Below is a letter written by local Rosalie Counsell in response to the Draft Deer Management Plan. It is split in two sections; A) preamble, and B) specific response to the plan.
We live on a 24 hectare property in Harkaway, in the peri urban foothills to the Dandenong Ranges. It has several heavily vegetated gullies that run down to the belt of bushland that follows the Cardinia Creek.
Over the past decade, Sambar and Fallow deer have become an increasing problem. They use these wildlife corridors as cover for their own movements, and are continually breaking down fences, damaging young trees (including ones we’ve planted) and encroaching on our pasture. As a result of their growing numbers (we’ve seen herds of twenty and thirty), we now struggle to run a dozen steers on the place.
We have a couple of hunters who come when they can, but the occasional kill they achieve is a drop in the ocean, and serves only to make the herds more canny. While ignoring us as we shout and wave our arms at them, when they spy a hunter, they vacate to the only one of our three adjoining properties where they seem to know they are safe.
We, and our neighbours, are starting to despair. The deer numbers – Fallow and Sambar – are mushrooming. As well as destroying our treasured bush environment, they are invading our gardens, gradually moving further and further from the creek area and presenting an increasing hazard on our roads. It is only a matter of time before a vehicle will hit one, and a collision with a Sambar could easily kill someone.
We believe that management of the deer populations in the peri urban areas is critical. Urbanisation is going to make normal control measures increasingly difficult to implement, yet it is here that their adverse impacts will be most visible. Once someone is killed as a result of a collision with a deer, or their numbers cause even more significant issues for the catchment areas, and/or they start encroaching on semi-urban gardens, the problem could escalate to nightmare proportions.
We believe that the main problem with this draft strategy is that it starts and ends with the wrong emphasis – namely that deer are recognised as a valuable hunting resource.
The fact that deer may have become a valuable resource to the hunting fraternity should not blind us to the fact that they are a large, destructive introduced species that are posing a major, expanding threat to a wide range of community assets and values across the state. No invasive exotic species released deliberately or accidentally into the wild should be protected by law.
The control of feral deer is too overwhelming a problem for ad hoc, individual measures. Sporadic guerrilla-type skirmishes on the periphery will achieve nothing and serve only to discourage all concerned.
What we are facing here is an invasion. It needs to be handled with the same principles of military planning, co-ordination and determination as would apply to fighting a war. And as with any invasion, the sooner and more decisively we respond the better. The enemy is already at our gates.
29 October 2018
B) Specific responses to the draft strategy
Our position can be summed up as follows: