To Cull Or Not To Cull...

Deer culling is a notorious debate that seemingly pits moral and ethical impetus against practical and convenient reasoning.  It’s simply a question of which side of the deer fence you’re on.  However despite the polemic dispute, Penticton City Council has approved a deer cull as part of an urban deer management program.  Public education, ongoing monitoring, consultation and a ban on public feeding of deer are to follow in suit accordingly.  Although the date of the cull has yet to be set, the issue lingers in the gray matter of the debate itself.  Quantification is clearly lacking, and the want of accurate numerical data not only directly affects budget costs, but also the accuracy of population control by numbers.  And while it is true some Penticton residents will feel relief by way of their private gardens and undamaged cedar hedges, the culling will nevertheless fall short of our ethical and moral accountability.

Deer culling is a drastic step, argued by many to be cruel and barbaric.  Trapped in a cage by night, often struggling and kicking, deer frequently fracture limbs and sustain other injuries before they are shot in the head with a bolt gun.  Captive bolt guns however, were designed for use on restrained domestic animals, typically in slaughterhouses, and were not, under any circumstances, intended for use on wild animals.  While the bolt cannot effect a clean kill when the animal is not placed in a single-fire lane, restrained, with it’s head immobilized, a misplaced bolt can therefore painfully injure, necessitating the need for multiple attempts.   If “swift” and “certain” define in part, what it means to bring about a humane end to wildlife via population control, then the humaneness of the trap and bolt technique is seriously questionable.  And yet, for most of us, to cull or not to cull is simply a question of out of sight out of mind.

The deer cull, which was primarily initiated following 42 reports of urban deer sightings by residents to the City Hall, (the majority of which bordered on agricultural areas), fails to act on proportional representation, and does not seem to factor in the consideration of human overpopulation, urban sprawl and destruction of wildlife habitats.  Likewise, the culling unintentionally localizes responsibility among specific property owners, potentially creating personal animosity among members within the community.  On the other hand, the growing number of wayward wandering urban deer does in fact contribute to a rising increase in altercations between individuals and deer, pet animals and deer, attracts a range of other wildlife including coyotes, cougars and ticks, and makes driving more hazardous.  Therefore, despite the city’s inability to generate substantial numbers in order to understand the scale of such implications and their impact, the shortlist is enough to sustain a call to action.  Yet emphasis on ethical and moral integrity should not be displaced when considering such policies for human, animal and environmental protection.  Hence the question becomes more distinguishable: why not seriously explore a cohesive ongoing program and non-lethal alternatives and interventions to address human/deer conflicts?

First and foremost, a one-time cull may not solve the problem.  While the net-and-bolt tactic would most likely not reduce the size of the herd down to the desirable number, complaints to the city would therefore continue.  Consequently an annual cull might be required, in which yearly controversy on the issue would be hard pressing upon City Council, and residents may not have the stomachs for the unremitting slaughter.  Contrariwise, a non-lethal approach would help to integrate ethical and moral responsibility into the decision-making process, potentially reducing the polemical aspect of the debate itself, while providing Council with a program to help address complaints. Some of the components of an ongoing preventable program include: moving deer from the area, excluding deer from conflict areas and from specific plants and bushes through fencing, (which provides a longer term solution to the impact of deer on landscaping and backyard gardens) the use of repellents to make plants less palatable and less desirable to deer, the use of deterrents such as sound and visual scare devices, as well as planting less palatable landscape plants.  Lastly, one of the most ostensibly formidable non-lethal options available would be immunocontraception.  This alternative approach would require a select number of deer to be hit with a dart every two years, containing a vaccine rendering the deer sterile.  According to procedures of the new method of wildlife population control, animal marking would be synchronized with vaccine penetration, allowing experts to track and recognize which deer have been hit.  Furthermore at $30 per dart, the cost of immunocontraception would be significantly less than any form at lethal control, which for the city of Penticton would require $150 per deer culled.  Immunocontraception thus appears to be the more “humane” and cost-effective method of wildlife control.

So when reviewing the hot topic of debate this week: to cull or not to cull, the interrogation, it seems, claws at the heart of two imposing philosophies. While one apparently supports a more tactile, less costly and humane approach, the other seemingly provides a tangible short-term eradication.  Therefore as a collective community we should then ask ourselves: what are we truly looking for?  Delayed gratification, or instant satisfaction with the tailing potential for prolonged problems?  Penticton is a favorite destination for all sorts of people from all walks of life from all around the world.  Situated in the heart of BC’s wild southern interior, Penticton is not only a picturesque place to live, but remains a refuge for a wide range of Canada’s most extraordinary wildlife without which we would be indistinguishable, empty and forlorn.  As residents and inhabitants of this spectacular landscape, we are entrusted by its nature, to preserve, protect and respect the beauty and sanctity of its wisdom and love, in which it has always given back absolutely.  Deer culling is like a gateway drug to bigger and more grotesque reckonings.  What’s next, soylent green?  Let’s replace the “out of sight out of mind” with “in your right mind” and approach this problem with steadfast moral and ethical sensibilities, long-term solutions and peaceful, harmonious resolve.

-Elizabeth Cucnik




A Worldwide Sensation, The Musical "Evita" Makes Its Penticton Debut!

