Deer Numbers Causing Concern for Councils - Still No Hunting Allowed

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There have been several articles in the past week calling for Government funding to control deer numbers. None of the articles recognised recreational hunters as control method as they call for obscene amounts of money to be thrown at reducing numbers.

NSW Shadow Treasurer, Ryan Park has called on the government to increase funding by $400,000 to address the "out of control rampant wild deer population in the Illawarra".

It was previously stated that deer numbers increased by 60 per cent between 2009 and 2016 but this number has never been validated by any scientific studies or papers.  

MP calls for urgent action on wild deer running rampant in Illawarra

The Illawarra Mercury reported the Keira MP wants urgent bipartisan action to address the "current crisis" and has written to newly appointed Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall to request a meeting to discuss options.

Mr Park says the problem requires an immediate bipartisan approach to inject funding for more culling programs by Wollongong City Council and Local Land Services.

He said the meagre assistance provided by the Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program was no longer sufficient.

"Feral deer create havoc in the Illawarra. They damage property and the natural environment, cause collisions on the road and on train lines. It is only a matter of time before there is a serious collision on our roads," Mr Park said.

"I am calling on the new Minister to meet with me and listen to the experience we are having here in the Illawarra.

"We need a commitment from the government to increase funding for more deer culling programs in the Illawarra. The problem of wild deer is out of control. People in the Illawarra are running out of patience."

Mr Park's calls come only a week after Figtree residents captured on video a herd of deer galloping through Jacaranda Avenue.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said deer caused car crashes, near misses and were eroding the escarpment.

"We have a deer problem," he said. "Wollongong City Council contributes a little less than $100,000 to cull the deer but the program needs half a million dollars just to keep a cap on the feral deer population."

In a seperate article the Age reported wild deer are plaguing one of Victoria’s best-loved wine regions, costing vineyards hundreds of thousands of dollars and destroying native plant species.

Mr D’Anna said the Hoddles Creek Estate, where he is general manager, had been losing about $200,000 a year, which included lost sales because of damage caused by deer.

The business has had to spend at least $150,000 for fencing on the property to keep them from attacking the grape vines.

Mr D’Anna spoke to The Age about the deer problem several years ago but said it had since become much worse.

Some recreational deer hunters were also posing a safety threat, he said.

“They’re driving around at night with spotlights and shooting into front paddocks.”

Victorian National Parks Association spokesman Phil Ingamels said deer were also causing widespread damage to the natural environment across the state.

“They are known to eat almost every species of native plant,” he said. “They’re a herbivore beyond comparison.”

Mr Ingamels said the problem required a more “professional and strategic approach”, including the use of highly-skilled and qualified hunters.

He said deer also wallowed in wetlands, turning them into “an absolute mess”.

Victoria is home to four species, including the sambar, fallow, red and hog deer.

Private landowners are permitted to shoot deer on their properties if they have a firearms licence and any other required approvals.

A spokesman for the Department of Environment said a deer management strategy was being developed to set a “coordinated and strategic approach” to dealing with the animals.

He said Parks Victoria ran a deer-control program in areas across the Yarra Valley in partnership with the Australian Deer Association and the Sporting Shooters Association.

Australian Deer Association national president David Voss said recreational hunters were a crucial part of reducing the harm caused by deer.

The association says it is committed to maintaining deer at a sustainable level rather than eradicating them altogether.

“Eradication is an unachievable objective,” he said. “If the land is favourable to deer they’re just going to keep coming back.”

But Mr Voss said he shared concerns about some recreational shooters firing at deer from roads into private properties.

“Legitimate shooters see those guys as scum,” he said. “In our association if anyone is accused of that and found guilty they’re expelled.”

The area's that these deer have co-existed is shrinking daily. This shrinkage is causing far more visibility than has ever been seen in the past. 

The paid deer culling programs are expensive and inefficient for the numbers that they are trying to achieve. Giving recreational hunters access to problem areas has proven to heavily reduce numbers and deer impact. 

The control of deer numbers should be evaluated on a case by case basis with recreational hunters looked at as a proven control method. 

 

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