Quelling the Caneel Rumor

Image posted by Caneel Bay Resort to its Facebook page September 24
Image posted by Caneel Bay Resort to its Facebook page September 24

There’s a rumor that’s been going around the island for the past couple of days in which people are saying Caneel Bay killed dozens of deer on its property earlier this week. Well sadly, we learned the rumor is in fact true. Here’s what Caneel had to say about it:

“Since its inception Caneel Bay Resort has prided itself on the natural wildlife that roam the resort and Virgin Island National Park. Recently, many of the wild deer that reside at the resort have been stricken with malnourishment and disease that is spreading among the population. The resort sought the counsel of the USDA and they advised that culling the deer population would improve the quality of life for the deer population. Caneel Bay prides itself on its pristine natural surroundings and will continue to support the wildlife throughout the resort.”

People are also saying that the National Park Service was involved. That is not true. Here’s what Park Superintendent Brion FitzGerald had to say:

“The NPS did not kill any deer at Caneel Bay today or since I have been on the island.  Here is what I can tell you, however my information is very dated as we have not heard a word from Caneel Bay on this for many months.  Back in the spring, a number of deer at Caneel Bay became grossly infested with ticks – to the point where many had their faces completely covered with ticks and were exhibiting signs of poor health.  At one time we received a report from Caneel Bay that a deer had died pretty close to one of the guest rooms and had to be removed.  We had park staff consult with Caneel Bay and provide advice on whom they might contact to discuss a reduction in the population on the property.  We put them in touch with the USDA APHIS folks – they conduct wildlife management actions in parks and on other governmental properties all around the country.  That information was provided to them many months ago and we have not heard a word from Caneel Bay since.  We did know that they were considering a reduction but were not consulted on the when, where, how or any other aspect of it.  They do not have to consult with us on this as per their deed.”

35 thoughts on “Quelling the Caneel Rumor”

  1. This is the right way to resolve this issue. To allow the deer to become ravaged is, at the least irresponsible. It should be considered animal cruelty if Caneel DOESN’T cull the herd. Further, the lack of communication by Caneel was wise, once the decision was made, knowing the ignorant firestorm it would cause.

    • This seems like the proper course of action. The deer, which are not indigenous to the island, needed to be put out of their tick-infested misery. Moreover, most certainly no one wants an outbreak of lyme disease.

  2. Deer are not native to the Virgin Islands, and can be considered an invasive and destructive species here, similar to the lion fish that have invaded our waters. In the Rockefeller era, there would never have been any question that deer were not welcome to graze the grounds and destroy native plants and the botanical -garden class collection of tropicals from around the world.
    Due to one employee with a commendable love of animals but no knowledge of wildlife management, the populations of deer, donkeys, and mongoose at Caneel have exploded in the the past 15 years. Deer and donkey populations island -wide need to be managed at a reasonable level, and the extremely destructive mongoose should never be encouraged. Contrary to Caneel’s PR and advertising, the resort now has a contentious and often adversarial relationship with the National Park.

    • Well said, Eleanor. Thank you for that information.

      If the deer were healthy enough, I would like to see venison on the menu or available to the community. I know some people have been saying it as a joke, but it would be better not to waste the meat.

    • As a former Rockefeller-era employee, I can say today’s Caneel did the right thing with the poor deer AND that Rockefeller-era management would never have stood for anything but this course.

      Caneel has always had a contentious relationship with the Park Service because the Park Service cannot STAND that Caneel does not have to report to them!! Ha Ha.

  3. This is the correct way to keep a wildlife population in check. I am an outdoorsmen and deer hunter. If it weren’t for these tactics, the deer would die of disease and malnourishment.

  4. Thank you for sheding light on this.
    The rumor mill had it well over 60 deer already.
    It does appear that they are doing the right thing.

  5. I agree with the culling of the herd. They are not indigenous and they are very destructive. The population increase only causes more damage to the island. The tick issue is horrific. They spread them everywhere. I can no longer let my dog stay outside. The deer are in my yard and my dog is constantly getting ticks. I do wish there was a way to get the deer meat, venison is one of my favorite meats. Then the death wouldn’t be a total waste.

    • Read it, read between the lines, and it’s one of the few generally honest articles the anthropomorphosists put out. They simply opine, and do not provide evidence otherwise, that mass deer kills to eliminate problems don’t work. However, they do work. They work in the Northeast where lyme disease is rampant by eliminating one vector. HSUS just makes their claims, hug their bunnies, and solicit your $$ so the CEO can make half a million dollars or more a year. Totally irrelevant to Caneel Bay, a business operation, attempting to clean up the mess these deer, that were IMPORTED FROM THE U.S. OVER 60 YEARS AGO FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF SHOOTING, make. They do not belong in Caneel’s ecology. There’s too many of them. They’re tick infested. They disturb the hotel guests. You’re the only one, Whit, that feels the deer are more important than people.

