In an adjournment speech in the Tasmanian Parliament, Greens Leader, Cassy O’Connor has gone heavy on rhetoric but has missed out on key facts.
The bizarre speech relied on statements made by Sydney based ‘think tank’, the Invasive Species Council (ISC). Despite the official sounding name, the ISC no more than a small band of ideologues with a track record of producing lots of rhetoric and few results.
Contrary to Ms. O’Connor’s hyperbolic claim that (the Tasmanian Government) “really has no idea how many fallow deer there are in Tasmania”, the Government has recently conducted the most comprehensive wild deer population survey in Australian history, with results to be released soon.
Ms. O’Connor inferred that Tasmania has no plan to manage wild deer – the reality is that the Tasmanian Parliament conducted a comprehensive review of deer management in 2017 and that Tasmanian Government has developed and funded the most comprehensive deer management plan in the Nation.
The Greens leader opined that “we must eradicate Fallow deer from the Tasmanian landscape”.
No doubt that concept in superficially attractive to many, but it is not grounded in even a basic understanding of the practical realities of wildlife management. In a paper widely accepted by land managers across Australia, it is concluded that “Regional eradication is likely to be neither feasible nor cost-effective for most species and situations, though our criteria can be used to identify some exceptions to this generalisation. Wildlife damage management should usually be based on continuing control rather than inappropriate eradication attempts.”
Ms. O’Connor gullibly repeated the false claim of her friends at the ISC that “Every other state and territory in Australia, with the exception of Victoria and Tasmania, recognises fallow deer as a pest species.”
In-fact, deer are a ‘game’ species in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. These are also the only states which collect data on the recreational harvest and hunter effort and which are in a position to educate and regulate recreational hunters. In all of these jurisdictions the harvest bag limits, if they exist at all, are incredibly liberal – Game licencing is, in essence, a means of managing hunters, not deer. The real impediments to deer management are invariably access and land tenure, not how some underlying legislation refers to them.
The Tasmanian Government has made significant changes to recreational deer management this year, extending the deer season from 15 March to 15 November and removing quota’s and tags for antlerless deer. The short ‘closed’ season that Ms O’Connor opposes is based on animal welfare concerns, covering the months when does have dependent young at foot. It is also the period (summer) when the deer are the least active and harvest efforts are typically the least productive.
Somewhat ironically, Ms O’Connor complained in August 2018 when recreational hunters were granted some limited and controlled access to assist in the management of wild deer in the World Heritage Area, pejoratively calling it a “redneck move” and claiming that it would send a “shudder down the spines of Tasmanians”.
Wild game is best managed by the entire community playing to their strengths. Tasmania’s deer hunters bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table and Quality Game Management has benefits for the Environment, for Agriculture and for hunters. Whilst Ms. O’Connor seems obsessed with identity politics, Tasmania’s deer hunters are busy working with pastoralists, Government and pragmatic environmentalists to manage wild deer on the ground.