Valley’s role in national feral deer action plan

By JOHN ANDREWARTHA
DERWENT Valley residents are being urged to play a key role in addressing the problems associated with wild deer in the region. A strategy is being developed by the National Feral Deer Action Plan Working Group, with representatives from governments, non-government organisations, researchers, shooting sectors, farmers and conservationists.

The plan will use social media to increase people’s awareness of the harm wild deer cause as they spread further into and around communities. The development of the plan is part of a National Deer Management Co-ordinator project that is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

National Deer Management Co-ordinator Annelise Wiebkin said the strategy would be a national plan involving the disseminating of messages through social media to raise public awareness about the impact deer have on communities, farms, the environment and road safety.

Dr Wiebkin said the campaign “Cute But Costing Us Deerly” would also encourage the community to report deer sightings through the online app DeerScan. “Deer populations have spread across more of the Derwent Valley in recent years and greater numbers have appeared in and around the New Norfolk, Magra and Lachlan areas,” she said. “Experts have concurred that these populations are the result of deer historically escaping from deer farms or being released into the wild illegally, as well as by natural spread.”

Dr Wiebkin said the plan’s initial awareness campaign would focus on nine regions throughout Australia between March and May, and New Norfolk and the Derwent Valley area had been selected following the program being successfully piloted in four regions throughout Australia last October.

The Tasmanian Government released its Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan last year, which divided the state into three zones. The largest zone (zone three) covers most of the state and aims to be a “no-deer zone”, while zone one recognises that deer hunting has occurred in that area for many years, and that that will continue into the future.

Zone two is a buffer zone between zones one and three to allow some flexibility. The broad aim is to reduce deer populations in the buffer area. The Derwent Valley falls within zone three and the buffer zone. Dr Wiebkin said deer in these areas posed significant risks to public safety due to the potential for property damage, injury and death from vehicle collisions, and the illegal and unsafe use of firearms by poachers.

“They can also cause damage to private and public infrastructure,” she said. “Deer can flourish in these environments and they are very difficult and expensive to control once they are established there.” Dr Wiebkin said high densities often meant there was a higher likelihood of negative interactions between deer and people, particularly with stags during their mating seasons.

“These sorts of populations are undesirable and need to be managed through prioritised, co-ordinated eradication and containment programs. The National Feral Deer Action Plan is part of that process.”

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