The Victorian Government has announced their plan to phase out native timber harvesting in state forests by 2030.
Native timber harvesting has been the primary consideration in management policy for Victoria’s state forest estate over the past century, evident in the careful maintenance of the roads built for forestry - the same network of roads that recreational hunters have relied on to access the bush since the late 1940's.
For the state’s 40,000+ recreational deer hunters, the primary concern with any change to management relates to the question of access - both legal and physical.
When the series of greater Alpine National Parks were created in Victoria during the 1970’s and 80’s hunters suffered a net loss of both forms of access, even after the intensive lobbying that followed.
While seasonal access to some national parks for deer stalking was granted, access for hounds and gun dogs was denied.
These results saw the network of quality road infrastructure that had been consistently maintained noticeably diminish as the commercial incentive to maintain access for forestry was removed.
Legal access becomes more or less irrelevant if physical access becomes impossible.
Where there is a low concentration of users recreational deer hunting is a legitimate and appropriate use of public land.
Hunters are the primary users of the Victorian Alps for the eight cooler months of year and contribute tens of millions of dollars annually to regional economies.
The Australian Deer Association will continue to monitor this issue and the detail of any announcements as it develops over the coming days, months and years and we will continue to actively advocate for access for all hunters.