Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Primary Industries spokesperson
Any move by Minister Barnett to commercialise the use of deer meat must have eradication of feral deer from the landscape as its goal. Anything less is an insult to the primary producers he represents.
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.
Fallow deer in Tasmania 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.
The national Invasive Species Council has publicly expressed concern that commercial hunting of deer for meat provides an incentive to sustain a population, for profit.
We recognise this idea has some support in the farming community but urge the Minister to have great caution in proceeding down this path as a long term option for deer management.
Farmers have long sought changes to the deer shooting season to enable them to better manage this pest species year round.
Is the Minister looking at all the options, or is he part of the problem that allows feral deer to breed in numbers, damage fencing, crops and wilderness areas as official government policy?
As a first step, Mr Barnett should act to remove protections feral deer have under the same Tasmanian law that covers threatened and endangered species.