29 July, 2020
The Bairnsdale Advertiser in East Gippsland is today reporting on continued illegal deer hunting around the Dargo area.
The paper outlines two serious illegal hunting issues confronting Castleburn farmer, Emile Theodore who said that "It's really difficult to explain what would inspire someone to come up here, shoot an animal at night then take nothing but the head".
He said that he had been woken at least three times a week after which it had become 'normal' to find a carcass with a missing head. "Thermal scopes have become popular with poachers so we're not seeing spotlights being shone off the road like we once were, which allows these guys to slip under the radar".
Mr Theodore has raised his family on game meat and is a regular deer hunter himself.
Another issue highlighted was illegal hound hunting on private property. "The problem characters will brazenly trespass to shoot the deer and retrieve their dogs" Mr Theodore said. "If that means they need to cut locks or push through gates in the process, they'll do it. There aren't many landowners around here that don't have a story like that and the really sad thing is it's only as small percentage tarnishing everyone else's reputation".
Mr Theodore called for an increased police presence and stiffer penalties for offenders. "Throw the book at them. Take their vehicles and equipment and cancel their firearms licences. Hit them with the full suite of firearms offences as well as trespass and biosecurity offences".
Mr Theodore was supported in his calls by Waterford based farmer, butcher and hunter, Damien Ellis. "As a local community we've tried to build a relationship with hunters" Mr Ellis said. Mr Ellis re-iterated that most hunters were good and did the right thing "It's the ones who aren't that cause the trouble for everyone else".
The Australian Deer Association has committed to working with the Dargo community, and regulators to address and highlight the issue. "For all of us who value our time in regional communities, our relationships with locals and the great experiences of hunting and using the spoils, this sort of behaviour is bitterly disappointing" Australian Deer Association Victorian co-ordinator Col Brumley said. "We urge any hunters who see or have information of these illegal activities to stand up for our future and inform the authorities. The standard that we walk past is the standard that we accept".