Submission date: September 2016
Due to their rising numbers and effect on natural ecosystems, we consider deer to be the most important emerging vertebrate pest in eastern Australia.
In our submission to the Victorian Parliament’s inquiry into the control of invasive animals on crown land we point out that while the impact of different deer species varies, all deer species are exotic animals with hard hooves, browsing habits and other ecological characteristics that are not compatible with maintenance of healthy natural ecosystems in Victoria.
Policy responses to feral deer species in Victoria have been distorted by their treatment as game, instead of acknowledging their potentially serious environmental, agricultural and social costs and taking into account an understanding of the pest invasion process.
It is critical to address the ecological effects of feral deer promptly to arrest the impacts on native species ideally before those species are put in peril by deer. Done well, nature conservation is as much about avoiding impacts, as it is about reversing impacts and restoring populations of indigenous species already in decline.
We have called for deer to be listed as pest animals in Victoria, for the Game Management Authority to be abolished, and for a statewide strategy to contain and manage deer to be developed.