Thirty years ago if you sat down at a campfire and had someone tell you what the deer scene would be like today you would have commented: “Maaaate, what are you putting in those rollies you are smoking.” The deer scene now is nothing like it was back then.
This is due to the increasing abundance and distribution of Australia’s various wild deer populations. In some areas it has reached the point where instances of overabundance of deer are now an issue requiring active, co-ordinated intervention and broadscale ongoing management.
Who would have dreamed 30 years ago that government and land management agencies would have ADA hunters in Parks and Reserves on urban fringes in Melbourne or iconic parks such as the Wilson Prom, let alone be engaging paid shooters, using helicopters and even considering the development and use of poisons?
As an association and as individual hunters we can either denigrate and criticise much of what currently passes for deer management and its associated policies in Australia, or we can choose to work proactively alongside landowners, land managers, State, regional and local government and other stakeholders to improve the situation for the common good.
The ADA has always preferred the latter path and we are taking steps forward in this area. The ADA Deer Management Initiative (DMI) is a national initiative that we are developing through which we will aim to contribute to improving the deer management situation in Australia. At the same time, it will facilitate our members involvement in deer management programs across Australia.
There are ongoing deer management programs that ADA is involved with in most states in Australia. As an association we have to thank the members who have unselfishly given their time for developing systems and have been managing programs for the last decade or more.
The ADA is now looking at developing a national system that will deliver training and accreditation in the skills required to undertake these deer management programs anywhere in Australia where the ADA is engaged by landowners or land managers to manage deer. It is being developed on the systems and experience built up in Victoria in the past 20 years or so — we have a lot to thank people such as Life Member Bob Gough and deer management stalwarts Steve Garlick and Tom Zamanis for, regarding where we are at today.
Expressions of interest to be involved in deer management programs were called for last year and we now have members from every state who have stepped up and made themselves available to be part of the ADA Deer Management Special Interest Group and assist with managing and advising on issues at their local, regional and state level.
We are now going through the process of refining the ADA’s policy for deer management and how the DMI and deer management programs will fit into our vision and the strategic plan we are working to. Behind the scenes, members are currently working on an information booklet for the DMI, as well as the course work, documentation and accreditation for the deer management programs that will provide a professional basis for delivery of the programs. Importantly it will also address the risks involved in managing and participating in these programs. Bob Gough has done a mountain of work in this area, as well as working with land managers such as Parks Victoria and getting members involved in Northern Victoria and Southern NSW.
Our aim is not only to be at the coal face managing deer, we are looking at establishing an Expert Advisery Panel and facilitating an independent annual review of the “State of Deer Management in Australia” to help guide us in continuous improvement of our programs and provide good, sound, independent advice on contemporary deer management issues for government, game and wildlife managers and land managers in Australia.
The success of this initiative and its programs will be built on the work of members who are willing to put in and undertake roles supporting the program. We will be looking for people to help, not only in the shooting/hunting programs, but administration support, training and accreditation, data collation and even App development for recording data on programs (if you are an App developer and willing to assist, Deer Management Director Brian Boyle wants to talk to you!). So, keep an eye out in this magazine, on our website and also in the email news updates the association sends out, keep up to date — and when the time comes, get involved!