The Tasmanian Government must end its antiquated protection of feral deer for hunters and set clear, ambitious targets to rein in exploding numbers of the pest animals under its just-released draft wild deer plan.
“Tasmania’s new deer management plan continues to support partially protecting feral deer as game animals and reinforces hunter focused policies that have seen feral deer numbers explode from a few thousand in the 1970s to a population now approaching 100,000,” Invasive Species Council deer project officer Peter Jacobs said today.
“Under this plan farmers will be hindered in their efforts by ongoing permit requirements or the need to have agreements with hunter groups simply to control deer on their own farming land.
“Most disturbingly, the plan sanctions the retention of feral deer in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Ben Lomond and Douglas-Apsley national parks and will eventually see feral deer invading Cradle Mountain.
“Tasmania’s draft deer management plan sets no biosecurity or conservation goals, targets or timeframes for reducing climbing numbers of deer, and fails on the funding front for controlling destructive feral deer.”
Generalised invasion curve for feral deer in Tasmania. Source: based on DPI 2010
The Invasive Species Council is calling for the plan to ensure that:
- There is support for Wildlife Regulations (2010) to be amended so deer are no longer considered a partly protected species.
- New deer management zones ensure the entire Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and other protected areas are deer free.
- Set and fund a target to reduce deer numbers to 10,000 by 2032.
- Remove red tape so farmers can control feral deer on their own land as they see fit.
Former Greens leader Christine Milne is an ambassador for the Invasive Species Council and played a leading role in the Australian Senate reforming the way the country responds to the ecological damage of invasive species such as feral deer.
“Tasmanian wilderness and farming land is the envy of the world but pest animals such as deer pose significant and ongoing threats and their numbers must be managed,” Ms Milne said.
“The Tasmanian Government has a duty to protect what is at the core of its clean, green brand, and that’s the wilderness values and incredible farming produce coming out of Tasmania, not feral deer.
“The Invasive Species Council released a comprehensive strategy in August this year that outlined a realistic path to tackling the problem of feral deer in Tasmania that takes into account recreational hunting.
“We suggest the Tasmanian Government take on board some of those sensible recommendations and start by removing the partly protected status of deer.”