Data released this week shows that recreational hunters killed around 120,000 wild deer in Victoria last year and a further 40,000 wild deer in New South Wales.
Recreational deer hunting also contributes billions of dollars to the Australian economy and provides recreation, wild food and healthy activity to around 100,000 deer hunters nationwide.
As public land managers grapple with noisy campaigns about wild deer and a consequential political pressure to take visible action; we are seeing an increasing trend towards expensive, unmonitored and mostly futile shoot to waste culling operations using paid contractors.
There are places for paid contractors in deer control, but, all control should meet some basic standards, particularly where a public resource and public money is involved. The basic criteria include:
- Justify the need for control
- Have clear and achievable outcomebased objectives
- Ensure animal welfare
- Consider community values and scientific information, include long term systematic management, and base control on specifics of the situation.
Commercial harvest of wild deer has had a ‘boom and bust’ history in New Zealand and is marginal at best as a broad-scale control prospect for Australia.
Deer numbers in much of Australia are increasing and will continue to do so for some time (populations cannot continue to increase indefinitely, at some point carrying capacity will be exceeded and the population will suffer a decline).
Interest in recreational deer hunting is also growing and we have no reason to believe that it will not continue to do so – the major limiting factor is access.
It is not defendable for public land managers to continue to dismiss the role of recreational deer hunters in deer management.
We are the most significant factor in reducing deer numbers in Australia by an order of magnitude – and we are willing to spend our own money and time doing it.
We see deer in a different way and apply different values to them than some other stakeholders….so what?
We have clear common goals to get more deer dead – why we want to do that or how we got there is irrelevant – all that should matter is that we act safely, humanely and sustainably and that we target our efforts to achieve a bit of broader good along the way.
The blockers in Government Departments and Environment NGO’s need to park their ideology, drop their prejudices, deal in facts and work with us to get better results for the environment, for agriculture and for the broader community.