An act of charity was recently brought to a standstill by the heavy hand of government regulation—this time when the charitable solution would have both helped control deer overpopulation and feed the hungry.
According to an article in the Canadian Press, a recent startup project in Saint Andrews (a town in the New Brunswick province) encouraged local hunters to provide venison donations from their hunt to the local food bank. A similar program exists in Nova Scotia, so the startup appeared to be a good idea that could help people without government interference. The hunters were already storing up donations before the project was stalled by government concerns for “health and safety.” Now the would-be donations sit unused in the hunters’ freezers.
It’s a disappointment to many in the town that the stop was initiated in winter when the donation would have helped a number of low-income families during a rough season. Donna Linton, coordinator of the Volunteer Centre, says that the Centre helps roughly 400 people in a month—many of whom live on broth and dandelions without help from the food bank. It’s no question that the Centre is vital to impoverished and struggling families in Saint Andrews, yet it is only just keeping up with its limited meat supply—consisting mostly of frozen hamburgers and hot dogs.
The current burgeoning deer population in the town (reported at 20 deer per square kilometer) stirs up concerns including collisions with motorcycles, confrontations with pedestrians, increased risk and spread of Lyme disease, and complaints of destroyed gardens. Further, the New Brunswick Department of Energy and Resource Development stated that the province’s deer population has been a concern for 10 years, and a simple web search for Saint Andrews’ deer population brings up various results of news articles addressing the deer overpopulation since circa 2018.
According to a CBC News report, the community called for action from officials to handle the issue, running a full page ad in the Telegraph-Journal newspaper in August 2019. A common resolution for this issue would be to relocate the deer—however, according to Saint Andrews Mayor Doug Naish, the government in the past declined a relocation plan under the statement that their research showed that it would only cause the deer to die from stress. Again the Canadian Press reported that the government under Naish’s term actually extended a controlled bow hunt within the province.
In addition to considering relocation and the off-season quota hunt, officials of the province considered birth control for the does, and park rangers have tried scaring the deer away with hazing and loud noise. Unfortunately, the deer have become so accustomed to the town that they appear frequently and do not startle easily.
Despite numerous calls by the community to initiate a solution, the government seems mired in uncertainty. With relocation off the table and the government unwilling to further extend hunting privileges, official channels seem to have failed. The food bank project could have been a final and viable solution if not for the government preventing the community taking matters into their own hands. As of now, the project is not officially rejected as it’s continuation awaits the verdict from health officials, so many remain hopeful.