A quip often attributed to Albert Einstein (although actually coined by the novelist Rita Mae Brown, 28 years after Einstein’s death) is that:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.
This came to mind this week when we read about the Wollongong City Council’s approach to managing wild deer in and around the municipality.
Speaking at a Senate inquiry, Wollongong’s Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery outlined what any rational observer could only describe as the abject failure of the Council’s collaboration with the South East Local Land Services (LLS) on deer control.
It is understandable but not excusable that the local council could be led to believe that the fact that the LLS is a State Government Bureaucracy would mean that it has great expertise in deer management – there is however no real evidence to support such a belief and plenty to challenge it.
Mayor Bradbery’s answer to the failure of paid control is to double down on the approach of relying solely on paid cullers, with seemingly no realisation of the obvious need to re-assess their approach.
"There is a clear need for additional funding to at least match the level of the Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program partners to take the total program funding to around about $400,000 a year to provide additional culling operations and to ensure the program is sustainable."
"We estimate that that sort of level of funding is required just to keep a cap on the numbers of deer that we are confronting and the challenges that we confront in our local government area."
There are a number of options available to land managers to help to manage wild deer that don't simply involve throwing good money after bad. Recreational hunting, volunteer control programs and paid control should all be part of the mix for a sensible and prudent local government. Actions should be based on evidence and monitoring, not on ideology.
Wollongong Council know all of this because we told them. We sat with them last year, alongside internationally credentialed deer managers, and walked them through the clear alternatives. We can only conclude that Council's their slavish loyalty to ideology, and, to another inefficient bureaucracy in the LLS will continue to drain the public purse whilst doing very little to effectively manage wild deer. More's the pity.