Deer policy example of good process
FOR many years the farming community has been dealing with the issue of deer, both feral and farmed. This issue has also involved deer shooters, who have traditionally hunted over a relatively small geographical range.
These days wild deer have unfortunately spread and are now appearing in places never seen before. Naturally this has caused concern among the broader community and many of the TFGA members have been looking for appropriate and effective ways to manage browsing deer on their properties.
Deer have the capacity to cause serious damage to farm infrastructure and crops. This is an issue that is not restricted to Tasmania but tends to occur globally wherever deer are found.
Tasmania’s Minister for Primary Industries Jeremy Rockliff is to be commended for tackling the deer issue and all the competing agendas and politics that have surrounded it for many years.
The State Government’s recently announced response to the Legislative Council inquiry into the management of wild fallow deer is an outstanding example of sound policy development based on broad and thorough stakeholder consultation.
The targeted control programs announced will be used to manage unwanted deer populations in conservation reserves. There will be clear guidelines to reinforce quality deer management. The Government will also undertake a fallow deer population census used to inform future management decsisions, an initiative which is to be highly commended.
The minister will also establish a new Tasmanian game council that will advise on a range of issues and species including deer.
And there will be a new Game Services Tasmania section established within the department, which will have an agricultural focus and be designed to support farmers to effectively manage deer and other browsing animals.
It is pleasing to also note that the TFGA’s suggestion of a five-year crop protection permit will also be adopted. There will also be further support prodided to the deer-farming industry.
There has been some media comment and speculation around allowing farmers to use wild deer from their properties and sell them for human consumption.
The TFGA has concerns about this proposal but we are pleased to see the minister indicate the new game council will consider the feasibility of a limited trial using special permits for landholders.
At the appropriate time the TFGA will make representations to this council.
On balance this has been a well thought-out policy position with some very positive initiatives to support farmers in dealing with wild deer.
This process should act as a template for other ministers and governments when dealing with a broad number of stakeholders with differing agendas and perspectives.