The current media attention on wild deer management in New South Wales is being couched as a genuine effort to assist struggling farmers. A worthy aim, but, the very real danger is that the opponents of public land hunting are using, what are in many cases very genuine problems with overabundant wild deer (and other wildlife), to further their anti public-land hunting agenda. Anyone who has taken an interest in the politics of hunting in New South Wales over the past decade will not be at all surprised by this.
The main thrust of the stories at the moment relate to the administration of hunting on private land.
The Australian Deer Association is advocating strongly for policy around the management of wild deer to be based on facts, data and evidence – not to be based on populist or opportunistic politics.
We have made representations to Minister Adam Marshall and to the Deputy Premier on this matter and we are asking members who value the current opportunities that they have in New South Wales to get in touch with their local Members of Parliament and let them know that the current media circus is missing all of the complexity of the management of wild deer.
The most effective thing any individual constituent can do is make an appointment and visit their local MP’s (or their advisors).
Only a very small percentage of the community actually takes the time to visit their MP. Consequently, MP’s take issues far more seriously when they do have a visit.
You should let the MP's know that you have concerns about:
The lack of consultation with stakeholders
There are issues with overabundant wild deer in areas of New South Wales.
We are concerned that eminently qualified stakeholders in the management of wild deer have been overlooked and not consulted with this proposal.
The Game and Pest Management Advisory Board provide expert knowledge in agriculture, vertebrate pest management and wildlife management and should be valuable resource in game and pest animal management in NSW.
Inconsistent government policy with stated outcomes
Wild deer, like all other wildlife, need to be managed for overabundance. This management needs to be tenure blind.
Many of the deer causing issues for farmers in New South Wales take refuge on crown land. Recreational hunters are excluded from vast tracts of public land like National Parks. It is within the power and interests of the New South Wales Government to address this obvious anomaly for the benefit of primary producers.
Simply put, and ironically overlooked, if it is good enough for licensed gun owners to operate on private land to manage deer, it should be good enough for experienced and qualified recreational hunters to operate on public land.
Factual inaccuracies in briefings to media
Wild deer have existed in the Wollongong area for 113 years. They have existed with numbers increasing and decreasing according to whichever classification they are labelled with.
Any suspension of regulations will ultimately do nothing demonstrable to assist drought-stressed landowners. Where deer are overabundant they still need to find someone to control them and the existence of a relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain licence (General License) has not been the limiting factor in that.
What a suspension of regulations will do is take the oversight and responsibility of ensuring that hunters are humane, knowledgeable, safe and insured away from government (where it belongs) without removing the obligation and accountability to the public.
Concerns about animal welfare
We urge the New South Wales Government to put some minimum requirements in place for the control of wild deer on private land as the Victorian government has done. This includes minimum calibers to ensure that animal welfare concerns are addressed and that the changes do not exacerbate issues with illegal hunting.
If you do get a meeting take some time to do some reading and preparation and remember that we are asking people for support. Dress tidily, do not make any threats (they know that you vote) and consider leaving them with a one-page summary of your thoughts and concerns.
You might also consider sending us an email report after the meeting so that we can follow up on any issues when we are in Parliament House.
To find your local Members of Parliament use the tools on the NSW Parliament Website
If you have Upper House MP’s living in or visiting your area, particularly National Party MP’s, you should consider making an appointment with them too.
If you cannot get to visit your MP’s we would urge you to write to them, using the points above as a guide.
There are some 'urban myths' that MP’s have to reply to handwritten or posted letters – they do not.
They tend to be more responsive to local constituents than people from outside of their electorates however and, regardless of whether or not they reply, your emails and letters are read and are used as a gauge of the level of ‘feeling’ in the electorate.
The importance of this should not be underestimated.