NSW should declare feral deer pests

MEDIA RELEASE – 22 January 2015

The Greens NSW agriculture spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today announced the Greens policy on feral deer, saying that the next Parliament should stop protecting deer as a hunting resource and instead declare feral deer a pest species and develop a state-wide control and eradication strategy.

“Feral deer are the most significant emerging pest animal threat in NSW, causing major ecological and agricultural impacts, and the Greens want them to be declared a pest in line with feral pigs, rabbits, locusts, wild dogs and foxes,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“In 2012, under pressure from the Shooters and Fishers Party, the NSW government passed special regulations related to deer hunting which deliberately hampered feral deer control and eradication efforts at the expense of agriculture and the environment.  These changes included the imposition of bag limits, a deer season, the prohibition of hunting at night and bans on shooting from a vehicle or with a spotlight.

“The Government has backed the Shooters and Fishers Party in their desire to keep our forests stocked full of targets regardless of the environmental or agricultural cost.  The Greens do not want to see our state become a private game park.

“Feral deer are a serious agricultural pest as they consume and damage crops and stock feed, compete with livestock, damage fences and lead to an increase in the population of wild dogs.  They are also a biosecurity nightmare as they spread weeds and pathogens such as foot and mouth disease,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The environmental damage feral deer cause has led to their recognition as a key threatening process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act as they cause serious damage to native plant species and ecological communities, primarily by browsing, grazing and antler rubbing.

“Currently we do not even know with any certainty what the numbers and extent of feral deer are in NSW, and as a priority a state-wide census of deer numbers should be conducted.

“Instead of the current ad hoc and ineffective amateur hunting regime in NSW, the Greens support the development of professional deer control and eradication programs to protect the environment and agriculture,” Mr Buckingham said.

NSW Greens policy initiative

Declare feral deer a pest species

Impacts of Deer

  • The NSW OEH recognises feral deer as the most important emerging pest animal threat in NSW.
  • Feral deer have been recognised as a KEY THREATENING PROCESS in Schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act and have significant ecological and agricultural impacts including:
    • causing serious damage to native plant species and ecological communities, primarily by browsing/grazing and antler rubbing;
    • altering the structure and composition of vegetation communities;
    • facilitating access for introduced predators by creating paths in dense vegetation;
    • maintaining elevated populations of wild dogs (which feed on carcases dumped by hunters);
    • spreading weeds;
    • potentially spreading pathogens affecting agriculture (such as foot and mouth disease) and human health (including Leptospirosis and Cryptosporidium);
    • consuming and damaging agricultural and horticultural crops and stock feed (silage/hay), competing with livestock, damaging fences and killing and injuring livestock.
  • The environmental degradation caused by deer are increasingly a nuisance in urban areas, damaging gardens and causing road accidents.

Current situation

  • Feral deer are mainly found in coastal NSW, especially in the South-East, but numbers are increasing and populations are rapidly spreading. Increases have occurred due to escapes and deliberate releases from deer farms, expansions of acclimatisation herds and deliberate translocation by hunters.
  • There is currently ad hoc recreational hunting in NSW state forests where there are no defined objectives, no assessment of whether ground shooting is an effective and appropriate method for the purpose, no integration with other programs, no quality control and no monitoring.
  • The NSW Government refuses to declare deer a pest and instead passed regulations to proactively protect deer as a game animal. Deer are a declared pest in Qld and SA.
  • In a concession to the Shooters and Fishers Party, the NSW Government passed special hunting regulations which protect deer and hinder eradication and control efforts. Unlike for other pest species such as cats, pigs, dogs, goats, and rabbits, deer hunters are required to possess game hunting licences and there are various restrictions such as bag limits, seasons, spotlighting bans and a prohibition on hunting from a vehicle.
  • There is no coordinated state wide-strategy in NSW

What the Greens want:

