Labor and Liberal are unashamedly promoting the fallacy that recreational hunting provides effective feral animal control in a bid to win the shooters vote at this month’s state election, the Invasive Species Council said today.
“Invasive species are one of Victoria’s top three environmental threats and cause huge economic damage, and yet the election policies announced by both parties go nowhere near solving these problems, and could in fact worsen them,” the council’s CEO John DeJose said.
“Both parties are guilty of promoting the fallacy that recreational hunting provides effective feral animal control in a bid to win the hunting vote.
“Both are guilty of failing to come up with a sensible policy to tackle one of the fastest-growing threats to Victoria’s natural environment and rural economies – surging populations of feral deer, which are creating havoc in regional areas.”
The Victorian ALP plans to increase recreational deer hunting areas on public lands by 30 per cent over four years, hoping to control deer numbers and provide improved hunting opportunities.
The Coalition has promised to set up a new organisation to represent the interests of hunters if it wins the state election, and will look at increasing the role hunters play in “controlling pest animals in national parks”.
“These policies would entrench recreational hunters within state bureaucracy, likely giving them undue influence over feral animal control. This is an obvious conflict of interest arising out of internal inconsistencies in existing policies.”
The State Government lists sambar deer as a Threatening Process under one Act but protects them for hunting under another. The government has admitted that hunting is not effective for controlling sambar and that this highly destructive feral animal is flourishing.
“The government is obliged under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act to protect native species from Threatening Processes such as exotic deer,” said Mr DeJose.
“Sacrificing native species in favour of appealing to the hunting vote in this election is the same short-term thinking that imperiled our environment in the bad old days. There can be no excuse for it now.
“To stem sambar population increases about 40 per cent of individuals must be killed every year,” Mr DeJose said.
“That sort of kill rate is far beyond the capacity of amateur recreational hunting, and depending on hunters to control sambar is likely to help deer join pigs and goats in Australia’s pest ‘Hall of Shame’ within years.”
Other states are taking real action to control feral deer numbers. Queensland has declared deer as pests and plans to eradicate them where feasible. South Australia is actively controlling deer, including by aerial shooting.
To protect our environment and agriculture, Victoria needs:
1. A feral deer management plan that includes eradicating populations where feasible.
2. Effective deer control programs with defined goals, monitoring, reporting and revision.
“Both major parties have failed to come up with credible policies to combat Victoria’s invasive species, one of the state’s most damaging and expensive problems.
“We call on the parties to craft genuine policies on invasive animal control.”
Read report online John DeJose, Invasive Species Council CEO – 0433 586 965.
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Read report online Media backgrounder: Deer threats and recreational hunting
Read report online Our work on feral deer