Most of the aerial control of deer in Australia is likely a pointless waste of money.
Aerial control can be an extremely effective and efficient tool to manage wildlife populations. In order for control to be effective it must be targeted at addressing a particular impact, it must be predicated on a clear understanding of the density-impact relationship and it must involve rigorous monitoring to ensure that impacts are being addressed. Most of the aerial control in Australia, paid for by taxpayers, lacks any of the basic underpinnings to determine success or failure.
Reporting tends to be on made up measures like deer shot per hour or percentage of deer seen that were shot. From a management perspective that’s more or less meaningless…it’s little more than media spin.
It’s a real problem because it soaks up so much resource and attention which could be better directed.
Most of the environmental lobbyists who talk about wild deer don’t know what they’re talking about…and they don’t care.
This is not the ecologists and biologists we're talking about, it's the lobby groups who are constantly on the hunt for funding. If they’re not lying, they are certainly willfully ignorant of the facts.
We consistently hear jingles like
- “Hunters only take male deer” – we don’t – the data consistently shows a bias in the harvest towards females.
- “Declaring deer a pest will aid their management” – it wouldn’t – game status is a means of managing hunters, not deer. There are no control measures that a change of status would enable which aren’t available now.
- “Deer will populate the entire continent” they won’t. Populations will continue to grow and expand without sensible management, but there are areas (lots of them) where the habitat will never be suitable to sustain deer populations.
The people spreading these myths have been corrected, several times. So either they don’t know what they’re talking about, or, they don’t care because they are driving another agenda. Either way, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
It doesn’t matter how many deer there are in Australia.
It’s impacts that matter.
The impacts of most of the deer in the Australian landscape are benign. The impacts of some of the deer in the Australian landscape are detrimental and unsustainable.
Until policy makers move beyond the superficial talk about numbers and focus on impacts, improvements in the situation will be glacial.
Some hunters are dickheads.
Sad but true.
The worst bit about some of what our detractors say about us that there is a kernel of truth there. It’s a small number, but their impact on our social licence cannot be underestimated.
Some hunters are dickheads. They do stupid things that give us all a bad name. We cannot defend them.
Deer are cool.
The alarmism and the knockers miss this simple point.
We really like deer, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be objective about their impacts.
Deer are really cool – humans have been fascinated with deer since our earliest encounters, deer have featured in art since we first scrawled on the walls of caves. There is an intrinsic and charismatic value to wild deer which bites into our psyche.
They're cool - and we don't apologise for thinking so.