The towns of Hampton, Rothesay and Quispamsis are hoping the Department of Natural Resources will do something to reduce the number of deer in their communities following a survey of residents.
The online survey showed 83 per cent of 1,705 respondents have concerns about the deer population, including the number of motor vehicle accidents they cause, the risk of Lyme disease, and damage to gardens.
About 42 per cent of those surveyed in April said someone in their household has been involved in a deer-vehicle collision.
Woody Wilson says both of his sons have hit a deer. His youngest son got away with minimal damage to the car, but his older son wasn't so lucky.
"He managed to drive it home, but as soon as he got it in the yard then I had to get it towed because the radiator was gone," said Wilson. "So it cost me about a couple thousand dollars to get the truck fixed by the time it was done."
Sgt. Peter Breen of Rothesay Regional Police says there have been 18 reported accidents involving deer so far this year.
"If someone gets hurt hitting a deer they're swerving to avoid it and hitting something more solid," he said.
Breen says anyone driving through the community will easily spot about a dozen deer.
"A couple of days ago we saw eight," said Wilson's wife, Avis. "But we have seen as many as 40. And that would be like an hour walk."
Lyme disease concerns
More than 80 per cent of respondents said they're worried about Lyme disease. Forty-two per cent said they have found ticks on their pets and 14 per cent have found ticks on family members.
Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, can carry Lyme disease. If left untreated, people bitten by an infected tick can develop arthritis, neurological and heart problems.
The deer are also causing problems for gardeners, according to the survey. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents said deer have damaged plants on their property.
Emery Nyers built a $20,000 fence to try to keep them out.
"Every morning I came out, I saw them just sitting down, just like in the barn. You get close to them you can almost pet them. I mean it's interesting, but not when they eat everything," he said.
Call for deer management plan
Quispamsis Coun. Emil Olsen, who is a member of the KV Deer Committee, says the deer problem is of definite concern to the town councils, but not part of their mandate.
It's the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources to come up with a solution for the estimated 34,000 residents in the region, he said.
About 85 per cent of those surveyed said they support asking the provincial government to develop and implement a deer management plan.
The department currently divides the province into wildlife zones. Hampton and the Kennebecasis Valley are in zone 23, an area that stretches to Sussex.
"Where it's being skewed, is that the area's so large, that in some areas there's no deer and in other parts there's a lot of deer. So we're looking at dividing the area to be more representative of where the deer are," Olsen said.
The majority of the deer in zone 23 can't be hunted, but the towns are hoping the department can subdivide the zone into a unique zone for the municipalities to help reduce the herd.
The three municipalities plan to send the results of the survey to the minister of Natural Resources by the end of the month, said Olsen.