MEDIA RELEASE 9 October 2018 |

In the lead up to the state election, all political parties must publicly commit to a policy for a significant reduction in deer numbers in Victoria, and to reduce the impacts an exploding population of deer are having on habitats and communities.

In recent years deer numbers have increased dramatically, with around one million deer of half a dozen different breeds now rampant across the state. They are seriously affecting Victoria’s finest natural areas including the Grampians, Wilsons Promontory and the Murray River’s shores, from the high country to rainforest gullies. Deer are now invading farms and communities in great numbers, even reaching Melbourne’s outer suburbs, and increasingly affecting road safety.

“Given a current population of over a million deer and high Sambar deer reproduction rates, we will need to reduce deer numbers by at least 400,000 a year if we are to get anywhere near resolving this problem,” says Phil Ingamells, spokesperson for the Victorian National Parks Association.

“The state government’s recently released draft Deer Management Strategy acknowledges the problems, but hasn’t provided realistic solutions.

“It seems to be largely aimed at protecting recreational hunting – however that experience is not remotely threatened, unlike the many important habitats being trampled and chomped by deer”.

“It is unlikely that Victoria will ever be deer free. Recreational hunting can contribute to the control solution, but will never solve the problem. We need a ramped-up range of control methods applied strategically across all land tenures.

“That will involve a fair dinkum strategy with a significant contribution from professional pest controllers, as well as the introduction of a targeted deliverable bait for deer, and research into possible biological controls.

Deer are Victoria’s cane toad, a pest species that is way out of control and poised to take over the nation, and pigs, goats and horses are not far behind.”

“The current legislation protecting deer as a game species has far outlived its use-by-date.”

The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning identified a decade ago that deer are seriously affecting 11 threatened habitat types in Victoria, and they are now known to be impacting over 1,000 individual flora and fauna species.

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