TASMANIAN deer farmers have joined the debate around culling of feral populations in the face of foot and mouth risk as well as calling for tighter restrictions around imported venison products.
There have been suggestions that deregulation of feral deer could facilitate increased culling by farmers and others wanting to hunt the species to reduce numbers and the risk of the feral deer population spreading FMD should an incursion occur in Australia and/or Tasmania.
Michal Frydrych has operated the Springfield Deer Farm in Mole Creek for the past 11 years. It includes a licensed abattoir. He said farmers have had the opportunity to cull wild deer under crop protection permits for many years. However, he said he had heard that either some would not allow shooters on to their property or charge a lot of money for the privilege. “Allowing hunters into an area where you do not want any deer would be the simplest solution but no luck so far,” he said.
Last week respected wildlife biologist Nick Mooney told Tasmanian Country it was time for the State Government to look seriously at deregulating deer and allowing farmers and groups of farmers the opportunity to cull the population. “I am perplexed to see no consideration of the millions of feral hooved animals that roam freely on to and between farms across Australia, species that are potential prime carriers on FMD,” Mr Mooney said.
He said Tasmania should use its geographical isolation to get ahead of the game. “A good, easy, and cheap first start would be to deregulate deer and at least give farmers and groups of farmers the chance to do what authorities have refused to do but just might have to.” Mr Frydrych also has concerns around the importation of wild shot deer.
“To protect Tasmania, we should restrict wild shot deer import into the state, as we cannot be sure where they come from and how controlled the process was,” he said. “One of the largest producers claimed several times that he must import large tonnages annually and sells his product under Tasmanian/sustainable etc. With small print saying, packed in Tasmania. “This is despite large quantities of deer being available on local deer farms. “Any imported venison should have, breed of deer, farmed or wild shot, origin. “Simple, proper branding as, after all we keep hearing is buy local and support local industry.”
Mr Frydrych said there should be a moratorium on importing wild shot deer as long as the potential of FMD was there. “This would also reduce the number of deer on overstocked local licensed deer farms and reduce risk of deer getting out into the bush,” he said.
Primary Industries Minister Jo Palmer said the Government was committed to evidence-based deer management. Mrs Palmer said the Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan 2022-27, released in February, set out the Government’s approach for managing wild fallow deer in Tasmania over the next five years. “In addition to undertaking targeted population monitoring to help refine deer and browsing animal management over time, further research will be conducted to improve our understanding of deer biosecurity issues,” she said.