Move to put wild deer on the menu

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

TAS­MA­NIAN deer farm­ers say al­low­ing wild har­vested deer to be sold for hu­man con­sump­tion could threaten their in­dus­try.

The com­ments come in re­sponse to a State Gov­ern­ment man­age­ment strat­egy which will gauge the po­ten­tial of hunting the species for com­mer­cial gain.

Mole Creek farmer Michael Frydrych is one con­cerned pre­mium veni­son pro­ducer.

Mr Frydrych and wife Con­nie run about 600 deer for value-added prod­ucts for lo­cal restau­rants and for re­tail.

He said while deer farm­ers un­der­stood the need to con­trol deer num­bers, wild-shot deer sold for hu­man con­sump­tion was not the an­swer.

He said any is­sues with food safety or qual­ity had the po­ten­tial to de­stroy the lo­cal in­dus­try’s rep­u­ta­tion as a pre­mium pro­ducer of veni­son.

“We un­der­stand that the num­bers have to be con­trolled, but this is not the way to do it.

“Ev­ery­thing is get­ting stricter, but some­how now we’ve de­cided al­low­ing guys to go out in the bush at night and shoot deer and process them on the back of utes is OK. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Mr Frydrych said it would be al­most impossible for those shooting deer at night to iden­tify an­i­mals were of the right age, did not have fawns or were not preg­nant and that they were suited to be sold as food.

There are also con­cerns wild deer shot on farms could po­ten­tially have been graz­ing on crops sprayed with chem­i­cals that have with­hold­ing pe­ri­ods for hu­man con­sump­tion.

In Tas­ma­nia, a num­ber of com­mer­cial deer farm­ers cur­rently sup­ply the mar­ket with po­ten­tial to pro­duce more.

Mr Frydrych said some whole­salers were un­will­ing to pay pre­mium prices for qual­ity Tas­ma­nian farmed veni­son.

Le­nah Game Meats’ is one whole­saler that sup­ports the Gov­ern­ment’s plan. In a sub­mis­sion to the Up­per House in­quiry into man­ag­ing deer, owner John Kelly said Le­nah Game Meats could sell about 1.5 tonnes of wild-shot veni­son a month in Tas­ma­nia and a fur­ther three tonnes in­ter­state.

Mr Kelly said he was cur­rently im­port­ing veni­son to fill prod­uct or­ders.

The State Gov­ern­ment re­leased its re­sponse to the in­quiry this week.

It in­cludes launch­ing a cen­sus of the wild deer pop­u­la­tion next year, which would also try to de­ter­mine how many are in Tas­ma­nia’s wilder­ness ar­eas.

The re­sponse out­lines tar­geted con­trol pro­grams and reg­u­lated recre­ational hunting. A UTAS re­port in 2016 pre­dicted the state’s wild fal­low deer pop­u­la­tion could reach one mil­lion by 2050 if not bet­ter reg­u­lated.

The Gov­ern­ment’s strat­egy would al­low limted num­bers of wild deer to be taken and a new Tas­ma­nian Game Coun­cil would de­cide if that would be through shooting and field dress­ing or cap­tur­ing and then trans­port­ing live deer to pro­cess­ing plants.

Pri­mary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Jeremy Rock­liff said a group of land­hold­ers would be iden­ti­fied to work with lo­cal meat pro­ces­sors on a veni­son trial.

“The new Game Coun­cil is set to ad­vise on the fea­si­bil­ity of a limited trial us­ing spe­cial per­mits for deer farm­ers and land­hold­ers to sup­ply wild deer prod­ucts for the reg­u­lated food or restau­rant trade.”

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