New Brunswick

St. Andrews considers hunt to control deer population

Mayor Stan Choptiany met with officials from the Department of Natural Resources on Monday to discuss what can be done about the deer problem in St. Andrews.

Kingsbrae Garden also wants hunters on property to deal with deer that caused more than $150K in damages

St. Andrews Mayor Stan Choptiany has met with Department of Natural Resources officials to discuss options to curtail the deer problem in his southwestern town. (Neville Crabbe/CBC)

Gardens and yards have become salad bowls for hungry white-tailed deer in St. Andrews, according to the town’s mayor.

Mayor Stan Choptiany met with officials from the Department of Natural Resources on Monday to discuss what can be done about the deer problem in St. Andrews.

Choptiany said the deer are outsmarting the best efforts of residents to keep them out of their yards.

"I have a temporary deer fence up, it's seven feet, they've learned to lift it from the bottom, they've jumped it on top, they've sliced it,” he said.

“It's a frustration."

In November 2014, the town sent a survey to residents to gauge their concerns with the deer population. Of the 250 surveys that were returned, Choptiany said 85 per cent of respondents favour measures to manage the deer population. 

That is the message that the St. Andrews mayor brought to his meeting with the provincial officials.

"The Department of Natural Resources is really only offering one management plan and it's based on the same plan that has been worked through the Kennebecasis Valley,” he said.

In the fall of 2014, hunters took 103 deer from Rothesay, Quispamsis and Hampton, according to Bob Doucet, who chairs the Kennebecasis Valley Deer Committee. 

St. Andrews proposal in early stages

Joe Kennedy, a provincial deer biologist, said in an email to CBC News the department has not submitted a formal proposal to the Town of St. Andrews and is not considering an active management plan at this time.

White-tailed deer are turning into a major nuisance for homes and businesses in St. Andrews. (CBC)
"The Department of Natural Resources is simply providing the town with information about the deer management strategy in Kennebecasis Valley,” he wrote.

However, Choptiany said a possible plan would be for doe tags to be issued to St. Andrews property owners who want them and have a sufficient size lot to safely allow hunting.

The next step would be to create a bylaw that prohibits feeding deer in the town limits.

The mayor said there will be opportunities for more public input before a final decision is made on hunting deer in the town.

The province’s hunting rules makes it illegal to fire a rifle within 400 metres of a home or other place normally used by people. The distance for bow hunting is 100 metres.

Property owners would control who accesses their land, according to Choptiany.

"The number of tags for a particular property could be anything from one to 10 tags,” the mayor said.

“They would be doe tags and the property owner would be responsible for contacting a hunter who is certified. So it wouldn't be a case that hunters could just come on a property, there would have to be that clear negotiation."

Kingsbrae Garden plagued by hungry deer

It isn’t just homeowners who are having a problem with the local deer population.

With 11 hectares of manicured green space, the Kingsbrae horticultural garden in St. Andrews is a prime target for the hungry deer.

Tim Henderson, the garden's managing director, said the amount of damage done by the deer to the property has been escalating in recent years.

“The amount of damage the deer are actually doing in the garden itself. They destroy not only hedges, but very valuable perennials that take years and years to mature and grow," Henderson said.

"Last year, last winter, we suffered over $150,000 in damage alone. For a horticultural garden to lose those valuable plants and 100-year-old hedges, it's quite devastating to us." 

Despite fencing the entire property and other measures, Henderson said, it's not uncommon to see more than 20 deer inside the garden.

As a result, representatives of Kingsbrae have also been meeting with DNR to discuss hunting on the property.

"We've asked for that," Henderson said.

"It is our intention to actively pursue that." 

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