Shooters support the Tasmanian Greens’ view that fallow deer should be removed from sensitive environmental areas, the head of the Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee says.
But TDAC chairman Andrew Winwood said they objected to the party’s views that wild deer should be eradicated completely and reclassified as a feral animal.
The government last week released results of an aerial survey of the state’s fallow deer population which amounted to 54,000 animals – an outcome described as “within expectations” and allowing a sustainable population.
The Bob Brown Foundation feared the deer population was “rapidly spreading west and south” through the Wilderness World Heritage Area and urged the government to adopt controlling policies now.
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Mr Winwood said no fallow deer should be permitted to roam in the state’s World Heritage Area, but he did not support their complete eradication, as advocated by the Greens.
“There is no place for them in pristine World Heritage areas, but there are pockets of the state where these deer can be,” he said.
“We don’t need to eradicate the deer completely.
“They can be managed if we are all part of a management plan.”
Mr Winwood said hunters provided a free deer control service to Tasmanian farmers, and in some cases, paid for the right to access land to recreationally hunt.
He said the group supported the government’s decision to develop a game management plan and hoped the plan factored in property-based game management.
Mr Winwood said a recent survey of 248 farmers by the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association rated five species above deer as the most pressing pest problem in the state.
‘Deer population is expanding with unprecedented speed’
Bob Brown said inaction was causing environmental degradation, and Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett needed to act faster.
“The fact that Barnett is only now making public his aerial surveys from nearly a year ago, says everything about the government’s failure to treat this damaging infestation seriously,” he said.
“The deer are moving much faster than this minister is thinking.”
Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said acknowledgement the deer population was sustainable allowed them to continue to breed in huge numbers and damage crops and wildness areas.
She said Mr Barnett needed to remove protections on fallow deer so they could be recognised as a feral animal.
Barnett wants to ‘get the balance right’
Having released the survey of fallow deer numbers, Mr Barnett said attention would now turn to developing a five-year deer management plan.
He could not state when measures to control deer numbers would begin, however.
“We already have some measures in place through the careful management of recreational deer hunting in Tasmania,” Mr Barnett said.
“We’ve got to get the balance right to preserve and protect traditional deer hunting as a way of life in Tasmania.
“It’s something that provides opportunity for about 5000-plus deer hunters to enjoy and provide for their families and secondly getting the balance right, so that we can manage deer across – not just private land – but also our natural environment, our national estate and our national parks.”
The survey found wild fallow deer numbers had increased 5.4 per cent from 2006 to 2019. It covered 19,905-square-kilometres in Tasmania’s central and north-east regions.