There are 15 illegal white-tailed deer farms in New Brunswick. (CBC)

New Brunswick deer farmers met in St. Quentin over the weekend to discuss fighting the provincial government's plan to shut them down.

Together, the deer farmers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their operations, said Pierre Bourgouin, who raises stags.

And some of the operations have been in business for almost 30 years, he said.

The Department of Natural Resources contends the deer farms are illegal and has given owners until June 15 to shut them down.

Owners must kill their herds and harvest the meat for their consumption only, or ship them outside the province to a jurisdiction, such as Quebec, that allows white-tailed deer farms.

Deer farms came under scrutiny last fall after a northwestern New Brunswick man was killed. Donald Dubé, 55, of Saint-Léonard died of multiple antler blows when a buck attacked him in his backyard pen.

An internal investigation revealed there are 15 operations across the province with a total of more than 140 deer.

The province's Fish and Wildlife Act prohibits people from keeping native and non-native wildlife in captivity without a permit. No permit has been ever issued for white-tailed deer farms.

Biologists warn that captive white-tailed deer pose a risk to native wildlife populations, human health and public safety.