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Farmer wants hunters to be able to kill more deer

A farmer in Keswick Ridge says an overabundance of deer are destroying his apple orchard and hunters should be allowed to kill more of them.

Andrew Lovell, of Keswick Ridge, says half of his apple orchard has been destroyed and he needs help

Andrew Lovell says half of his apple crops at Riverview Orchards in Keswick Ridge have been destroyed by deer. (CBC)

An apple orchard owner in Keswick Ridge is calling on the New Brunswick government to allow hunters to kill more deer to help protect farmers like him across the province.

Andrew Lovell, of Riverview Orchards, says an overabundance of deer have destroyed about half of his crop, costing him about $80,000 in losses.

"That's your future, that's your livelihood, your income. That's your children's education," he said.

The Department of Natural Resources is currently reviewing a province-wide deer management proposal put forward by farmers, which would allow hunters to kill more deer.

The department does not have a timeline for when the proposal could be approved.

"Politically, right now, things aren't as sharp or as expedient as they should be," said Lovell, noting a similar plan is already in the works for the Kennebecasis Valley.

Under the proposed Nuisance Deer Management Assistance Program, announced earlier this month, the department would issue 200 special deer permits to hunters in Rothesay, Quispamsis and Hampton this fall, allowing them to each kill one doe.

Hunters are normally allowed to kill only one deer each during the seven-week season, but those issued a special permit would have the opportunity to take a second deer.

Lovell contends the government needs to act more urgently to help farmers.

"We're kind of frustrated that it hasn't been moved along a little bit quicker, I guess, because of the major losses to apple producers throughout New Brunswick," he said.

“I'm concerned that if more isn't done to help agriculture producers throughout this province, that we will begin to lose more and more farms, and I don’t think we can't afford to lose any more.”

Lovell, who bought his farm in 2012, says he's running out of options.

He already tried putting up a fence to keep the deer out, but says it didn't work.

"We can snowmobile through here in the winter time and we can count up to 30 deer in the orchard. And we chase them out and then an hour later, they're back."