The Invasive Species Council is concerned that recent changes to NSW laws surrounding feral deer control could make it more difficult for farmers to control the pest animal.
For most of the state, deer hunting rules have been relaxed, but there is no relief for farmers in areas where hunting rules were already partially suspended such as the south-east, Illawarra, Upper Hunter, Northern Tablelands and Port Macquarie.
Invasive Species Council chief executive officer Andrew Cox said the government was ‘‘forcing shooters through an extra layer of red tape by insisting they get a game licence as well.’’
‘‘Controlling feral deer needs to be made easier and pressure applied to irresponsible farmers that allow feral deer to breed up.
‘‘The latest changes are a major disappointment.
‘‘Exploding deer numbers have made feral deer the state’s biggest pest problem,’’ Mr Cox said.
He said feral deer caused havoc; they ate pastures and crops and created road safety issues, were a biosecurity threat and destroyed creeks and forest.
‘‘The game status of feral deer in NSW is an anachronism and must be dropped,’’ he said.
‘‘Deer are no different to other feral animals such as pigs, foxes and goats.’’
In Victoria, deer are also considered game and all hunters of the animal must hold a deer (stalking) licence.
This year, the population is estimated to have passed one million, which triggered the Victorian Government’s release of the Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy.
The strategy aims to enhance deer management through partnerships and community collaboration; reduce the impact of deer on key environmental, agricultural, cultural and social assets; increase awareness, understanding and capacity to manage deer; and reduce illegal deer hunting.
It is also suggesting a reduction in red tape for hunters and businesses that want to process slain deer for eating.
A national Senate inquiry into the impacts of feral deer, pigs and goats held its first hearings in Melbourne on November 20.