The Courier-Mail - - OPINION -

WILD deer are emerg­ing as a big­ger men­ace than din­goes in Queens­land with warn­ings they may spread deadly foot-and-mouth dis­ease to the bil­lion-dol­lar beef herd.

There are at least 30,000 feral deer in Queens­land, with land­hold­ers say­ing those num­bers are vastly un­der­es­ti­mated.

As well as car­ry­ing con­ta­gious dis­eases and ticks into tick-free cat­tle zones, the deer are com­pet­ing with live­stock and na­tive an­i­mals for pas­ture.

The Cen­tre for In­va­sive Species So­lu­tions has be­gun an $8.7 mil­lion study to find ways to erad­i­cate and con­tain the deer.

Matt Gen­tle, a Queens­land Gov­ern­ment biose­cu­rity zo­ol­o­gist, has joined re­searchers us­ing drones and ther­mal imag­ing to track deer.

Toowoomba-based Gen­tle says as well as the foot-and-mouth threat, wild deer harm agri­cul­ture and re­for­esta­tion pro­grams.

The deer tram­ple crops or eat them. They also feast on cer­tain na­tive plants, as well as plants and flow­ers in parks and gar­dens.

Sci­en­tists dis­cov­ered the an­i­mal’s agility when they pho­tographed one crawl­ing un­der a fence.

Gen­tle says wild deer (pic­tured) pose a grow­ing traf­fic ac­ci­dent threat in so-called peri­ur­ban ar­eas like Bris­bane’s western sub­urbs, the Sun­shine Coast hin­ter­land and the More­ton Bay Re­gional Coun­cil area.

Deer are in large num­bers in the Bris­bane Val­ley, on the Gran­ite Belt and in bush zones west of Lon­greach, north of Cler­mont and on the Ather­ton Table­land.

Gen­tle says the four species caus­ing dam­age in Queens­land are

the red deer, the rusa, the chi­tal and the fal­low deer. All are in­tro­duced.

Deer in Queens­land are reg­u­larly trapped and shot from light planes and he­li­copters. Some are poi­soned. Sci­en­tists at­tempt­ing to count and track deer herds were this week crawl­ing around in the bush count­ing deer poo pel­lets.

A Queens­land Gov­ern­ment re­port en­ti­tled Feral Deer Man­age­ment Strat­egy sug­gests the in­va­sive pest could be a money-spin­ner.

“Land­hold­ers may charge fees for ac­cess to hunt feral deer, and hunt­ing guides and pro­fes­sional out­fit­ters may gen­er­ate in­come by ser­vic­ing recre­ational deer hunters,” it says.

“There are op­por­tu­ni­ties for pro­fes­sional har­vesters to sup­ply the wild veni­son trade for both hu­man con­sump­tion and the pet meat mar­ket.”

This is sen­si­ble. Those of us who have shot and eaten deer can at­test to its tasti­ness.

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