Feral deer populations have increased dramatically across NSW.
Feral deer populations have increased dramatically across NSW.

Changes won't allow farmers to rein deer in

NSW farmers will get little relief from changes to the state's deer hunting rules, which continue to tie land owners up in red tape as they battle increasing numbers of the pest animal. 

That's the claim from the Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox.

"If farmers want to control feral animals such as pigs, goats and rabbits all they need is a gun licence," Mr Cox said.

"But if they want to control feral deer the government is forcing shooters through an extra layer of red tape by insisting they get a game licence as well.

"Controlling feral deer needs to be made easier and pressure applied to irresponsible farmers that allow feral deer to breed up.

"The latest changes are a major disappointment. Deer shooters on a farmer's land still have to buy a game licence every year and follow an extra set of rules."

"Exploding deer numbers have made feral deer the state's biggest pest problem," Mr Cox said.

Deer numbers have doubled in NSW over the last seven years and the six species of feral deer now cover at least 17% of NSW.

"Feral deer are eating up farmers' pastures and crops, are a growing road safety and biosecurity threat and are ruining creeks and forests.

"The hunting rules and the protected status of deer are the main reasons we have got ourselves into this mess. A pest management approach will get us out of it.

"Less red tape will help farmers work together at lower cost. More aerial shooting and professional shooters are needed. Research must quickly come up with more effective and humane control tools and methods.

"The game status of feral deer in NSW is an anachronism and must be dropped.

Deer are no different to other feral animals such as pigs, foxes and goats." 

A national Senate inquiry into the impacts of feral deer, pigs and goats holds its first hearings in Melbourne on Tuesday, November 20. 

About the hunting rule changes

The order under the Game Act published in the NSW Government Gazette on Friday, November 16 applies across the state for three years and partially lifts hunting rules for feral deer on public and private land. 

For most of the state, deer hunting rules have been relaxed, but there is no relief for farmers in areas where hunting rules were already partially suspended such as the southeast, Illawarra, Upper Hunter, Northern Tablelands and Port Macquarie.

The order removes seasonal closures that banned control during breeding seasons for some deer species.

For private land and for state forests where hunting already takes place, licensed hunters can now shoot deer from a vehicle and use baits and lures.

On private land, deer shooting is now permitted at night and spotlights and night vision glasses can be used. For the nine local government areas where hunting rules were partially lifted in 2017, private land managers will gain no benefit.



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