08/27/2014 07:41 EDT | Updated 10/27/2014 05:59 EDT

PETA takes aim at Kennebecasis deer hunting pilot project

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking aim at a pilot project in New Brunswick's Kennebecasis Valley that will see hunters targeting more urban deer.

Under the project, 200 hunting permits will be earmarked for private properties in the Kennebecasis area, north of Saint John. Most will require hunting with a bow.

Hampton, Quispamsis and Rothesay are all set to undertake the pilot project, and PETA members by the thousands have voiced their displeasure with town councils.

Quispamsis Mayor Murray Driscoll has received hundreds of emails, but the impact has been minimal.

"They were all the same content, they were no different," he says. "They just had different names on the address."

Several hundred more were sent to his councillors, and the same goes for Hampton and Rothesay.

"I think that we've always looked at the emails," Driscoll says. "But when you have a mass email like that and it's just a common letter it doesn't have the same impact as somebody who attends a council meeting and has an individual letter showing their personal concern."

PETA sent an email alert to nearly 60,000 Canadian members asking them to voice concerns over the new hunting program in the area. The call to action prompted more than 6,000 people to swamp members of the three town councils with emails.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, there are about 88,000 deer in the province heading into this fall's hunting season. In the Kennebecasis Valley region, it’s about 10 deer per square kilometre. In the Fredericton area, it's one deer per square kilometre. Many residents say it’s a problem.

Bob Doucet is both a Hampton town councillor and chair of the Kennebecasis Deer Committee representing the three municipalities. He understands the concerns, but says he has confidence in New Brunswick hunters.

"So when you concentrate some bow hunters into this area, it's all concerned with safety, and that's where DNR comes into play, and that's what we are concerned with is — the safety of it. And that's why when the biologist and the rangers and stuff get involved, it would be done as safe as possible."

IT department had to spam-block emails

Stephanie Bell, PETA's director of cruelty casework, says the bow-hunting plan is cruel.

"We’d like to weigh in and set the record straight in regards of bow hunting being one of the cruellest forms of hunting," she says.

Bell says PETA gave members the opportunity to use the template email, or send their own. 

The email campaign was so overwhelming that Quispamsis had its IT department spam-block the incoming letters.

Bell says she's disappointed the emails were silenced, rather than considered.