‘Good God, it’s cruelty’: conservation officers in helicopters hunting diseased deer
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2021 (465 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba Conservation is being accused of using Rambo-like tactics to kill deer in the battle to find chronic wasting disease, by swooping in on the animals in a chopper and shooting them with semi-automatic weapons.
“Good God, it’s cruelty,” said Randy Chambers, a land owner near MacGregor and member of the local school board, who has been monitoring Manitoba’s emergency response to the discovery of the disease in October.
Hunters and outfitters across the province are watching the “nauseating” scenes unfold in YouTube videos posted by a land owner in western Manitoba. It’s causing distress and anger and has sparked accusations that Manitoba is mishandling detection and management of the disease.
Chambers says U.S. states such as Montana and Wyoming deal more effectively with it by having hunters shoot deer and keep the meat until testing confirms whether the animal was sick.
The disease affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose and caribou. It can devastate animal populations but cannot be transmitted to humans.
Chambers says hunters are mortified by the actions of conservation officers, calling their method “a gross demise” for the animals.
He said it would be more humane and efficient to set up bait piles and have officers lie in wait to make clean and humane kills.
In a statement, a Conservation spokesperson said the deer are being shot after the discovery of two cases in that area of the province.
“Based on science and consultation with other jurisdictions, it has been determined that the best chance to reduce the further spread of CWD is to reduce the deer population in the area it was first discovered,” the statement said.
“CWD is highly contagious. Without immediate action, CWD could run rampant through the province and have devastating effects to wildlife.”
The spokesperson said there is constant communication between ground crews and the helicopters in the air.
“CWD is always fatal, so if it is allowed to continue unchecked, more deer would die a very slow death,” the statement said.
“Every effort is being made to retrieve each animal. The team will not leave any deer behind. The whole point of the exercise is to get samples from the area and we need to collect the animal to get a sample.”
But Richard Geres, who owns land and hunts in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba, said he believes the effort is a waste of time and resources.
“It’s just disheartening to see,” said Geres, who lives near the border in Saskatchewan. “It’s not what Conservation stands for. It is terrible.
“They fly around and shoot them. We saw them shooting from the ground, but they have two choppers chasing the deer until they can shoot them. If they drop a deer, a guy gets out, gets a sling around the neck, and they take them to another location.
“But they don’t get all of them. I saw a dead deer at the edge of the bush. There are no ethical shots being taken.”
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation, which represents hunters in the province, could not be reached for comment.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.