03/12/2012 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/12/2012 05:12 EDT

Invermere, B.C. Deer Cull Protest Could Bring Criminal Charges

Vocal opponents of an urban deer cull in Invermere, B.C., could face criminal charges for allegedly harassing and intimidating the contractor hired to carry out the cull.

RCMP say they have recommended members of the Invermere Deer Protection Organization, including spokesman Devin Kazakoff, be charged with causing a disturbance and mischief, but the charges have not yet been approved by a Crown prosecutor.

The group opposes the methods used by the District of Invermere to cull 100 urban deer, which have become a nuisance in communities across the East Kootenay — attacking pets and even people.

The group originally got a court injunction to stop the cull. Once it expired the cull began, but the opposition continued, and police now say things are getting out of hand.

Vehicles tail cull contractor

Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said in one instance, three vehicles tailed the contractor and an associate as they went around to check traps in the early morning hours.

"They started yelling, verbally abusing the contractors. In a second incident they tried to block the contractor as he was checking traps," said Taft.

The contractor called RCMP, who interviewed Kazakoff, and other members of the deer protection group, and forwarded a charge recommendation to Crown counsel.

Charges have not yet been laid, and Kazakoff said they're unwarranted.

"To me it’s just a way of badgering me and our group and make us out as the bad guys here when all we are trying to do is see what’s going on and inform the public."

Kazakoff said he and others were following the contractor's vehicle to get video footage of the methods used in the cull to later post online. He said the group never left their vehicles and didn't speak to the contractor.

Over the weekend, an RCMP officer was assigned to shadow the contractor and make sure his work went smoothly.

The District of Invermere has a permit to cull 100 urban deer. As of Sunday, 16 animals had been killed and the district's permit to euthanize the deer expires Thursday.

Invermere is the third Kootenay town to cull urban deer in the past six months. Cranbrook did a deer cull in the fall and Kimberley conducted its cull in January.