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Town of Truro, N.S. looks at ways to manage growing deer population, including deer cull

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TRURO, N.S. -

The town of Truro, N.S. has been working on a plan to manage its growing deer population since 2015.

Starting this week, four provincially certified crossbow hunters will embark on a deer hunt in Truro to track and kill 20 female deer.

"It’s part of a deer management strategy the town has been working on with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables," says Alison Grant, Truro’s economic development manager and member of the deer management working committee.

“The controlled management hunt was what the deer management working group felt was the most efficient and feasible solution for the town of Truro.”

Truro Mayor Bill Mills says the increasing deer population has been an issue for more than a decade and the town has an obligation to act.

“The number one reason why it’s a problem today, in many respects, is that people are feeding the deer,” said Mills.

During the 2020 municipal election, the town held a direct vote asking residents whether they supported a deer cull.

Mills says it split the town, as many opposed the idea of a deer hunt inside town limits, while others said it was necessary.

When the votes were counted, 53 per cent of those who voted (2,311 votes) said they were in favour of the cull, versus 1,728 who opposed the hunt.

“A large number of the population feels, 'Yes. It is a problem and we want you to do something about it,’” said Mills.

“There’s definitely a little too much (deer) and they are getting a little too friendly,” said Truro resident Doug White. “It doesn’t help that people are feeding them from their doorsteps either.”

According to Grant, the town is taking a zero waste approach to the hunt and is partnering with Feed Nova Scotia to donate the harvested deer meat to local food banks.

“All of the antlers and the hides are being donated to Millbrook First Nation and then a lot of the internal organs are being used for research purposes,” said Grant.

The town says there are roughly six deer per square kilometre, and estimates the population has increased by 70 per cent in the last three years.

Grant says Truro averages 20 car and deer collisions per year, however those are just the cases reported to police.

Besides the managed hunt, the town has been working on a public education campaign that includes signage around the town encouraging people not to feed the deer.

Grant says they know other municipalities across the Maritimes are experiencing similar issues with increasing deer population.

“The first year of the project is very much a pilot project,” said Grant. “We want to develop best practices and efficiencies in the first year.”

The four crossbow hunters have until mid-February to complete the deer cull.

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