  1. Declare deer feral pests
  • The minister should make a pest control order under section 130 of the Local Land Services Act 2013, similar to those which exist for feral pigs, rabbits, locusts, wild dogs and foxes.
  1. Stop Protecting Deer as a hunting resource
  • Remove requirement for a game hunting license on private land by removing listing of deer as a game animal under the Game And Feral Animal Control Act 2002 – Schedule 3. This brings license requirements in to line with feral pests such as cats, pigs, dogs, goats, rabbits etc. (license only required on public land)
  • Get rid of deer hunting season and bag limits
  • Allow hunting at night and the use of spotlights
  • Get rid of bans on aerial or vehicular shooting
  1. Develop a state-wide control and eradication strategy
  • Conduct a state wide census of deer numbers
  • Develop well-planned control and eradication programs to protect the environment and agriculture with clear goals and professional execution
  • Coordination between public and private landowners
  • Ensure ongoing monitoring

deer map

4 comments

  • Assuming that the driving forces behind the push for re-classification of deer is not to undermine the position of hunting per se, let’s look more that deer have a commodity $ value, wild deer should be seen as a resource to control them, as foxes used to be. Fox numbers have exploded in this country, not from lack of effort from farmers and resource stretched DPI, but because of the anti-fur campaigns blanket approach and success. In the 1980’s at $20-$40 per skin, you could not only make enough money shooting foxes to buy a car, but I knew blokes who bought their 1st house doing so. Result, foxes were controlled without legislation or use of public purse.
    If the Greens are genuinely the party of the enlightened, then champion incentive, distant yourselves from laws of control & punishment.
    Use “the Carrot not the Stick”, Help us the people be better citizens, Stop trying to make us better citizens.

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  • peter den hartog

    Greens have an ajenda, get the land holder onside, get more votes in next election, then introduce bills to ban all facets of hunting and fishing, don”t be fooled,greens policies are made with emotional thoughts not scientific based facts that can be supported by impartial researchers. Yes there are areas that have problems with deer, but let the DP I and the land owners determine whether they are a pest or an ac
    scett, some landowners supliment their income by letting reponsible hunters to take deer .Greens are grate demenstrators, sometimes irresponsible and illegal, they are not responsible representatives of the public as a hole.
    Remember, vote greens will create unemployment and lock up regulations, very Un Ausralian!!

    Peter.
    Regional NSW

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  • So you the greens have the interest of animals at heart yet want to ERADICATE them? Deer aren’t a predatory animal and yes they do damage but also raise millions of dollars through hunting permits which goes back into the community. As they have a value and are used as a meat source wouldn’t it be more beneficial to manage their populations rather than ‘ERADICATE’. You guys claim you’re all for the animals yet want to wipe out the ones you don’t like. I’m a hunter and I love deer, I like eating deer and watching them in the bush. Eradicating this beautiful animal is a waste of a few species and will severely impact the $700 million raised through licensing last year via the NSW dpi for hunting licenses.

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  • If the government were to adopt a policy of education regarding our wild deer and in fact most of our wild game as a source of organic free range unadulterated meat and sought the assistance of the hunting and farming community to promote hunting in Australia they in a short time would remedy the expanding feral population problem. Not only would they curtail the growing numbers of introduced animals but indeed would capitalise on it by charging licence fees et cetera. As we speak there is a growing industry within the farming community providing accommodation and hunting opportunities as a second source of income whilst at the same time reducing the introduced animal burden that farmers now have to carry. The hunting industry per se is a multibillion dollar industry worldwide and Australia is well overdue in capitalising on this. As previously pointed out the fox and feral cat problem was exacerbated by the fact that the anti-fur lobby denounced fox and feral cat hunting and made it politically incorrect to wear their skins even though millions of foxes and cats were removed from the environment and stopped from doing untold environmental damage. Once again this attitude is a typical case of Green ideology competing with reality. The government should adopt a mature and educated philosophy based on fact rather than ideology and actively promote conservation hunting not only a healthy recreation and tradition but as an environmental tool as well. Clyde Thomas

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