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Deer oh deer: Truro to create new committee to combat town’s deer population

Council approves the establishment of a deer management strategy, but Mayor Bill Mills is not convinced

3 min read
caption This sign advises deer to not eat human food, as it's a dangerous mistake in kindness.
Brooklyn Connolly

Truro’s council is creating a new group to help develop a management strategy for their longtime deer issue.

On Monday, Truro councillors voted in favour of establishing a working group to help develop a deer management strategy — which has been the cause of ongoing debate for the last seven years.

“I hope like hell we’re not talking about this on Jan. 11 2022,” Mayor Bill Mills said during the council meeting, adding that councillors have more faith than he does.

“I’m still hoping for a deer-wasting disease to come to Nova Scotia.”

Most residents do not feel lethal means necessary

The town has been working closely with the Department of Lands and Forestry to collect data and information, according to the Urban Deer Management Process Overview. In 2018, the town permitted non-motorized bow hunting in designated areas in an attempt to reduce the deer population. A survey done in the year prior found that only 25 per cent of respondents felt that lethal means were necessary.

“Death and taxes and now deer has become one of those things we’re going to be with as well,” Coun. Cathy Hinton said. “This issue is not going away.”

According to the process overview, Truro’s deer population grew by 70 per cent between 2017-2020. The Department of Lands and Forestry states that if population reduction and control is the town goal, a managed bow hunt is the “only approach with consistent results.”

Deer contraceptives suggested

Local animal-rights activist Ty Savoy thinks otherwise. Savoy would like to see the province look into deer contraceptives, a method that’s being tested in Oak Bay, B.C., with promising results.

“[Nova Scotia] needs to look at this as a legitimate option — they have an agricultural college right there in Bible Hill, right in Truro,” Savoy said. “They could easily get provincial and federal money if they need it for a test program.”

“It just doesn’t seem like the political will is there,” said Savoy.

In the first year of its trial, the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society was able to inoculate 60 deer and tag 17 with a GPS tracker. The lasting results are incomparable to the alternative option of a cull, according to a 2017 independent review done in Oak Bay.

The review found that deer culls and non-lethal translocation of deer had no long-term results. Instead, the population was quick to rise again, and relocated deer “simply [moved] in from the outside.”

Resident offered land

In council on Monday, Mills asked that residents come forward in co-operation to help address this issue.

“One landowner in town has offered up two acres behind his property where there are lots and lots of deer,” Mills said. “I’m told we could use that if necessary.”

Mills continued, asking that residents who feel similarly and that have forested land on their property send an email to the committee, because “[They’d] like to talk to you.”

It is unclear how the land is intended to be used in regard to deer control.

When asked, Tracy Hart, the town’s executive assistant, said in an email that “a volunteered property does not necessarily mean a hunt would happen on that particular property.”

Hart said that should the council approve a managed hunt, various sites would be assessed —including volunteered private property.

The working group will review and modify management actions as they are implemented and consider their impacts on deer. The group does not have an official membership at this point, although it will consist of town staff, lands and forestry officials, members of council as well as external interest groups.

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Brooklyn Connolly

Brooklyn is a journalist based in Halifax, N.S. She's passionate about all things health, policy, and education. Her work has been seen in the...

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  1. J

    Jeff Landry

    I know as a Nova Scotian hunter I'd take a drive if offered 6 tags. I'd gladly donate half of the harvest to Feed Nova Scotia also. Give hunters a place and permission and they will come from across the province.
  2. M

    Matt Acker

    Down in the US some states have designated feed stations for hard winters, start close to the town and keep moving them further away and even splitting the heard If there could be some willing and local land owner's willing to participate, the deer would move out as you moved these feed stations further away from the town It would be far cheaper than some of the other theories which have been brought up and god forbid we have this idea happen “I’m still hoping for a deer-wasting disease to come to Nova Scotia.”
  3. S

    Steve M.

    Deer are major carriers of ticks that cause Lyme disease. This debilitating lifelong condition affects thousands of people in NS, many of whom don't know they have it. These huge deer populations are not natural. Either bring back large predators, or cull the deer for reasons of public health.
  4. J


    The plebiscite in the fall found that more residents supported a managed hunt, your article uses information from a few years ago which makes it sound like residents are not in favour of a cull. If you look into the history of the issue the contraceptive method was already found not to be viable along with fencing and other measures.
    • J

      Jenny Wineberg

      A lot of residents aren't in favor of a cull - look at any post related to the deer cull in Truro. Last week there was an article in the Chronicle Herald - most comments from residents were condemning the cull. In the plebiscite only 39.5% of electors cast a ballot. 56.1% voted in favor and 41.9% voted against. A lot of people in Truro are against their inhumane cull!
      • A


        So you are ok with using the comments you have personally seen on Facebook, which may or may not be from people who live in Truro, over the plebiscite data which was only Truro residents? Those against a cull would also likely be more vocal then those in support of it. Do you know what happens to deer normally when they die? How is during in seconds more inhumane than starving to death or firing of disease because the population is too dense?
  5. K


    Construct fencing around perimeter ToT boundary. Worked successfully in Banf Nat Park on Trans Canada hwy. Worth investigating. If deer cannot hide from bashful predators, natural selection might take place! Having been an east end homeowner, vegetation for human consumption once again available to home owner and not the deer. They come because of easy food supply and predators will follow into urban areas.
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