A New Brunswick town’s long-standing problem with deer could help some families struggling to get food on the table this year.
The Government of New Brunswick has announced the launch of a program that will distribute meat harvested from the annual nuisance deer hunt in Saint Andrews to local food banks.
The program, according to the province, is expected to deliver up to 450 kilograms of ground game and stew meat to those in need.
Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson said the program was something his town had been considering for two years as part of solutions to deal with deer overpopulation.
âThe annual nuisance hunt in Saint Andrews has been going on for several yearsâ¦ and it’s no different than a normal deer hunt,â said Henderson.
For years, deer have aroused the ire of residents of Saint Andrews who blame them for destroying gardens and causing car accidents while frequently crossing the street.
Deer can also carry ticks that are infected with the bacteria Borrelia, which causes Lyme disease.
Henderson said a University of New Brunswick study estimated there were about 22 deer per square kilometer in the city, about four times more than in other communities of similar size.
Hunters participating in the program will receive two tags to harvest a deer for themselves and one for food banks.
When a deer is killed, the hunter registers it with the local conservation office and later brings it to a butcher who has been selected to participate in the program. The butcher’s meat will then be taken to local food banks, Henderson said.
“So ][there’s] a lot more to this program than obviously a normal deer harvest, but you know, you have a group of people who are really interested in helping the food bank, âsaid Henderson.
“And of course, trying to control the deer population in Saint Andrews, because unfortunately nuisance hunting to date has not really stopped or decreased the deer population, but it has helped control overpopulation.”
Henderson said food banks typically receive donations for pasta, grains and other non-perishable foods, which means that deer meat will go a long way in providing families with a quality source of protein.
âHaving fresh meatâ¦ it’s going to be something new for them,â he said.
The Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development has written a manual explaining the rules and guidelines hunters must follow for the program.
Only “animals in very good health” will be accepted and can only be harvested on days colder than 15 Â° C, Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland said in a press release.
âThe manual also discusses best practices for dressing and field transport,â said Holland. âOnce the hunter registers their tagged deer with us, all of that animal’s meat can be traced all the way through, from the meat processor to the food bank to the consumer.