Last week we received a letter outlining the new South Australian deer policy.
The Australian Deer Association has been involved in consultation during the drafting of this policy where we put forward a sound, evidence-based case for the management of wild deer to recognise and utilise recreational hunters, on both public and private land.
There are a number of private properties in South Australia where wild deer are managed effectively and sustainably by recreational hunters, to the benefit of both the landholder and the hunters.
The Stock Journal in South Australia reported on the strategy recently and it would seem that the policy has won few friends across the spectrum of views on wild deer.
Keith beef producer James Darling, an ardent critic of recreational hunters and of the Australian Deer Association, described the policy as a “waste of an opportunity to make effective and lasting improvement”.
Mr Darling was particularly scathing of the legal requirement for landowners to control wild deer “I regard it as highly offensive that landowners adversely impacted by feral deer have a legal obligation to control them when the legal obligations to tag and to confine deer have not been met”.
Lucindale livestock producer and notable ADA member Patrick Ross also rued the missed opportunities and pointed out the failure of logic in the policy, “private landholders will deal with deer, just like rabbits and foxes, control them to a level that is economically prudent and achievable”.
Patrick was also critical of South Australia’s un-strategic and largely unmonitored aerial deer control regime which has cost more than $2.5m over the past decade with negligible outcomes whilst recreational hunters are excluded from public land. “Is this money well spent leaving carcasses to rot in the bush?” he asked.
This new policy places onerous responsibilities on landholders but provides no government funding or other resourcing and does not acknowledge the responsibility of government to manage public land.
Perhaps the biggest indictment is that it will almost certainly achieve nothing. South Australians deserve better than that.