The B.C. government has suspended a controversial deer cull in a Rocky Mountain mining town near the Alberta border, after an eight-year-old boy saw the killing being carried out in broad daylight.
The District of Elkford, located in the East Kootenays 16 kilometres west of the B.C.-Alberta border, had a permit to cull up to 50 urban deer. Under the dictates of B.C.'s Wildlife Act, the cull was supposed to take place at night to reduce stress on the animals.
On Monday, however, the contractor hired by Elkford allegedly began trapping and killing deer while the sun was still up and people were nearby, including an eight-year-old boy.
Devin Kazakoff, president of the Invermere Deer Protection Society, has launched a complaint and asked the province to stop the cull.
"They were just traumatized because of it. It’s not right. Elkford residents should not have to go through this," said Kazakoff.
Fish and Wildlife manager John Krebs says the province has put the killing on hold for a week while conservation officers investigate.
"What we’ve done immediately is we’ve suspended the permit," said Krebs. "We’ll look at what we find and decide if we resume or not [and] under what conditions."
Urban deer have become a nuisance in the Kootenays over the past few years, attacking pets and even people, but there is long-term opposition to the region's plans to cull them.
In October 2013, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled against a group of animal rights activists trying to stop the culling of deer in Invermere, B.C.