Call for feral deer action

By Country News

Calls for more action on feral deer have been endorsed, with more than 90 Landcare organisations, leading ecologists and agricultural groups signing an open letter calling for a management strategy.

The open letter was sent to Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes and Water Minister Lisa Neville last week.

Victorian National Parks Association’s Phil Ingamells called for deer to no longer be listed as a protected game species, labelling them a ‘‘highly invasive pest animal’’.

‘‘Deer are now seriously affecting every natural area and habitat type in Victoria, including within our finest national parks. Their extensive use of bogs and wetlands affects water quality and quantity in our catchments,’’ he said.

‘‘Deer are also a serious pest on our farms, especially orchards and vineyards, and an increasing risk on our roads.’’

The letter asks for a significant ramp up in control measures, including serious investment in professional pest management programs.

‘‘There are around one million deer in Victoria, and that population will be increasing at the rate of around 30 per cent each year. This is a situation that has to be addressed as a matter of urgency, with a highly strategic, professional approach. It cannot be controlled by ad hoc recreational hunting,’’ Mr Ingamells said.

The Victorian Government released a draft deer management strategy last year, which the group labelled as inadequate and short on detail, saying it largely relied on recreational hunting to solve the problem.

The Invasive Species Council made a submission to a Senate inquiry into the impact of feral deer, pigs and goats late last year, calling for strong action across the country.

The group called for a threat abatement plan for feral deer that prioritised the prevention of further spread of all species of feral deer and the development of effective control methods.