The Town of New Glasgow continues to take steps to address the deer population.
Chief administrative officer Lisa MacDonald spoke at the town’s committee meeting last week on the topic, telling council about her most recent discussion with representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.
“Our pellet group inventory is being completed now,” said MacDonald, about the counting of deer pellet piles. “The biologist that’s doing the work, he’s completed nine of the 11 routes so he’ll finish the last two routes in the next couple of days. You can’t do that collection once everything greens.”
MacDonald said once the pellet inventory was collected, the biologist would compile a report for the town, which would include a comparison from the first pellet group inventory and this one, “to see if there’s been any changes in our population.” The town would engage the biologist next year for another inventory. According to the provincial Natural Resources and Renewables website, the routes are randomly selected and are one-kilometre long and two metres wide.
“You have to have three years of evidence before having next step conversations about any potential efforts to reduce your numbers,” she said.
Mayor Nancy Dicks said deer in the town limits continues to be one of the top concerns for residents, with a number of councillors chiming in about receiving complaints.
“The number one issue continues to be people feeding them,” said MacDonald.
The town is engaging with a retired biologist from the province’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. MacDonald said he understands the entire process and by using him all three years, they’ll have continuity and consistency the province is looking for. The chief administrative officer has been touching base with the other Pictou County municipal units to see if they’re doing similar work, and so far the only response, she says, is from the Town of Pictou. She told council that town isn’t interested in a deer management plan.
New Glasgow has had a bylaw since 2015 prohibiting the feeding of wild animals. The bylaw considers a wild animal as any animal that’s not domesticated.
“No person shall feed one or more wild animals in any place in such a manner or to such an extent that doing so causes or may cause an unreasonable interference with another persons’ use and enjoyment of his or her property, or of a public place,” reads the bylaw.
MacDonald said the town has issued a number of warnings under the bylaw, which has been “reasonably effective”, however hasn’t issued any Summary Offence Tickets with fines ranging from $50 to $1,000. She said the reason no tickets or fines have been issued is because there has to be evidence.
“They don’t want to tell on their neighbours,” she said, of the people complaining to the town office of those feeding the deer. “That’s not really helpful, because that’s the root of the issue. The problem is, they have to have evidence to issue the ticket. So if neighbours complain and we have to get the evidence, that’s the challenging part. It’s no different than giving a statement to the police.”
The town’s chief administrative officer says it could be difficult for the town to have a deer management plan in place if neighbouring units don’t go similar routes.
Deer, she says, don’t know municipal boundaries.
“It will be very challenging for the Town of New Glasgow to implement its own management plan without having Trenton, Stellarton and Westville,” she said.
Once she hears back from the other municipal units and the pellet group inventory is complete, MacDonald will resume discussions with the province. She said educational signage will be key to keeping the issue at bay, and wording for the signage would be done in conjunction with the province.