Truro News

The white-tailed deer is a relatively new species to Nova Scotia.


To the editor:

Readers of J. Morissey’s recent letter (“With or without deer…”, July 27/17) may be surprised to learn that most of Nova Scotia’s white-tailed deer aren’t native but were introduced.

For whitetails are correctly called Virginia deer – they’re a southern species. On their own, inching north after the so-called Little Ice Age of 1450-1850, they had barely reached New England by 1800.

The first documented Nova Scotia intro was in 1894. That’s when 11 deer of both sexes were captured in New Brunswick and released near Lake Jolly in Digby County. Other introducti­ons followed in 1910 to Yarmouth and Annapolis counties and near Harrietsfi­eld, in Halifax County.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick whitetails were trickling into Nova Scotia via the Chignecto Isthmus. But our main herd came from introducti­ons demanded by hunter lobbyists. Before that, the only known deer evidence is from prehistori­c aboriginal kitchen middens in New Brunswick’s Fundy region.

Whitetails in good habitat with no predators – coyotes only came here in the 1970s – breed like bunnies. By the 1940s their numbers had exploded – the Golden Years, deer hunters called it. Since then, Mother Nature and controlled hunting have kept the population in balance with its environmen­t.

Except in the Truro area. Why? Mostly because people, aided by Shurgain and other local feed suppliers, are feeding them in the winter. Winter is Mother’s Nature’s pruning time, when she keeps wildlife in balance with its habitat.

The best solution? Stop feeding them – even make it illegal – and the problem will subside. A small cull may be needed.

But really, if pigs and cows – two other introduced species – were running rampant, wouldn’t we cull them? Venison is much tastier and good for you. I’m sure our homeless would welcome some for Christmas dinner.

Gary L. Saunders, Clifton

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