Australia generally has a very poor track record in game management, either by gov- ernments, organisations or by individuals. Unfortunately the Australian way has been to class wildlife either as vermin to be eradicated or as sacred native wildlife to be looked at but not interfered with in any way. A very small number of native species including some wallabies, ducks and quail have fallen in between these extremes (at least they did until Animal Liberation started to manipulate public perceptions).
Many hunters have responded to the vermin/sacred wildlife situation by judging their success based solely on the number of animals killed—the more the better, and often with little regard for the ethics or legalities of hunting. Following on from this has come the attitude that when numbers of a species are doing well, it should be exploited to the full, but when populations are low due to disease or drought or some other reason, you simply take up fishing or target another species or another area.
Unfortunately, these attitudes have meant that the possibility of managing wildlife populations so that booms and busts are avoided and so that the maximum community benefit is obtained from the resource has been largely ignored. It is long overdue that Australian hunters accept the challenge and become game managers themselves and encourage wildlife authorities to support them in their efforts. There is a long way to go, as it could be argued that perhaps the only Australian deer herds that come close to being properly managed are the fallow deer of South Australia and Tasmania and the hog deer population on Sunday Island in Victoria.
It is probably inevitable that deer will be ‘managed’ by all state wildlife authorities in future, but the big question at this time of booming herds and rapidly increasing deer distribution is whether they will be managed as game or managed as vermin as is the usual Australian way. ADA believes that it is essential that deer are managed as game!