Late in February Liz White and I
travelled to Kimberley, British Columbia, population 7600 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimberley,_British_Columbia).Liz and I were there to monitor a mule deer
relocation project,thanks to support
from Born Free USA, Zoocheck and Animal Alliance of Canada.Animal Alliance
had contributed $10,000 to a project that involved moving mule deer out of
town to carefully chosen distant habitats.Those locations were chosen to maximize the chances the deer would have
to survive.The money Animal Alliance
donated to the project bought collars equipped with radio-telemetry devices
that report the location of the deer via a transmission to a satellite every 13
hours.They are designed to eventually
fall off but would provide enough information to allow the scientists to
determine how successful the process was in terms of survival of the deer.
Lest you think it odd that animal
protection organizations such as ours would have even minimal involvement in
such a thing let me assure you it was to provide part of an alternative to the
current deer culling where deer are captured in “clover traps” and killed by a
bolt gun.Earlier this year someone
captured this process during a secretly conducted cull in the nearby town of Cranbrook.The BC Deer Protection society, (http://www.bcdeer.org/), of which both Liz
and I are directors, posted the footage online.
Mule deer inhabit various towns and
small cities that are built in close proximity to vast forests and the animals
make use of both urban and wilderness habitats.So they are more likely to come into direct contact with residents and
given that mule deer are not as inclined to flee humans as are many other
larger wildlife species, conflicts arise.Often these conflicts involve dogs, many of whom are off-leash.In the spring does will defend their fawns,
occasionally escalating the conflict.Other complaints include impacts on flower gardens, deer feces on the
ground and the threat of deer being hit by cars or other vehicles.
A handsome animal, yes, but one that
“does not belong” in town, as we have so often heard.
We heard that town life for deer is
fraught with difficulty.They have to
navigate fences and traffic and avoid people who don’t like them.Of course those who advocate this point of
view fail to acknowledge, or understate that, in the wild deer are hunted in
the fall.They have to avoid
predators.They are in constant search
for food, particularly through difficult winters and droughts.But we also heard such people, apparently
unaware of their own contradictions, that the in-town deer were fat and healthy
and bore more young than their wilderness counterparts.All the deer that we saw in Kimberley certainly looked healthy, fat and
sleek and since they are nowhere far from wooded forests they obviously chose
to be there.
In fact, residents who closely observed
them assured us that the deer move freely from what we’d think of as classic
deer habitat, the mountain forests and fields that border and penetrate the
town borders, and the residential areas.Furthermore many folks love to have them around.Certainly the tourists enjoy seeing such
magnificent wildlife up close.
And so a team was assembled and with
consummate skill managed to catch some twenty deer in Kimberley and nearby Marysville, mostly at
the edge of residential areas, with a shooter firing darts into them, and then
following the animal until, minutes later, they became drowsy, and then fell
into a deep sleep.Once unconscious the
deer were examined for health, ticks, age, and sex (does were preferentially
selected, and if they were with last year’s young an effort was made to get
both, although the odd buck without antlers was also captured) and placed in a
trailer, awakened with an antidote and given a calming tranquilizer.Eventually the deer were driven to a carefully
chosen release site far away from town sites.Only one out of this original twenty died during this process, probably
asphyxiating from recently ingested food.The risk of that happening is why doctors, and veterinarians, order
fasting for patients planning to have a general anaesthetic.At least she was unconscious when she died
and did not suffer.If it had been the
usual lethal cull all 20 animals would have died a brutally applied death.
After we left the team moved north to
another town, and as I write this, another deer was found killed by a
cougar.Remember, though, that most
animals were not radio-collared so results are very preliminary.
But we saw what we were hoping to
achieve, at least for now.Both lethal
culling and translocation (and I’d add fertility control) are unlikely to do
much, if anything, to ultimately resolve concerns of people not wanting the
deer in town, but they serve a political function by showing complainers (the
only ones politicians heed) that “something is being done”.When the relocation project for Kimberley was completed,
Liz and I, later joined by a local friend who knew the area well, drove to the
various sites where deer had been taken and there seemed to be as many as
always.More deer move in to take the
places of those removed.Reduced
competition for resources means enhanced survivability and fecundity for those
who remain, in town and in adjoining woodlands, something called the “rebound
effect” or “compensatory mortality”.
But it is a step taken away from simply
killing the animals.
The issue is complex.Kimberley
is showing an extremely progressive attitude by implementing the kinds of
actions that reduce the attractiveness of the town to deer.These include volunteers picking up apples
fallen from trees; leash laws enforced for dogs in conjunction with public
education; no edible garbage made available overnight; encouraging deer fencing
and planting of flowers, trees and shrubs less or not attractive to deer as
food and a stop to feeding deer.The
decidedly lower number of deer in town is a testimony to the effectiveness of
these methods, although detractors claim it was a major cull of about 100 deer
some years ago that did the trick.I beg
to differ simply because other communities that implemented lethal culls but
did not take the steps Kimberley
has taken to keep deer numbers down actually saw more, not fewer, deer after
And we were pleased to encounter many
local people who assured us that whatever their views on deer in town, they
were happier that they were not being killed.One of the biggest downsides to the lethal culling, in my opinion, was
how divisive it is within the community.Kimberley’s city council is, to its
credit, open and transparent (in contrast to neighboring Cranbrook) and is actively seeking an
intelligent and compassionate solution to human/deer interactions.
bull dogs, victims of the brutal crime of dog-fighting, are in grave danger of
being destroyed very soon.
