7 June 2020
A news report on 7News in Victoria last night aired a lot of well-worn tropes, but did nothing to advance the conversation about managing overabundant wild deer.
The leading contention of the news anchor, that declaring deer a “feral pest” would mean “that numbers can be culled”, along with being grammatically appalling, betrayed the lack of research and understanding behind the report. Our understanding is that this report was knocked together weeks ago and has been held over as “filler” until last night.
Wild deer (other than hog deer) are unprotected on private land in Victoria. Game status is a means of managing hunters, not deer.
Hunting by over 40,000 game license holders on public land in Victoria enables the harvest of over 100,000 wild deer every year. It also contributes over $140million a year to the Victorian economy and supports over 1,100 full time jobs.
A video shown in the news report, of red deer in a closed Melbourne Water managed catchment, did highlight the failure of strategy and management by government land managers – the fact that the same areas have an overabundance of native macropods, seemed to escape the reporters. They also failed to mention that these areas are closed to hunters.
Notably, the news report included a statement from the Victorian Government that “declaring deer a feral pest would put too many obligations on landowners without solving the problem”. The Australian Deer Association understands that internal debate within government over this point has been the major cause of the unacceptable delay in the release of the Victorian Deer Management Strategy.
The Australian Deer Association has led the hunter response to the draft strategy – at all times being open, conciliatory and attuned to the need for the final strategy to be workable, pragmatic and to add value to all stakeholders. Sadly, one stakeholder group has taken a belligerent and ideological approach to the issues, leading to a pointless delay in action.
We look forward to working with Government and the community on finalising the strategy and advancing deer management in Victoria.