SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — New Brunswick wildlife officials on Wednesday shot and killed a herd of 11 deer that had been kept by a man in northern New Brunswick who died Sunday after being attacked by one of the animals.
An autopsy showed that Donald Dube, 55, died of multiple internal injuries, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Marc Violette said Wednesday. The victim had been trampled by an eight-point buck and stabbed with its antlers. Violette estimates that the deer weighed between 200 and 250 pounds.
The incident occurred when Dube went to feed the herd, which he kept in an enclosure behind his home off Route 17 between Saint-Leonard and Saint-Quentin. Violette said the animals appeared to be white-tailed deer.
Anne Bull, a spokeswoman for New Brunswick’s Department of Natural Resources, said the deer were euthanized at the family’s request. The province allows certain species to be kept in captivity for meat or hunting purposes — elk, red deer and fallow deer — but not white-tailed deer.
“In New Brunswick, you can’t keep wildlife without authorization of the minister,” Bull said. “It is prohibited under the [provincial] Fish & Wildlife Act.”
Violette said officers called to the scene on Sunday night said it looked as if the victim and the deer had been in a struggle. He was missing a boot and sock when found.
“It looked like a situation where the victim was attacked and then the animal kept on top of him,” Violette said.
Attacks by deer are extremely rare, but when they do occur most often it is during the fall mating season.
“No doubt about it, the deer [involved in the attack] was in rut,” Violette said.
In New Brunswick, the hunting season for white-tailed deer begins in late October and continues through late November.
Married for 36 years, Dube and his wife, Mona, were to celebrate their anniversary on Oct. 25. The couple has three grown children — twin sons named Justin and Jason and a daughter named Chantal — and four grandchildren.
On Wednesday, the family was huddled together and consoled one another.
“The family is all together and all upset,” said the victim’s brother Antoine, who lives in Saint-Leonard. “Donald was a good guy who tried very hard to do the right things.
“I don’t know what to say.”
The circumstances surrounding Dube’s death were so unusual that it has attracted attention from media outlets as far away as Africa. In recent years, a man in Georgia who kept exotic animals died when he was gored by a red deer, and a man in California was killed after stumbling across a deer while going to pick tomatoes in his garden. In British Columbia last summer, a man delivering newspapers was slightly injured when he was knocked down and stomped on by a doe.
“A buck is a very strong animal and they can become more aggressive when they are in rut, but I find it extremely unusual,” said Gerry Parker, an author and former wildlife officer in New Brunswick. “If it happened out in the wild, I would find that highly suspicious.
“But in a pen, in confined quarters, strange things could happen.”
Mark Drew, a farmer in New Limerick, Maine, who raises 1,000 deer a year primarily for breeding purposes, said he heard about the attack in New Brunswick for the first time on Wednesday.
“When the rut comes in, you have to keep an eye on the males,” he said. “They almost look at you like a rival.”
Marty Klinkenberg is the senior writer of the Telegraph-Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.