The Ontario SPCA has given up on them and say that they cannot be saved. It is
reported that on March 10th, 2016, they will seek the court’s
permission to destroy the remaining dogs.
But, we know that there are organizations in the US that have successfully
rehabilitated such dogs. Have those organizations been approached to provide
their expertise? Has every effort been made to transfer these dogs outside of Ontario, placing them in
the hands of those trained to work with survivor-dogs?
As dogs abused in fight rings they deserve specialized assessment from those
with particular expertise. We need to be sure that every effort has been made
to explore all such organizations to obtain help for these dogs. We want to
know that no stone has been left unturned.
Most of us have read about the survivor dogs of the Michael Vick dogfighting
ring, known as the Vicktory Dogs.
Heather Gutshall adopted one of those survivors, a dog named Handsome Dan.
Heather not only lives with this survivor in her home, she has evaluated and
rehabilitated many other survivors. She is experienced at evaluating such dogs
and is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant, holding
credentials; CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer -
Knowledge Assessed) and ACDBS (Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.)
Ms. Gutshall, who lives in Rhode Island, has
offered to travel to Ontario
to evaluate the Chatham-Kent dogs, free of charge.
If there are viable offers of assistance available, why is the OSPCA seemingly
determined to go it alone, even if this results in all of the dogs being killed?
Many people are concerned about the dogs and deserve to
know that these poor animals have been given every consideration.
them assessed by those who
have had success rehabilitating dogfighting survivors would
meet that criteria. Why do these dogs matter?Because they were victims of extreme
should have the very best chance at recovery.
Why does this case matter?Because we know that groups in the United States
have rehabilitated former fighting dogs. These dogs deserve the same
If we cannot find the compassion to better protect these most abused and
suffering of dogs, this will surely be a testament to the inadequate state of
animal protection in our province.
Ontario could embrace these dogs as
inspiration for a new beginning for improved animal welfare in Ontario. A more
forward-thinking approach could set our province on a new path.
The lives of the Chatham-Kent fight survivor-dogs matter.
And the future of
animal protection in Ontario
For anyone in Ontario
who wants our provincial leaders to dig deep and do better, now is the time to
let them know.
You can read more about Heather Gutshall’s rescue group called Handsome Dan’s Rescue and learn more
about two special dogfighting survivors, Handsome Dan and Tillie at:http://www.handsomedansrescue.org/
Read about a
rescue group called Bad Rap, who
rehabilitated some of the Vick dogs and were instrumental in giving them their
chance at life. http://www.badrap.org/vick-dogs
COLUMBIA, January 12, 2016:In mid-December 2015, Cranbrook
began to cull deer without notification to area residents.The only public notification came from the BC
Deer Protection Society and Animal Alliance of Canada in an ad that ran in the
Cranbrook Townsman prior to the start of the cull.
On Friday, January 8, 2016, the BC Deer Protection Society
lodged a formal complaint to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural
Resource Operations about incidents involving fawns in Clover traps.The incidents which show the cruelty of the
cull, were captured through photographs and video footage.
Two incidents in particular reveal violations of the terms
of the cull permit issued by the Minister.
Footage for one incident shows a fawn captured in a trap
(unedited video documents the fawn pacing for over two hours).The cull contactors arrive, collapsing the
trap on the animal and applying the bolt gun.The cull contractors stand and the fawn moves.They apply the bolt gun a second time.The fawn moves again as the contractors try
to erect the trap.They drop it and
observe the fawn.One contractor starts
to reach for the bolt gun but stops.They proceed again to erect the trap and drag the fawn away by the hind leg.In both cases the fawn is seen moving.The cull contractor returns immediately
leaving the fawn still alive and unattended.A total of six minutes passed between the arrival of the contractors and
the removal of the deer.(bcdeer.org)
Photographs from a second incident show two fawns entangled
in a trap that has collapsed on them.They remain entangled and compressed for at least two hours prior to the
arrival of the cull contractors.It is
not known at this time whether the fawns’ struggle was so violent as to
dislodge the mechanism holding the trap upright or whether
the mechanism was faulty.Regardless,
no-one checked the trap during that two hour period to end the suffering of
these two animals. (bcdeer.org)
In the letter to the Minister, we urge him in the strongest
possible terms to end the cull, conduct a full investigation of the violations
of the permit and lay charges where appropriate.In addition, we ask that the permit for the current
contractor be revoked until the investigation is complete.
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Contact:Devin Kazakoff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz White: 1-416-462-9541 (23),
416-809-4371 (cell) or email@example.com
1-905-472-9731 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sherry Adams, 250-432-5238 (cell) or