A report released today by the Game Management Authority shows another sharp increase in hunters in Victoria taking up a game licence to hunt deer.
Contrary to misconceptions; game licencing is a means of managing hunters, not game. Licencing enables data collection, education and compliance efforts around regulation. Practical impediments to overabundant deer management typically relate to land tenure, not legal status.
Victorian deer hunter licence numbers have increased by whopping 460% since June 1996 – a rate of growth about five times that of the general population. Deer hunting is Australia’s fastest growing outdoor recreation activity.
There are large opportunities for regional communities to benefit from the growth in deer hunting coming out of COVID-19 restrictions as tourism from outside of Australasia remains off the menu for the foreseeable future. Deer hunting is a significant economic driver in many regional towns, can be targeted to realise ecological benefits and evidence shows that hunters experience a higher level of wellbeing than non-hunters, and that's before we get into the benefits of clean, free range game food. True “triple bottom line” benefits, in a camo wrapper.
A recent survey conducted by the Australian Deer Association revealed that Australian deer hunters are two and a half times more likely to travel to Victoria to hunt than to any other State. The message in this for the Victorian Government is clear – hunting delivers significantly for the State, particularly in regional communities which have suffered the double whammy of the summer bushfires and COVID-19.
The message for other States is also clear – opening up public land drives significant community benefits with negligible downsides. Give hunters an opportunity and they will come out in droves.