Call for tougher deer laws

THERE are calls for more to be done to reduce the impact of wild deer on farms as well as keep some areas “deer free”.

New regulations for Tasmanian deer farmers took effect last week in an effort to minimise impacts from wild fallow deer in the state. The Nature Conservation (Deer Farming) Regulations 2022 were developed in consultation with the deer farming industry and are designed to support Tasmania’s deer farming industry and align with the Government’s Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan 2022-27.

The regulations include new arrangements for deer farmers which include a deer farm licence system aiming to improve the responsible management of farmed deer and minimise risks of deer straying into the surrounding environment. It also supports improved requirements for fencing and handling as well as providing greater measures for tagging and record keeping ensuring that escaped farm deer can be identified and traced back to their source.

Peter Jacobs of the Invasive Species Council said the greater regulations to stop escaping deer from farms were welcome. “We certainly welcome the improved surveillance, licensing and fencing in deer farms where escapes have clearly been an issue in the past,” Mr Jacobs said. “Anything done to not exacerbate the deer problem is a good thing.”

Mr Jacobs penned ‘Feral Deer Control: A Strategy for Tasmania’ for the Bob Brown Foundation and said there should still be further considerations made for future deer farms. “Our position was that new deer farms should only be established in hunting and management zones and to keep the ‘no deer’ zones entirely free of deer,” Mr Jacobs said.

“Deer have escaped deliberately or accidently from farms in the past and established satellite populations outside the hunting and management zones. “They still clearly need to be removed before they become another problem. “We need to see really effective attention in pulling in those satellite population.” Despite the changes, farmers remain concerned about the effectiveness of the deer management plan.

Cressy Farmer Roderic O’Connor is worried the final implementation of the deer management plan will be diluted. “The draft regulations and the previous minister made it clear that (hunting) permits would be available all year,” Mr O’Connor said. “But there is grave concern that the final plan will yet again water down the near unanimous support for the permanence of major reduction in deer numbers in Tasmania. “As a reference to how serious the deer problem is, every other state in Australia gives private landowners free reign to deal with their deer problem while still having recreational hunting. “Anything less than this is plainly unacceptable to farmers and the general community.”