  6. Back in 2010, my husband had a long talk with the gardening crew at Caneel about the deer. The employees said it was a big problem. I am surprised it took this long. Given the description of their condition, someone made the right decision.

    I live in PA and know all about too many deer. A couple of years back, the Game Commission changed the season to allow more hunting to cull the population. The deer I see now are far healthier looking than five years ago.

    The NPS ranger we hiked with last year said they (the Park Service) has culled donkeys over the years as well.

  7. wow. i didn’t even know there were ticks on st. john. when we come and stay at a resort, we are pampered and isolated. I often looked for, but, hadn’t seen deer until a few years ago and since then, have seen them often. sad to have to cull them, but i don’t want them to be covered with ticks, either. what is being done about ticks?

  8. Firstly, there is no Lyme disease on St John. Next where does Nickolai get off thinking he can hunt in the national park. Also all of the responses are highly suspect. All of a sudden people on St John are concerned about the deer problem. No it was caneel planting a bunch of phoney responses. this was about caneel having there flower being eaten. i think Caneel needs to go because there can’t be two sets of rules one for everyone else and the other for what ever caneel decides to do. THEY SUCK!

  9. I was at Caneel this spring . It is true the deer were horribly tick infested and looking unhealthy . I don’t think it is a fabricated story so they can kill the deer to protect their flowers . It’s the worst condition I have seen the deer in and we are there almost every year.

  10. Quell the Rumour Mill? Caneel Bay’s cryptic response, quells nothing for me. Yes, it says they culled some malnourished or tick infested deer. The rest is fluff. I want to know what steps they took to assist the deer’s health, prior to the cull. What other measures did they take, if any, for an alternative for the deer, vs. killing them? Did Caneel Bay actually have Wildlife Governmental Experts physically inspect the deer? Who there, at Caneel, made the call to cull and how many?

    I do understand there is sometimes a need to “thin the heard”; but this call is usually made by wildlife experts, when no other recourse is available to help the deer.

    Yes, deer are wild animals, yes they get ticks; but so do domestic dogs as well as people. Do we just cull dogs when they have ticks? Ticks love most animals as a host to feed on. It’s a side side of nature. Did Caneel try to eradicate the ticks? Or, just kill the host?

    So, you see, Caneel’s Response really tells me nothing, except, they saw ticks, deer looked underfed, so they maybe called someone & just killed away.

    Caneel Bay, I suppose does not to have to answer to Virgin Islanders with questions?

    St. Croix, VI

  11. I read the Humane Society article about deer populations. they emphasis that a comprehensive, non-lethal plan is the only solution. But, they don’t say what that is exactly, then they ask for donations. Not much help there.

    • This “report” seems mildly racist and not at all a product of who they claim it to be. Even still, it is a mish mash of obviously incorrect assertions…there are no good tick vectors, yet we have multiple tick borne diseases. The report also does not include deer as a species, in that they are not native, this is a reasonable conclusion.

  12. I have to agree with Brian that the “what does work” portion of the Humane Society article is inconclusive at best when suggesting a solution.
    That being said, the entire article is irrelevant to the issue in Caneel and the NP, because it was in reference to deer management in North America, where they are native.
    The VI deer issues are completely different in that they are an exotic invasive species, just as much as mongoose, wild hogs, or rats (although nicer to see). There is no natural predator, ecological, seasonal, or hunting factor to population control for these animals as there is in their native environments. In this case, I think it is a responsible action for the NPS, as well as private landowners such as Caneel Bay Resort to manage and cull populations when necessary.

  13. Hey Nikolai, want the deer to go away? STOP FU $#!ING FEEDING THEM. And if you do want to do a big cull, put it out there to the public to come get free meat. You might finally make a friend on this island. Wasting this much meat is a crime, in my opinion.

  14. Caneel Bay’s decision to kill the deer must also be examined within the context of the continuous colonial subjection of this island. We cannot simply call the deer invasive without being honest about the various ways in which Caneel Bay and the National Park Service (though the National Park was not directly involved in the killings) directly participated in the production of a particular landscape that was conducive to deer overpopulation on St. John in the first place. Very simply, both organizations disrupt residents’ abilities to engage in sustainable ecological practices– read responsible hunting, sustainable agriculture, and foraging– that would have helped to keep the number of deer on the island at a healthy level while still improving the quality of life for the local human population. Killing the deer and saying that they are non native and destructive makes deer the scapegoat for a disrupted ecological system that could very well be the outcome of human practices. Was this decision a good short term solution? Maybe. However, we also have to discuss the larger socio-political and economic context that contributed to the problem in the first place.

