The new Victorian Deer Control Strategy released today is an important policy reset, but fails to deliver much-needed on-ground control of surging feral deer populations.
“The Victorian Government has clearly listened to the outcry from farmers and conservation managers about the growing impacts of millions of sambar, fallow, red and hog deer,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said.
“This new control strategy is an important policy change for how feral deer are managed in Victoria and accepts the failures of a hunter-focused past by taking a new approach to reduce the impacts of destructive deer.
“An earlier draft released two years ago was strong on promoting hunting and weak on deer control.
“The release of this new strategy means Victoria finally has a pest control strategy rather than a deer protection strategy.”
The earlier strategy was overhauled after strong public feedback revealed huge levels of community concern about the growing destructive impacts deer are having on the environment and farmers.
“The Invasive Species Council welcomes the Victorian Government’s initial $1 million investment targeting Melbourne’s northern and eastern suburbs, but there also needs to be a focused, on-ground effort on other priority areas and to remove isolated populations across the state,” Mr Cox said.
“There is a real sense of fear in the Victorian community that deer are taking over bushland, raiding farms and gardens and becoming serious dangers on our roads, but this strategy fails to reflect those community fears and lacks a sense of urgency.
“If the Victorian Government is serious about reducing the feral deer threat to our environment and farming and urban communities it must remove the protection of deer under the state’s Wildlife Act and declare feral deer a pest species.
“The government must remove restrictions on controlling hog deer on private property and it should require landholders to cooperate with broadly supported local eradication programs – it only takes one landholder harbouring deer to undermine efforts of their neighbours working to reduce deer numbers.
“The new strategy also needs to be improved by integrating regional deer plans with the work of the catchment management authorities and existing pest management programs.”
The Invasive Species Council is calling on the Victorian Government to bring its deer management strategy into line with the rest of mainland Australia by removing all barriers to deer control.