‘In 1980, there were an estimated 50,000 feral deer in Australia. By 2002, the estimate had grown to 200,000. In 2022, the population is likely to have reached 1–2 million in Australia.’
That’s from the recently released draft National Feral Deer Action Plan. You can find it here
If ever there was an illustration of the rule, ‘Tackle a problem early, don’t let it get out of hand’, those figures supply it.
Exploding deer populations have been compared to the rabbit plagues of the past. They destroy crops, turn healthy streams into mud heaps, and are increasingly dangerous in peri urban areas:
‘Australia’s feral deer problem costs land managers and governments tens of millions of dollars every year. Land managers are paying more each year for measures to protect the land, through activities such as deer culling or exclusion fences. Transport departments are also increasing culling and fencing along highways and railways to reduce vehicle collisions with feral deer. Local governments are struggling to cull feral deer in urban and periurban areas, gardens and ovals.’
The draft strategy offers a number of approaches to deer control. It doesn’t discuss recreational hunting, but does say that this method of ‘control’ has failed. Further, it makes the point that ‘Landscape-scale management of feral deer can be hampered when neighbours have different, or conflicting management goals (game management or pest control).’
In other words, giving deer protected species status as game animals is an actual impediment to control. This puts a bullet, so to speak, into the Victorian Government’s incomprehensible policy of pandering to the hunting lobby on the deer problem. [You can check out our comments on this subject here, here and here]
FOBIF members sighted deer on the Porcupine Ridge Road last week: they’re increasingly common, and have been sighted in every corner of our region.