New Brunswick is set to become the fifth province to allow farming of captive-bred white-tailed deer -- but only for farmers' own use or for live exports to other jurisdictions.
The provincial natural resources department announced Thursday it will set up a permit system, requiring deer farmers to comply with provincial rules, including fencing standards and identification requirements for farmed deer, in order to obtain such permits.
Once existing deer farmers have been notified by mail, the province said, they have six months to meet the terms needed to obtain an operating permit.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec already allow white-tailed deer farming, but those provinces' limits on such farming vary, the province said Thursday.
Depending on the province, deer in those jurisdictions can be raised for live export to other jurisdictions, for the sale of meat and other products, for hunting within enclosed areas and/or "a combination of those purposes," New Brunswick noted.
The New Brunswick system, which will also permit imports of captive-bred white-tailed deer for breeding, will continue to prohibit pen hunting.
Deer farmers also will not be permitted to sell white-tailed deer meat and other white-tailed products within New Brunswick.
"If we allow farmed white-tailed deer to be slaughtered and sold here, this would open the door to poachers who could sell wild deer meat and claim it came from farmed animals," Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said in a release. "This would be a serious threat to our wild deer population."
The province until now has banned keeping of white-tailed deer in captivity, including those bred or already raised that way.
Northrup in January 2012 announced his department had found 15 locations where a total of over 140 white-tailed deer were living in captivity.
The province at that time gave the farmers in those cases until mid-June 2012 to dispose of white-tailed deer they were alleged to be keeping.
The order came after the October 2011 death of a Edmundston-area man, who RCMP believe was attacked by a dominant male deer while the man tended a penned herd.
Shortly before the June deadline, however, Northrup instead announced a review of the province's policy on deer farming, in which the province aimed to gather "the necessary facts to determine whether the farming of white-tailed deer is an activity that can be safely carried out in the province."
New Brunswick, Northrup said Thursday, has "concluded that white-tailed deer farming can be carried out in a safe manner in our province" after studying other provinces' rules and gathering feedback from residents.
Deer farmers, the province noted Thursday, will also have to comply with federal requirements for disease tracking, testing and stock certification for interprovincial trade in deer species.
"The rules established by the province and federally will mitigate risks to wild populations of white-tailed deer from escapes, disease and illegal trade," Northrup said.