Tasmania must remove ‘wildlife’ status protecting feral deer

Media Release |

The Tasmanian Government must bring its feral deer management strategy into the 21st century by dropping deer’s partly protected ‘wildlife’ status under a review of wildlife regulations.

The deadline for submissions is 30 September 2021.

“The Tasmanian Government needs to wake up to the fact it is 2021, not 1841, and deal with the fact feral deer are out-of-control and must be dealt with as a pest animal, not some form of protected species managed purely for the pleasure of hunters,” Invasive Species Council project officer Peter Jacobs said today.

“Removing the partly protected status of feral deer will bring Tasmania’s management of these animals into line with best practice biosecurity across Australia and lay the groundwork for a wide-ranging feral deer management strategy, expected out later this year.

“The current review of Tasmania’s wildlife regulations is the perfect opportunity to remove the partly protected status of deer so land owners and land managers can get on with control unhindered by regulation and feral deer numbers can be dramatically reduced to manageable levels.”

  • Fallow deer are the only deer species in Tasmania and were introduced in 1836 as a hunting resource.
  • Deer in Tasmania are partly protected under the state’s wildlife regulations to ensure a healthy population for recreational deer hunting, but their numbers are now more than healthy, they are out of control. The population numbers about 100,000 and growing, occupying more than a quarter of the state.

Former Greens leader Christine Milne, who lives in Hobart and is an ambassador for the Invasive Species Council, says she is regularly hearing reports of deer coming closer to Hobart, with one photo of a deer near Knocklofty Reserve less than three kilometres from the city’s CBD.

“I have people telling me they have seen deer grazing on the Kingston golf course, a cyclist riding into Kingston was almost hit by a startled deer on the Channel Highway and they have even been seen in Knocklofty Reserve, a stone’s throw from the Hobart CBD,” she said.

“Drivers are reporting deer getting closer and closer to Launceston, and many residents fear it is only a matter of time before there is a serious collision on the West Tamar Highway between a motorist and a feral deer.

“Deer are moving further into the Wilderness World Heritage Area and are being seen in the Walls of Jerusalem and it is only a matter of time before they get to Cradle Mountain.

“NSW failed to get on top of exploding deer numbers and in just one area south of Sydney the result was 90 serious motor vehicle accidents between drivers and feral deer over a 13 year period, including a fatality.

“Tasmania is one of the last places in Australia to protect feral deer and while these arcane rules might have been fine while there were just a few hundred deer roaming the Midlands there are now about 100,000 feral deer in Tasmania and the need to protect them for hunting no longer passes the pub test.

“The exploding feral deer population in Tasmania is costing Tasmanians about $100 million a year and causing massive environmental damage.

“Rules that protect deer numbers in Tasmania are now redundant and just tie up farmers in extra costs and red tape.”

The Invasive Species Council released its community and science driven feral deer control strategy in August. The report is available on our website.

It is now calling on the Tasmanian Government to take this once-in-a-decade opportunity to remove the protected status of feral deer in line with every other state and territory in Australia, apart from Victoria, and begin reducing feral deer numbers to a manageable level.

Statutory review

Tasmania’s Wildlife (General) Regulations (2010) and The Wildlife (Deer Farming) Regulations 2010 are due for statutory review and as such the Tasmanian Government has released the Draft Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulations 2021 and Draft Nature Conservation (Deer Farming) Regulations 2021.

The Tasmanian Government is currently asking for public submissions to its Draft Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulations 2021 and Draft Nature Conservation (Deer Farming) Regulations 2021. They are open for comment before 30 September 2021.

The 2021 Draft Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulations 2021 indicate the Tasmanian Government is planning on continuing its policy to partly protect feral deer for hunting purposes. It is time now to challenge that outdated thinking.

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Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area and farming communities are under threat from growing numbers of feral deer.

Please sign the petition calling on the Tasmanian Government to take urgent action.