The Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee has met with members and constituents regarding a series of revisions and proposals that if implemented, has the ability to positively change the way in which Tasmania’s magnificent Fallow Deer herd is managed for the benefits of hunters, landowners and the environment.
These revisions andproposalsdon't represent a fixed position or roll out schedule, but providean overview position on all or some of the changes that could be made. Some of these changes could be madeon a standalone basis, but others may require a series of changes be made as a prerequisite.
These revisions are structured into the following categories:
- Extension to the current antlerless season
- Increase the allowable harvest of antlerless deer with a recreational licence
- The implementation of a harvest logbook and electronic tagging system for harvested deer
- The development of individual ‘Deer Management Zones’
- Increase the duration of crop protection permits from an annual permit to 5 yearly with yearly returns.
- Allow greater access for recreational hunters to remove deer from public land
Extension to the current antlerless season:
The current antlerless deer season is structured in two parts, one of which takes place during the March Buck season and the other which begins in early May. The 2019 season dates are as follows:
9thMarch - 31stMarch = 23 days
11thMay - 30thJune = 51 days
The TDAC believes that the split season and the early closure date is restricting a recreational hunter’s ability to harvest all of the deer that are allocated to them at the time of purchasing a licence. The closure date becomes even more restrictive once you consider that antlerless deer are still able to be harvested under crop protection permits (CPP) until early November.
The TDAC therefore believe the recreational antlerless deer season should be more closely aligned to the CPP’s issued by the Department and propose the following dates for a continuous season:
14thMarch - 1stNovember = 237 days
Increase the harvest of antlerless deer with a recreational licence:
Recreational hunters are issued a quota of three deer per licence application. Hunters are then able to harvest 1x male deer and 2x antlerless deer or3x antlerless deer. In order for recreational hunters to remove more deer from the landscape a quota increase is required.
The TDAC proposes that the status quo remains for harvesting male deer (1 x per licence) however the number of antlerless deer allowed per licence is to be heavily increased or unlimited. This will allow hunters to easily remove deer in high population areas whilst also targeting more remote World Heritage and non-traditional areas where the deer numbers are less but their removal is critical.
It is important to note however that unless the antlerless season is extended as per Cat. 1, an increase to the quota will not be beneficial. Hunters require a larger quota and more time to fill it.
The implementation of an electronic tagging system for harvested deer
The current requirement for hunters to tag all harvested deer is critical for the operations undertaken by Tasmania’s Wildlife Rangers. It is however costly to implement, difficult to manage and cumbersome for hunters and landowners.
The TDAC understand the importance of a system that allows for traceability of harvested deer, however believe there are more modern alternatives to traditional metal and plastic tags for large amounts of harvested antlerless deer that will still deliver the same accountability for hunters, yet will also allow for extensive data collection for the various stakeholders.
For example, in 2018 there were approximately 24,500 tags issued for harvesting antlerless deer:
Crop Protection Permits = 14,500
Recreational tags @ 2 x per hunter = 10,000
The TDAC propose that an electronic tagging system (eTag) be implemented where smartphones and apps are used to track and log the harvest of antlerless deer both under recreational licences and CPP’s. This will drastically reduce the costs associated with printing and distributing traditional tags and will allow for accurate data to be collected so deer harvest numbers in specific areas can be assessed in real time.
A similar eTag system has been used by Sustainable Timbers Tasmania for many years for the tracking of harvested sawlogs during transportation. Discussions between the developers of the software and the TDAC have been undertaken and the TDAC believe there are many benefits to implementing a system such as this in order to successfully manage the Tasmanian deer herd.
While the eTag system is being developed, a simple alternative to the current tag allocation is for hunters to receive a paper logbook at the time of purchasing a Game Licence. Once a deer has been harvested, Hunters will be required to record the information such as date, time and location in their
logbook. Wildlife Rangers can request to site a hunter’s logbook during routine patrolling operations to ensure compliance and hunters can also return their harvest information to the Department at the season closure.
The development of individual ‘Deer Management Zones’
The topic of a ‘Traditional’ and ‘Non Traditional’ deer range is quoted extensively when trying to control problem deer in areas where they have rarely been sighted previously.
The TDAC believe that by establishing Deer Management Zones (DMZ) the ability to remove all deer from a certain area, whilst limiting harvest in other areas could be easily implemented. Coupling this with the introduction of an eTag system would allow hunters to target areas such as WHA’s where the harvest of all deer can be unlimited.
Increase the duration of CPP’s from an annual permit to 5 yearly
Antlerless deer could be added to the current five-year Bennett’s/Rufous wallaby and Brushtail possum permits that the Department currently issues, using the same conditions and adding the term ‘This permit is valid for the taking of antlerless deer during the antlerless season’.
The status quo would remain where permits are issued by the Department with the landowner’s nominated hunter’s names already printed on them. The Department would also issue blank permits for casual hunters that have gained access to the property, in order to reduce red tape for the landowner.
By introducing an increased or unlimited harvest for antlerless deer, (depending on DMZ) the only time a landowner would need to apply for a CPP would be if the removal of male deer from their property is required, or antlerless deer are required to be removed by utilising a spotlight at night.
As recreational hunters are also required to complete a ‘harvest return’ at the completion of the season, this data can instead be extracted from their logbook or eTag database, reducing the need for landowners to present this information at the Departments request.
These changes would also have the added benefit of meeting the State Governments objective:
“The permits will be managed with appropriate checks and balances, including the provision of returns (reporting) on the deer taken to assist in understanding population dynamics.”
Allow greater access for recreational hunters to remove deer from public land
Parks and Wildlife should investigate the opening of more Conservation Areas and Regional Reserves such as the examples listed below. An appropriate process for hunting in these reserves then needs to be established. This would assist landholders and land managers by removing ‘safe havens’ for deer adjoining their properties.
Alpha Pinnacle 275.50 ha
Apsley 456.98 ha
Badger Spur 146.95 ha
Cleveland Lagoon 75.33 ha
Devil Den 81.95 ha
Exe Rivulet 78.40 ha
Gordons Ridge 163.61
Gravelly Ridge 2293.83 ha
Harry Walker Tier 496.14 ha
Little Quoin 289.24 ha
Moss Gully 408.46 ha
Mount Bethune 352.67 ha
Royal George 269.84 ha
Spinning Gum 487.18 ha
Strickland 199.03 ha
Table Mountain 283.51 ha
Tiger Rise 133.70 ha
Tunbridge Tier 525.99 ha
Unnamed long Marsh 1538.64 ha
Unnamed Toom’s lake 1498.18 ha
Waddles Creek 413.05 ha
Wye River 427.82 ha
Total 11,313.59 ha
Avoca 933.02 ha
Castle Cary 5995.03 ha
Dog Kennels 582.95 ha
St Pauls 4394.94 ha
Total 11,905.94 ha
Total 23,219.53 ha