  15. Hotze is a blatant liar and a crappy spinmeister…..he needs to be fired and deported back to Krautland…..
    Does he really think that we’re idiots and he’s the supreme voice?
    To quote the Source, “Caneel Bay had nothing to do with any of it” according to this pathetic little man.
    Sorry Hotze, but the VI has an animal anti-cruelty law, so be prepared for law enforcement intervention and the exhumation of the slaughtered deer.
    You screwed up big time, and it is going to adversely affect the resort’s business.
    Please stop sending all of the obvious ass-covering messages…..you need to go back to your home…..
    You are the stereotypical outsider who just doesn’t get it…..
    Resign today, mass murderer!

  16. Caneel shame on you and your management. Nikolai wouldn’t it be better if u were transparent rather than hiding your unethetical actions?
    ” the greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated” .. Why not be an example of humane treatment of animals? Why not shine when our community is plagued by so many problems?
    You actually did the right thing by attempting to cure the tick problem. How do I know this? From the veterinarian office who tended to these animals. They were better and not all were affected. Why then this mass killing? And if you wanted to proceed with this culling why not advise the community and the vet???And how do we know that these animals were humanely killed? They were not euthanized they were shot. What company did you enlist and did they know what they were doing?? Why can’t you make a statement of what really happened? I was in StJohn back in April and fell in love with a deer .. And yes she was infested with ticks. I was happy to see upon my return in August that the deer was then cured. I know it was the same deer because she was tame and had a distinct mark. I should’ve contacted you then to say thank you for caring but in our busy world we fail to make contact when praise is due. For that I apologize. So… What happened next? Why order an entire heard wiped out when the treatment was working? They were in bad shape & starving? Why didn’t you let a knowledgeable professional assess the next step? I’m disappointed at your lack of regard for life. As humans we have a duty to future generations. As a leader of one of the most beautiful properties so do u. Actions have consequences. It’s not too late to say that you are sorry to a community who is watching.
    Thank you
    Dellia Holodenschi
    Founder Lucky Paws Foubdation

  17. My faimly and I were at Caneel back in April and noticed the deer looked malnourished and they were in fact covered in ticks. One was crazily rubbing its face on the ground trying to get them off, it was sad to watch. A healthy herd is a managed herd. When preditors don’t exist herds can get out of control and their health will suffer. Not to mention the flora will be severely depleted. It’s better to have fewer healthy deer than many sickly ones.

  18. I can’t understand why the park service has allowed this deer problem to persist. Deer on a Caribbean island cannot be called “natural” or “wildlife”. They are an ecological disaster, not to mention a road hazard. I hit one with a jeep in June near Maho. It hobbled off to die in the bush, probably.

    Why abide this ecological menace at the expense of St John’s unique flora and fauna? Get rid of all of them as quickly as possible.

    • Because a certain segment of society feels they are soft and fuzzy and have more rights than human beings. They also feel that Caneel should feed them, provide veterinary care and allow them to range anywhere they want on property, even to the detriment of their business.

      Of course, as Luke so brilliantly exposed, any of the responses here that are simply common sense, including the first Ms. Gibney, are simply planted by Caneel employees.

  19. This egregious Final Solution leaves us with many questions. If it was APHIS sharpshooters who massacred these deer with no public notice, I want to know what diseases they documented in this herd. I want to know if APHIS plans to kill the ticks that are now left without hosts and that can live without nourishment for a whole season, just waiting for victims. I wonder if these deer ticks could be so stressed by lack of nutrition that they themselves could then become hosts to other serious diseases not currently found in the USVI. On the mainland, these same ticks transmit to humans Babesiosis, Erlichiosis, Lyme disease..and every season the list keeps growing). The Caneel deer-killers owe us many answers which I doubt they’ve even considered.

    • Correction:
      The Daily News quotes Dr Laura Palminteri as saying the slaughtered deer were infested with American Dog Ticks. If true, this is good news. because on the mainland, only Deer Ticks carry Lyme and similar diseases which can infect human beings . But Dog Ticks can certainly transmit disease to other animals, and who knows if one day they may also infect people.

  20. The deer population went out of control when the NPS ” took out” the majority of our St John donkeys. If you leave an opening, nature will fill it. Thus, began the over population of the deer. The same happened with mongoose. NPS ” removed” as many mongoose as possible. Thus over population of the iguanas and chickens ( on every NPS beach).
    The solution, now the deer have been culled is to manage the ticks. Which falls directly onto Caneel, if they allow them to roam their property.

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