Growing deer population treats Saint Andrews as 'salad bar'
Full-page newspaper ad this week asks town and province to take action
Don Feeney used to have a beautiful garden filled with flower beds and colourful plants. But he had to replace it all because of the deer problem in Saint Andrews.
He said he can see deer roaming the town any time of day.
"Used to be at dusk, now it's through the day," he said. "Any time at all."
He's not the only one with garden issues in the seaside town — Saint Andrews's deer problem isn't a new one. The town has been dealing with an overpopulation for many years.
But this week, citizens had enough.
A full-page ad ran in the Telegraph-Journal newspaper calling on the province and the town to do something about the issue.
The ad goes into detail about issues residents are facing because of the deer, including the spread of Lyme disease through an increased number of ticks, the risk of collisions with cars, and residents losing their gardens.
Tim Henderson, executive director of the Kingsbrae Garden, was one of the authors of the ad. He said he hopes it will produce some results.
"We felt it imperative we do something to try to instill some sort of motivation for our public leaders to do something to deal with the problem," he said.
Saint Andrews Mayor Doug Naish said he's aware of the ad and agrees something needs to be done to deal with the deer.
He said the latest estimates he's been given are that there are 200 deer in the downtown area on any given day.
In the past, the town proposed a relocation program for the deer, but Naish said the government of the day turned that down because research indicated the move would cause the deer stress and they would die.
Instead, the town joined the so-called nuisance hunt program, which allows bow hunters to get a permit to hunt within town limits.
Representatives from the town met with the province this week to talk about the deer problem. The mayor said the talk with Mike Holland, the minister of energy and resource development, centred on expanding the nuisance hunt.
But Naish said most of the deer live in densely populated areas, where hunting is not allowed.
"The position that Saint Andrews has taken and the position that we took two years ago was that adding hunting is not going to resolve the problem because under no circumstances can we hunt out front there," he said, pointing to the crowds on Water Street outside his window at Town Hall.
He said the minister was not as receptive to the idea of relocation, but Naish hasn't given up.
He has drafted a resolution to be put to the Union of New Brunswick Municipalities, calling on the province to establish a deer-relocation program. That draft will be put to town council on Monday night.
A cost to residents
Along with worrying about the health and safety issues of deer roaming the town, Henderson said replacing gardens and fences is costing the residents of the town lots of money.
"People are giving up," he said. "They're not maintaining their gardens, they can't afford to replace thousands of dollars of hedges."
Kingsbrae Garden itself has spent thousands of dollars trying to keep the deer from eating the flowers.
"The entrance to the parking area we spent probably $40,000 to $50,000 in fencing to put around the garden," he said. "We've had to we patrol it every day because the deer patrol it every day to get in."
Evidence of people protecting their gardens is as abundant as the deer in Saint Andrews. People have cages and fences and wire covering their hedges and flower beds to stop the deer from eating their plants.
"They found what they needed here," Naish said. "It's like a salad bar."