Hunters Need More Access To NSW National Parks

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Deer are the flavour of the month with many news articles talking of explosions and populations doubling but not a single scientifically backed peice of material to support the claims.

There is no doubt when deer numbers increase they need controlling just like kangaroos, pigs and wild dogs.

No media outlet seems to tackle the real problem, and this is hunter access. The National Parks of Australia have turned into breeding grounds. However, hunters are still not allowed in. Victorians have been controlling deer numbers for years in National Parks with no incident yet NSW refuses to follow suit.

The Land recently released an article that highlights the need for Kosciuszko National Park in the Monaro to be opened to hunters.

Instead of tackling the main problem faced by the farmers. National Parks is tiptoeing around the issue by helping fund fences and electrical skirting of fences on several properties, spending upwards of $200,000 with one property owner.

Nearby, woolgrower Bill Brewin, Marranumbla, said he didn’t want to say the problem with wild dog attacks was gone, but the fencing was “a breakthrough”.

“We’ve put a three wire electrical skirt on our fence,” he said. He’d spent $5000 on a legal opinion to determine that National Parks had a legal duty to stop wild dog intrusions from the park onto private grazing land.

A local trapper working in the park was also making good inroads into wild dog numbers.

Meanwhile, near Jindabyne, the Westons are putting up a high deer fence to keep their cattle property from being over-run by fallow deer. 

The Westons have been inundated by deer, with an estimated lost production of nearly $100,000 a year from cattle competing with deer for anything in the paddock from pasture to salt-blocks and hay on the ground.

He also shoots deer on the property. To give an indication of how quickly the deer problem has grown - in 2016 he shot 300 deer, in 2017 he shot 500 deer and this year he’s shot 900 deer. Also a deer harvester has taken 2500 deer in seven months in the locality - all taken to a chiller in Cooma.

The Westons are upset that other “drop-in” property owners are not doing enough to control the deer. They have had to reduce stocking rates, and are now down to 400 head of cattle. One 81 hectare block of improved pasture was covered in deer scats, and now because the paddock was eaten out by deer, they could only run 15 cattle instead of 50.

Then the anti-hunting sentiments begin. Hunters did little to stem deer numbers, as they often just wanted a few stag trophies and left, often causing problems on the farm, such as having to drag their vehicles out of bogs. “Hunters don’t touch the deer problem at all,” Mr Weston said.

Clearly, Mr Weston does not hand out hunting access readily if this is his only experience. I find it hard to believe that he's really given this avenue a true run judging by his comments.

The Westons will be working with Local Land Services, National Parks and a Sydney University PhD researcher on deer population monitoring. Aerial culling of the deer is also being considered. With the fawning season about to start, the Westons are expecting another flood of deer. The Snowy Mountains is one of four major deer hotspots in the state. The Northern Tablelands is also experiencing a surge in feral deer numbers.

At Snowy Smash Repairs at Jindabyne, almost 90 per cent of repairs come from motorists hitting wildlife – and deer are making up more and more of the work. Deer were only a small part of the crash repair work two years ago, but now they make up 20 per cent of the work, the rest is kangaroos.

“If you hit a deer it’s like hitting a small horse,” the repair shop owner said. “They can cause thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage.”

“And the mistake many people make is that they don’t keep a straight line when they see a deer and try to swerve and that can only make them roll their car.” On the precipitous Alpine Way, swerving to avoid a deer can have tragic and fatal consequences.

Meanwhile, Victoria has allowed increased access for hunters in national parks.

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