The public consultation period for the Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy has begun.

Early last week the Victorian Game Management Authority released its Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy aimed at addressing the growing problem of deer in Victoria.

According to the report, the impact of deer in Victoria is considerable, with at least 1080 species of flora and fauna benefiting from deer control. Sambar deer in the rut for example can harass cattle, damage fences, compete with livestock for food, cause damage to crops and vineyards, and spread soil and water borne disease.

The report estimates deer numbers in Victoria to be between several hundred thousand up to one million or more. Well established species in the state include Fallow, Sambar, Red and Hog. Fallow and Sambar are specifically enjoying large growth due to a number of factors.

Central to the draft strategy is the implementation of “management zones” which include prevention zones, eradication zones, containment zones, asset protection zones and finally resource management zones.

Different management methods will apply to different zones, and some of the methods for each zone could include trials relevant to hunters.

For example in resource management zones, “alternative harvesting” methods could be trialled including targeting female deer, pulse hunting, balloted approaches and archery-only areas. In the containment zones, example strategies could include targeted removal of satellite deer populations and preventing range expansions through efforts such as recreational hunting.

A key outcome of the draft strategy will be the creation of a decision making framework to decide how management zones will be decided in the first place.

Other points of note under the draft strategy include the trial of aerial shooting and the use of exclusion fencing.

Also part of the submission is the relaxing of regulation that forces park managers to apply for authorisation to manage deer on public land.

The draft strategy doesn’t propose the four problem species (Sambar, Hog, Red and Fallow) become classified as pest animals, but does put on the table a chance to review the status of Chital, Rusa, Wapiti and Sika and investigate whether or not they should be classified as pests.

Sambar Deer Population
Sambar Deer sightings and distribution in Victoria.
Fallow Deer Population
Fallow Deer sightings and distribution in Victoria.

Also under the proposed strategy, landowners unwilling to control problem deer populations themselves will be able to use commercial hunters or exclusion fences to protect certain parts of their land.

Another prong of the draft strategy will be the targeting of illegal hunters. Some of the proposed changes under this part of the strategy will be a new test for all deer hunters, reporting mechanisms to report illegal hunters and encouragement of local communities to report illegal hunters.

If you’d like to leave your thoughts about the strategy head to the Engage Victoria website and fill in the survey on the page.

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