Changes to the administration of state forests in Victoria will deliver around 360,000ha of access for deer hunters from early 2020.
We have received written confirmation that, from 1 March 2020, the permission of a grazing licensee will not be required for hunting with a firearm within grazing licences in state forests in eastern Victoria.
This resolves an issue which has been a source of contention since May 2000.
We came close to reaching a resolution with government and other stakeholders back in 2004 but ultimately that did not eventuate.
For the past two years or so we have worked along with the Victorian Hound Hunters Inc. and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Vic) to see this issue resolved and hunter access returned.
In mid 2017 the Australian Deer Association began actively advocating on this issue when the land managers took a harder line and sought to formally exclude hunters from significant areas of state forest in Victoria’s East.
In August 2017 we presented a paper to the Victorian government on this issue.
In November 2017 we commissioned independent, expert advice which clearly showed that the previous advice that land managers had been basing decisions on was unsound.
In October 2018 we (along with our colleagues at SSAA Vic) lobbied for, and received, a written election commitment from Labor to resolve this issue.
In February 2019 we presented an issues paper to members of the new Victorian parliament, putting resolution of this matter as a key priority.
This change will provide clear legal access for hunters to around 360,000ha (just shy of one million acres in the old money).
These changes will be a challenge to some cattle grazers - the various hunting organisations (ADA, SSAA, VHH) have all committed to working with the Mountain Cattlemen's Association of Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation to ensure that all bush users can continue to go about their lawful use in harmony with each other.
These outcomes don’t just happen – they take considerable time and resources from our advocacy team - that all costs money.