‘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.
The draft policy is open for comment till March 20. Have a go. [You might want to take a look at a comment by the Invasive Species Council here.]
If you sight feral deer please load that sighting onto DeerScan https://feralscan.org.au/deerscan/default.aspx or iNaturalist https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/home Both databases allow you to obscure the location from the general public however those working on the deer problem will have access to the location. As well as the website there are phone Apps for both databases.
It is important to record sightings as this is the only way that the authorities will learn how serious the deer problem is. If there is no data there will be even less chance of action being taken.