Nova Scotia

Truro cracks down on homeowner feeding deer in her yard

The town of Truro is cracking down on a homeowner who's been feeding deer in her backyard over the winter months, by issuing a $233.95 ticket for violating the town's bylaw governing feeding wild birds and animals.

Woman fined $233.95 for violating bylaw governing feeding wild birds and animals

Truro town councillor Tom Chisholm says a number of concerns have been raised about the deer, but one of the most serious is the risk of Lyme disease. (Karen Messier)

The town of Truro is cracking down on a homeowner who's been feeding deer in her backyard over the winter months, by issuing a $233.95 ticket for violating the town's bylaw governing feeding wild birds and animals.

Town officials said some neighbours had complained that the deer tore up lawns, ate shrubs, gardens and are becoming a hazard to drivers.

Tom Chisholm, a Truro councillor, said he heard the complaints and went to see the situation for himself.

"As I'm driving up, I can see three deer standing in this driveway looking at me. And I thought, 'Well, I think I'm in the right place,'" he told CBC's Maritime Noon.

"I counted 13 in the backyard. And this was at 2:30 in the afternoon — which is not probably the high time for them to be out. It looked almost like you were looking at a cattle pen. And the cattle were all just sitting around eating. The concentration was high. We're not talking a very large yard."

Town officials said a bylaw officer met with the woman and a family member four times and told them feeding deer was not permitted. The feedings continued, resulting in a written warning at first — then the summary offence ticket.

"While I do empathize with the property owner and understand that they really value being able to interact with the deer and believe they are helping the animals, the bylaw needs to be enforced," Labinot Shala, a bylaw officer for Truro, said in a statement.

"Feeding the animals doesn't contribute to a healthy deer population and it puts both the animals and humans at risk."

Lyme disease concerns

Chisholm said a number of concerns have been raised about the deer, but one of the most serious is the risk of Lyme disease.

"They're getting their plants eaten up and everything, but the bigger issue is that a lot of people are scared of catching Lyme disease," said Chisholm.

"Deer have deer ticks, right? And if they're all in your backyard, your own children are going to get it, you're going to get it. Plus the fact that a number of people have hit a deer. When you're in town you don't expect to see a deer jump in front of your car all the time."

He said the right thing to do is to stop feeding the deer.

"The best thing is we get people to stop feeding the deer and maybe the deer will go back to the woods. Maybe not them all, but we can't have a large concentration in town," said Chisholm.

"If someone on a busy residential street started raising cattle and had 30 head of cattle in their backyard, I think you'd get complaints, too."

However, Chisholm said the woman refuses to stop feeding the deer.

"We're going to keep an eye on the situation. I mean, we can issue her other tickets as well, but sometimes people just like to get their 15 minutes of fame," said Chisholm.

"We're going to do our best. I mean, we have to do something — we can't come in and just start shooting deer or anything, so the best thing we can do is not attract them to the town."

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