British Columbia

Cranbrook 1st B.C. city with permit to kill deer

Cranbrook has quietly begun killing aggressive deer that have invaded its city limits, with 17 animals already trapped and killed.

Butchered animals are given to food bank and Salvation Army

Deer have become a nuisance in the city of Cranbrook, attacking pets and even people. The city expects to cull 25 deer by the end of 2011. (CBC)

The City of Cranbrook has quietly begun killing aggressive deer that have invaded its city limits.

Officials said dozens of mule and white-tailed deer have become habituated to urban living and refuse to leave.

Cranbrook is the first municipality in B.C. to get a permit from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the provincial agency responsible for deer control.

The current permit allows the city to kill 25 deer.

A contractor began work on the project on Dec. 6, setting and baiting 10 netted traps. 

In the middle of the night, the contractor checks the traps. Any caught deer are then killed with a bolt gun similar to the tool used for killing in slaughterhouses. The deer are then butchered and given to the local food bank and Salvation Army.

As of Wednesday, 17 deer had been captured and killed under the city's permit.

Cranbrook communications officer Chris Zettel, who also helped set up the deer cull, said the city wants to finish quickly and then determine if the cull had an effect on the herd. 

"The intent of this is really just a trial to thin the herds to see if it is having an effect in the spring, of aggressive does, and in the fall of overzealous bucks," said Zettel.

"The hope is you will catch a lot of those really bad ones."

Some of the animals have lived in town for generations.

The animals have caused car accidents, they brazenly graze on flowers, and have even attacked pets and people. 

Officials said that for many residents, the 'last straw' was a video that went viral on YouTube that shows a white tailed deer stomping on a dog on a quiet Cranbrook street while the dog's owner shrieks in horror.

Other B.C. towns, such as Grand Forks and Kimberly, are closely watching Cranbrook's experiment. They too have problem deer, and are working out their own plans to deal with the animals.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating