The Tasmanian government must develop a comprehensive feral deer management strategy that reduces the destructive impacts of deer and protects the environment and farmers from the growing impacts of the pest animal.
“Calls to commercialise feral deer meat are not a silver bullet to Tasmania’s feral deer problem and distract from the real issues facing the state caused by increasing and uncontrolled numbers of feral deer,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.
“Commercial use of deer will provide an added incentive not to reduce deer numbers. We saw this when rabbit control was commercialised in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and we are seeing it on the mainland with feral goat control.
“Limited available control options and legislation that protects deer in Tasmania as a resource for hunters is also hampering containment and control.”
Deer are probably Australia’s worse emerging pest animal problem, causing damage to the natural environment and agriculture.
“In Tasmania fallow deer are rapidly spreading with no effective plan,” Mr Cox said.
“We are calling on the Tasmanian Government to develop a comprehensive deer management strategy that reduces the destructive impacts of feral deer on farms and protects the state’s unique environmental values from this growing pest problem.
“A Tasmanian deer management strategy should have clear actions to protect the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area from the growing encroachment of deer into this precious global treasure, accompanied by funding for professional ground and aerial shooters.
“Tasmania also needs to fall into line with every other state in Australia except for Victoria and manage deer as a pest species, not as a special resource for hunters at the cost of the natural environment and farming.
“Such a declaration won’t limit recreational hunting, but clarify that feral deer need to be managed to limit their impacts.
“The Tasmanian Government should also release the full findings of its recent feral deer census as soon as possible.
“We urgently need this data to see where deer are spreading to and where the government needs to focus containment efforts.”
Impacts of deer on the environment
Greening Australia estimates that 30 per cent of its $6 million budget for the Midlands Restoration Program was spent on deer proof fencing, deer damage costs, deer control and mitigation from deer rubbing and ring-barking trees and deer monitoring.
The federal government has identified that feral deer have major impacts on the natural environment:
- Destroying native vegetation.
- Trampling plants, grazing, and ring-barking young trees.
- Fouling waterholes.
- Causing soil erosion.
- Spreading weeds.
- Increasing potential for transmitting diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.
Impacts of deer on agriculture
- Loss of primary production from deer browsing.
- Damage to infrastructure.
- Human damage caused by poachers and illegal access.