06/05/2012 12:55 EDT | Updated 08/05/2012 05:12 EDT

New Brunswick suspends closure of illegal deer farms pending review

FREDERICTON - A deadline to close illegal deer farms in New Brunswick has been lifted by the provincial government pending a review of the operations.

In January, three months after a white-tailed deer in captivity killed a 55-year-old man, the government ordered the farms to shut down by June 15.

But Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup says that deadline has been suspended as it studies any risks and benefits associated with the farming of white-tailed deer.

"Government has listened to all sides and has decided we need to better understand all the facts associated with the raising of white-tailed deer in captivity," Northrup said in a statement Tuesday.

"We have asked staff to review the regulatory processes in place in other jurisdictions that allow white-tailed deer to be raised in captivity."

Donald Dube died in Saint-Leonard, N.B., last October while feeding his domesticated deer after the dominant buck in the herd attacked him with its antlers and hoofs. Provincial game wardens later killed the buck and the other 10 deer at the family's request.

Permits are available in New Brunswick to keep some non-native deer species, such as elk, fallow deer and red deer, in captivity for agricultural purposes.

Biologists warn captive white-tailed deer pose a risk to native wildlife, human health and public safety because of disease.