The Australian Deer Association (ADA) has slammed the newly released National Feral Deer Action Plan as a “propaganda piece” developed without consultation with recreational hunters.
“The plan quickly suggests deer cost the economy $91 million a year but deliberately omits that recreational hunting contributes close to $500 million annually whilst supporting thousands of jobs,” the ADA said in a statement on its website.
“The plan also made further attempts to minimise the impact of recreational hunting, despite scientific evidence demonstrating that recreational hunting has significantly reduced population growth in Tasmania to 5% and in parts of Victoria to 15%,” it stated.
The action plan was compiled by a working group consisting of various state and territory government agencies, the Invasive Species Council, the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, the Vertebrate Pest Management Association and the SSAA.
SSAA was represented by the coordinator of its Farmer Assist program, Matt Godson, a wildlife biologist. Sporting Shooter has contacted him for comment.
The ADA statement said recreational hunters “made the most submissions [during the consultation period], and reflect the largest stakeholders in the room, and … harvest the greatest number of wild deer from the landscape”.
The ADA has separately highlighted the fact that in 2022 there were more than 50,000 licensed deer hunters in Victoria, who that year killed 155,042 deer, the second-highest figure since counting began in 2009.
The action plan’s authors state it was “developed to establish a national coordinated approach to actively suppress Australian feral deer populations”.
It excludes any consideration for managing deer as a hunting resource and states “recreational hunting has little impact on population growth”.
Instead, it sets out ways to stop the spread of deer in Australia, control or eradicate isolated populations of them, and protect significant areas from the impact of deer.
It does, however, mention there are “opportunities for recreational hunters and sporting shooters to support feral deer control programs as a component of ground culling” under specific conditions.
The plan calls for the development of poisons for use on deer, pointing out that Australia does not currently have one.
Implementation of the plan over the next five years will be coordinated by a committee representing agriculture, environment, all levels of government, First Nations and pest controllers.
Its effectiveness will be dictated by a number of factors including active participation from the stakeholders, available budgets etc.