Deer pol­icy ex­am­ple of good process

Tasmanian Country - - OPINION - Wayne John­ston

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.

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