03/14/2013 10:17 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick to allow white-tailed deer farms after promising to close them

FREDERICTON - The farming of white-tailed deer will be allowed in New Brunswick following a review of the operations in other provinces, the province's natural resources minister announced Thursday.

The position marks a change for the government, which promised last year to shut down white-tailed deer farms after one of the animals kept in captivity killed a 55-year-old man in Saint Leonard, N.B.

At the time, Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said the death of Donald Dube — who was attacked in October 2011 while feeding his domesticated herd — cast a light on the problem of illegal deer farms.

But Northrup later launched a review and now says the government has decided that regulated white-tailed deer farming can be practiced safely.

"After listening to New Brunswickers and studying the regulatory systems across the country, we have concluded that white-tailed deer farming can be carried out in a safe manner in our province,” Northrup said in a statement.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec allow white-tailed deer farming.

Under the new rules, New Brunswickers will be able to get a permit to raise the animals for their own use or for sale outside New Brunswick.

They will also be allowed to import captive-bred white-tailed deer for breeding.

Deer farmers will have to comply with rules on fencing standards and identification of the animals in order to obtain a permit.

"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.

Biologists have warned that captive white-tailed deer can pose a risk to local wildlife and human health because of disease.

New Brunswick will maintain its prohibition against pen hunting and farmers won't be allowed to sell white-tailed deer meat or other products within the province.