Poison, Aerial Culls and Professional Hunters - Open NSW Park Hunting
Photo: The Graf Boys
Every six months Ted Rowley, owner of a 327ha cattle property that borders Kosciuszko National Park, is used in an article to promote the destruction of deer in some form. The beef farmer is on a mission to change the perception of deer as a "cute game species" and warned others to root them out before they become entrenched.
The latest article from Farmonline mentions the future use of poison and that the deer pose biosecurity risks to push this point. Outdoorsmen and hunters worldwide strongly oppose the use of poisons and, in some cases, their follow-on effects.
These same articles often have anti recreational hunting undertones like "Intense and sustained ground shooting has failed completely to control deer populations here - they continue to grow exponentially', and when offering his solution, feral deer control methods should include baiting, use of attractants, aerial culling, trapping, barrier and exclusion fencing, commercial utilisation and ground culling technology.
There is no mention of recreational hunting, even though last time I checked, they kill many deer.
However the articles always skim over the fact that the deer are pouring out of the bordering Kosciuszko National Park where hunters have no access to control and harvest deer.
What Ted does on his own property is entirely up to him, however it has to be recgonised that using recreational hunters in conjunction with other expensive taxpayer-funded control methods in National Parks is effective. NSW State Forests hunting is ongoing evidence of this.
Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox said in the past four years, another five per cent of NSW had been occupied by deer.
He had a stark warning for farmers: "Deer are coming your way, we need to get serious".
"Those that haven't got them yet are unaware of what's in store," Mr Cox said.
"There's a mixed perception of them. Farmers where they are just arriving in a few numbers say 'oh that's cute' and don't think twice.
"People like Ted, where deer are in the hundreds or thousands, are very aware. They've suffered greatly economically and
wish they did more before they arrived."
"Regular hunters aren't going to work because they like large numbers and by then it's too late," he said.
Mr Rowley said deer were "really clever", which was one of the reasons they were so difficult to root out once entrenched.
"When we first started, we were shooting at a hundred metres with a spotlight. But I was out this morning, I saw 40 to 50 deer. I couldn't shoot any of them because they were all in full flight.
"Now we have to use thermal telescopic sights and shoot at 300 to 400 metres."
Although the commercial hunter helps keep the numbers down, the only thing that creates a significant impact is helicopter culling - and with most deer living in dense forest, even that has its limitations.
"That's why we need greater research in to how we can use baits for deer without hurting any non-target species," Mr Rowley said.
"The minute we can do that, we're going to apply for 1080 or other appropriate toxin."
Let's hope that recreational hunters can play a hand in controlling deer in the NSW National Parks. The areas these deer are living see very little to no human traffic. The Victorian recreational hunting system works with all user groups; however, NSW feels that their parks are different.