The future of Australian game animals has been given a boost with the publication of a new manual on deer management that shows how deer and the environment can be conserved.
The Ecological Deer Management Manual also shifts deer management in NSW towards a US-style system, where the Quality Deer Management program was implemented to maintain healthy white-tail deer populations as a resource.
Management of wild deer herds is vital to protecting both the game and the Australian bush, and hunters play one of the most important roles, according to the EDM manual.
Produced by the NSW Game Council, the manual was co-authored by the coucnil’s research and development manager, Dr Andrew Moriarty, and wildlife researcher Annette Brown, who both have extensive hands-on and academic experience.
The Game Council describes its EDM system as ‘novel’ and a change from other systems. EDM is intended to be used on a local scale and is flexible enough to be adjusted to suit individual circumstances.
In many ways, it is a compromise between the philosophies of hunting and pest eradication.
“Changing from a traditional hunting and pest animal approach to EDM requires a major change in philosophy and values,” the manual states.
“EDM may cost the Conservation Hunter a good opportunity, as they must leave young male deer and focus on the harvest of female deer to reduce deer herd densities. However the benefits of such sacrifice may far outweigh these costs in the form of more natural age structures, sex ratios and healthy habitats.
“EDM also requires the conservationist to reconsider the place of deer in Australia’s ecosystem and acknowledge that eradication is not feasible, nor desirable, considering the benefits to conservation that hunting can provide.
“EDM requires land managers and Conservation Hunters to be better stewards of deer as a resource and improves hunter ethics while presenting a positive image to non-hunters.”
Intended primarily for the Game Council’s home state and the game system established there, the manual is thorough and broad enough to be employed throughout Australia.
“It is a resource and a tool – it has a collection of simple technical information, procedures and policies you will need to manage deer on your property, land or study area,” say the authors.
As well as instruction on the basics of management such as estimating deer numbers and assessing their impact on the environment, the EDM manual provides advice on how to establish a management cooperative and forming a property-based management plan that landholders and hunters can work to.
Download a copy from the Game Council website. The council produced this video (below) to provide an overview of its EDM.