NEWS 4 October 2018 |

Victoria’s draft deer management strategy has been released for public comment.

VNPA will provide a detailed assessment of the draft on this website soon. In the meantime, however, these are some issues we have identified.

While the draft clearly outlines the many problems deer are causing in Victoria, it fails to identify workable solutions.

The draft acknowledges that the population of deer in the state could be a million or more, and that they are currently significantly impacting over 1,000 native species. Deer are also having considerable impacts on agriculture, causing road accidents, and invading suburban areas.

However the draft appears to be largely framed around protecting the hunting experience, even though that experience is not remotely in danger.

Among the issues inadequately addressed in the draft:

  • It talks about protecting key ecological assets, but doesn’t define them. This is odd, as our key ecological assets are largely already well defined: National and State Parks, for example, as well as listed threatened species and ecological communities.
  • The strategy does promise to remove existing red tape for park managers trying to deal with deer, but doesn’t identify any increase in resources for managers. (Some welcome resources have recently been allocated to park managers for specific actions on deer, but not for reducing the overall population, which drives the pressures on parks.)
  • The main challenge the strategy adopts is “… containing deer to their current geographic range, where feasible.” Given that deer are already occupying most of the state, and are particularly abundant in half of the state, that is a very weak ambition.
  • It notes the $142 million claimed to be the benefit of deer hunting to the economy, but makes no mention of the far higher cost of deer impacts: on the environment (including rehabilitation), on water catchments, on farms and road accidents.
  • Most importantly, the draft sets no target for reducing overall deer numbers in the state. With a possible population of a million deer, and growing fast, we estimate that more than 400,000 deer a year would be necessary to just keep the population stable. A much larger target of around 500,000 a year is needed to reduce the population. The strategy does suggest encouraging a pet food industry around deer harvesting, but that can’t operate in remote areas. The continued operations of recreational hunters will also help, but will never solve the problem. We need to build a well-resourced professional pest animal control industry in the state, and seriously invest in the development of other controls, such as a targeted bait for deer.

The draft strategy is open for public comment until October 29 2018. VNPA will outline a considered detailed response to the strategy soon. The draft can be found at:

The final strategy will not be finalised before the November state election. Such urgent and growing problem deserves clear, effective policy and resources to match the problem from all political parties.

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