Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Primary Industries spokesperson
Minister Barnett is failing farmers and the environment. In declaring the feral deer population as ‘sustainable’, he is allowing them to breed in huge numbers, damage fencing, crops and wilderness areas unchecked.
This destruction is official government policy.
The Minister’s survey only took into account the so-called ‘traditional range’ of fallow deer. While this is a misnomer in itself, as a feral species has no ‘traditional range’, the survey ignored two thirds of the state.
54,000 deer were found in the area surveyed. That survey didn’t include the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
When giving evidence under oath to the 2017 Legislative Council inquiry, DPIPWE officials estimated the feral deer population as likely closer to 100,000.
Fallow deer are not ‘wild deer’. They are feral animals, a pest species to farmers and in the natural environment that should be treated as such.
Instead, feral deer are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 and more government resources are dedicated to sustaining a deer population for shooters than in threatened species protection.
In 2016, the TFGA estimated the annual cost of feral deer to farmers at $25 million. UTAS research warns, under current government policy, the deer population could reach one million by mid-century.
Feral deer are destroying farmland and infrastructure, as well as wilderness values in our protected areas. They are also a public safety risk on our roads. Farmers have long sought changes to the deer shooting season to enable them to better manage this pest species year round.
Mr Barnett must act to remove protections feral deer have under the same Tasmanian law that covers threatened and endangered species. Anything less is an insult to the primary producers he purports to represent