For those of you who’ve been hiding under a rock the past two decades, you might not be familiar with the phenomenon, Evita.   In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a person who could not chorus, “Don’t Cry for me Argentina,” the haunting hallmark of popular music that never seems to elude even the least musically attuned.   Singularly one of the most prevalent critically acclaimed musicals of a generation, Evita’s authenticity, power and humanity transcends to capture the heart in a sweeping dream of human experience.   With more accolades to boot than a hall of fame rock n’ roller, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, is its own kind of “superstar.”  Following the real life story of political leader Eva Peron, Evita was originally conceived as a rock opera album, however overwhelming critical reception later lead to sold out shows in London’s West End and Broadway, followed by a string of professional tours, worldwide productions, various cast albums, as well as a major motion picture adaptation starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.  The musical employs an eclectic range of styles, from classical to instrumental, while rhythmic Latin American flairs can be heard in "Buenos Aires", and "On This Night of a Thousand Stars", ballads include "High Flying, Adored" and "Another Suitcase in Another Hall", and rock music adorns in "Oh What a Circus" and "Peron's Latest Flame.”


So come out and experience what the world has been talking about for over twenty years, as Soundstage Production’s presents, Evita in its long sought-after Penticton Debut at the Lakeside Resort.  Opening January 18th and playing through to the 21rst, with an afternoon matinee show on the Saturday, Evita is a musical spectacular, to be experienced by all ages.  First conceived in 1990 by humble beginnings, Soundstage Productions has grown into one of the most acclaimed theatre companies in the Okanagan.  The Penticton Lakeside Resort is now home to Soundstage, showcasing professional full-scale musical productions in an intimate theatre setting where one can truly experience the magnitude of world-class performance.  Soundstage Productions never fails to enthrall, enrapture and unravel the senses, with its stunning commitment to artistic depth, performance and musical insight, it continues to inspire and create.

An evening of musical entertainment of the finest quality and professionalism is yours to experience and not to be missed!  Tickets for Evita can be purchased at the front desk of the Lakeside Resort Hotel or by calling 250-493-8221.

Evita is not just a sensational endeavor; it is a revolution of musical and lyrical genius.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


January's Calendar is No Less Full Than a Post-Christmas Belly

The New Year is upon us.  It settles in, like a nesting bird upon the tree of our daily lives, as memories of the holiday season fall to the ground, the last leafy drags sifting into dust from a dream.   Stores swiftly revamp commercial drives to grapple at the next fast-approaching observance with cunning ease, whereas the rest of us fumble at the knot of our ends and beginnings, to pursue a long string of uncomplicated sensibility.  However the festive spirit does not diminish come New Years Day.  In fact, the myriad of calendrical observances that exhaust the coming months, honour the enduring will of humanity by their persistent desire for thoughtfulness and transcendental expression.  It seems we are always on the run.

While it’s easy to get lost in the clutter of commemorations that trail each month, some stand worthy of our attention.  The Twelve Days of Christmas, a tradition remarked by the more popular English Christmas Carol, customarily extends throughout Christmastide until January 5th, (the “Twelfth night”), while Orthodox Christmas falls more commonly on January 7th, (Christmas Day) following the Julian calendar.  Meanwhile, the Old New Year, an informal, traditional Orthodox holiday, celebrates the start of the New Year of the Julian calendar on January 14th.  Martin Luther King Day follows on January 16th, while the Chinese New Year and Robbie Burns Day proceed to fill out the end of the calendar month with supping, toasting, dancing, music and fireworks.

It is interesting to note the relevant changes of such celebrations over the years, as our cultures and societies take on fresh shapes molded by particular economic and social interests.  Throughout the commonwealth for example, aspects of the Twelve Days are still celebrated, such as Boxing Day, (a national holiday) being the first full day of Christmas.  Chief culinary elements of the celebration, as are featured in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, still remain relevant in Britain, (plum pudding, roasted goose and wassail.) However such traditions as the Epiphany Feast and Twelve Days have mostly been forgotten in North America.  Widely popular nineteenth century stories focusing on generous gift-giving, the corresponding rise of commercialism and shopping campaigns, as well as the introduction of more secular traditions such as Santa Claus, and the growing popularity of New Year’s Eve parties are key contributing factors. Nevertheless, despite these fading seasonal customs, many Christians in other parts of the world continue to celebrate the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas according to their traditions.

Like a spike of insulin from a sudden hit of sugar, Christmas has become that decadent piece of dessert we tend to lament after consuming.  Did I really need that?  Have I eaten too much?  I wish there was more… But Christmas is not about gluttonous ambiguity.  Rather it’s a return to the simplicities of our nature brought forth into New Year in a humble parcel of goodwill and love.  January 1rst should never be known as the come-down of the holiday season to salt the soils of our heart. Rather it is the fertilizing nourishment for the months to come, a steady pulse of celebratory spirit from which new things can begin to grow.  Even though we may have lost aspects of our historical customs that once lit up January like a festive holiday display of Christmas lights, wooden reindeer, nativity scenes and blow up Frosty the Snow Mans, we can still appreciate the impetus of the season: the strive for synergistic appreciation, benevolence and love.

-Elizabeth Cucnik