Parks Victoria are soon to embark on another ‘trial’ of aerial deer culling in the Victorian alps.
Using licenced recreational hunters who would relish the opportunity to assist at their own expense might not be as dramatic as shooting from a chopper...but we will warrant that it will get better results with less fuss and a lot less expense. It will also mean that harvested venison gets savoured on the table rather than left to rot in the forest.
Victorian Government harvest data consistently shows that hunting with the assistance of scent trailing hounds in particular is a very efficient way of removing large numbers of deer. There are thousands of skilled and licenced hound hunters in Victoria with access to GPS tracking technology to ensure swift recovery of hounds. All at their own expense.
Calling a project a “trial” should not absolve agencies from the need to act appropriately, prudently and to be accountable. After all this is public land and public money. Aerial culling may well have a role to play in the management mix, however, it should be well down the hierarchy compared to more affordable, sustainable and ethical controls such as targeting the skills of recreational hunters.
When planning any wildlife control there are some basic questions which should be able to be easily and openly answered
- What is the impact you are trying to address?
- What monitoring is in place (how will success or failure be determined)?
- Is the proposed control the most appropriate from an animal welfare, social, economic and environmental perspective?
To ensure the confidence and support of the public for deer control it is critical that we are are well informed on why the control is happening and how it is demonstrably the best use of public resources. Given that readily available controls such as Hound Hunting haven’t even been attempted, it would seem very difficult to convincingly make the case for aerial control.