Deer should not be classified as pests

THE attack on the Victorian government’s promised Statutory Game Authority by the Invasive Species Council (Gippsland Times 17/5) deserves response.

Game hunters make up a significant and rapidly growing group in Victorian society and contribute significantly to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the state, and particularly in regional areas such as Gippsland.

Several deer species have been present in the Gippsland area since the 1860s and their populations have long been recognised as a significant hunting challenge that attracts licensed hunters from around the country, as well as from overseas.

The most notable deer species in Victoria is the Sambar, a native of Sri Lanka and the Indian sub-continent.

This animal is the primary target for Victoria’s 25,000 licensed hunters and the annual harvest of deer is in the tens of thousands.

Recreational hunters are the only effective management tool for deer and they carry out their activity at no cost to government or the community.

This situation is most unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

The notion espoused by the Invasive Species Council that somehow the declaration of deer as a “pest” species will somehow result in their extermination from the state owes nothing to the reality of the situation.

Likewise, their proposal that spotlighting would be a more effective control measure than recreational hunting ignores the fact that the majority of the deer live in dense forest where this method cannot be used, that it has serious animal welfare considerations and that it poses a real threat to public safety.

Victorian hunters support the Napthine Government’s proposal for a statutory game authority that will properly manage deer and recreational hunting into the future.

Hunters are also keen to see that deer retain their status as “game” because of the many economic, social and environmental benefits that this classification brings to the Victorian community.