Conservation officers with the Department of Natural Resources have informed individuals that they must dispose of captive white-tailed deer in an acceptable manner. Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup made the announcement today.
"The tragic death in October 2011 of a Saint-Léonard man killed by a captive male white-tailed deer brought to light the illegal practice of keeping white-tailed deer in captivity,'' said Northrup. "I asked department staff to look into this practice, and they have identified 15 locations with a total of more than 140 captive white-tailed deer. Staff have recently hand-delivered letters to each location, advising that all captive white-tailed deer must be disposed of in an acceptable manner.''
Biologists warn that captive white-tailed deer pose a risk to native wildlife populations, human health and public safety. Under the Fish and Wildlife Act, white-tailed deer cannot be kept in captivity, regardless whether they were bred or raised in captivity.
The hand-delivered letters provided operators with the options of:
● harvesting animals for personal use only. Meat and other products from white-tailed deer cannot be sold, traded, exported or transferred to another person;
● transferring animals to a jurisdiction where white-tailed deer can be legally kept in captivity. This would require approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Those keeping white-tailed deer in captivity have until Feb. 1 to provide the department with a plan to transfer the deer to another jurisdiction or dispose of the animals. Transfer or disposal must take place by June 15.
The letter warns that failure to comply will result in prosecution. As well, operators have been told not to release captive white-tailed deer into the wild due to the risk of spreading disease to wildlife. Conservation officers will monitor the locations where animals are being kept captive to ensure white-tailed deer are not released.
Permits are available to keep some non-native deer species such as elk, fallow deer and red deer in captivity for agricultural purposes. Northrup said department staff will work with people keeping non-native species to ensure they have the necessary permits and abide by the terms and conditions set out to minimize concerns related to the spread of disease.