer, but they sure intended to throw rocks and harass the deer,” he said. “It’s not legal, it’s not right, and it’s completely unacceptable.”
While hearsay exists to contradict the official story, the property owners (not the landscapers) have reported aggressive deer on site in the past, which prompted the installation of deer-proof fencing.
“The landscapers were trying to haze it out of the open gates when the accident happened and the rock struck it — it was an erroneous throw,” Mr. Kruger said. “When I made contact with that individual responsible, nothing was withheld and the deer was made available for inspection. There was full co-operation.”
Dealing with problematic deer is always a matter of circumstance, Mr. Kruger says.
“There are a number of different things people can do which depend on how each deer will react.”
He said to ensure that the animal has a clear and evident escape route, and evaluate its comfort around humans.
“Throwing sticks and rocks near the animal, but not at it, oftentimes will work. Gauge their actions accordingly.”
But at no time does the Conservation Authority encourage or condone people injuring these animals, he said.
Both Mr. Kruger and Mr. Kazakoff agreed that, during the July 9th incident, which was a circumstance involving a deer that was presenting a threat to the public, the Conservation Authority should have been contacted to deal with the doe.