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Group of hunters propose Deer Season Changes in NB

Please note: Wilderness Obsession is not involved in or directly endorse this proposal, but as New Brunswick residents and hunters we believe it is important to pass this information on to our followers.

After seeing a decline in whitetail deer numbers in the province of New Brunswick from nearly 250,000 to perhaps as low as 50,000 in our lifetime, much of the discussion at fish and game clubs is about the future of the deer herd. A number of reasons have been given for the decline, including severe winters, the influx of coyotes, the forestry management practices including the spraying of herbicides, and even an increase in road kill caused by the Fredericton-Moncton highway. Now a group of hunters from southern New Brunswick are looking to gain support for their proposal that they believe will improve the deer herd in Wildlife Management Zone 25.

Charles Leblanc and Gabriel Cormier have over 70 years of whitetail hunting experience between them, and they have been successful over the years. They have seen the decline of the deer herd in their lifetime. Mr. Leblanc once guided hunters in Plaster Rock, NB and he speaks fondly of the time when the province was a dream destination for whitetail hunters that booked guided hunts for thousands of dollars, for a chance to harvest a mature whitetail that was second to none. Now, a quick search of classifieds and Kijiji finds many outfitters looking to sell their businesses, and deer hunting is scarcely mentioned on many outfitter websites.

Although they agree that some of the other reasons have played a role in the decline of the deer herd, it is their belief that the major culprit affecting the decline of the deer herd has been the institution of antlerless deer tags to limit the harvest of female deer.

They circulated a petition a year ago that received 857 signatures in around a month, proposing two things:

  1. That whitetail deer hunting in WMZ 25 be closed for a period of 3 years
  2. That after the closure period, deer harvest be opened to an equal harvest of does in relation to the buck harvest

They presented the petition to MLA Bernard LeBlanc who has supported the plan, and it has gotten them further meetings at other levels of government. On January 11th, 2017 Charles LeBlanc along with MLA Bernard LeBlanc made a presentation to the Department of Energy and Resource Development (DERD) in Fredericton. Their document is attached here.

They believe that the ratio of whitetail bucks to does is out of balance, and that as a result the mature bucks are running themselves ragged trying to breed the does, resulting in an increased winter mortality for them. They say that some age classes of bucks are entirely missing, and that there are very few bucks remaining in zone 25 besides young ones.

The report and their plan is being presented in the two major active Fish and Game Clubs in Zone 25 in early February, and if supported by both, the Minister of DERD was open to implementing the plan.

First up was a meeting on February 1st, at the Sackville Rod and Gun Club this week, and reaction was decidedly against the plan. They felt that the report was mostly anecdotal without a scientific basis, and the proposal was voted down. One member, himself a retired federal biologist, took issue with the report’s claims and had done research on it. He mentioned that the province’s deer biologist made a presentation at the club before Christmas where it was shown that as per sampling from deer killed by being struck by automobiles, the number of females that have been bred has not changed in decades, being over 74% consistently.  Note: Wilderness Obsession previously published DNR NB data with relation to fecundity, and found that while the trend has certainly dropped since 1994, the lowest percent of bred does ever recorded was 69.9%.

DNR NB Fecundity Figures

On February 7th, Leblanc will take the plan before the club in Aboujagane to seek support for the plan there.

 At this point, we don’t know where the proposal will end up, but we want to see what our readers think. Do you believe the diminishing deer herd has been caused by the antlerless deer tag system? How would you feel if this plan was proposed for the zone you hunt in? Let’s hear from you!

Take a few minutes to read their proposal below, and let us know what you think over on Facebook or Twitter!  Of course, you could always contact directly via our contact links.

Editor's Note: The article has been corrected to state that it was Mr. LeBlanc rather than Mr. Cormier who once worked as a professional guide. A previous version of this story stated the opposite. We apologize for this error.

Editor's Note 2:  Since we posted this article, we have spoken to to Daniel Gautreau who is mentioned in the proposal.  He requested that we advise that he is not involved in the motion and does not support the closing of WMZ 25.

An introduction to the proposal

2017-02-06 16:43:51


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