Wild Deer: The Illawarra needs a humane, ethical and rational solution, not more hunters

The Greens NSW are calling for legal and policy changes to deliver evidence-based, humane, and effective methods for controlling wild deer populations in the Illawarra region. For too long, the government has ignored the animal welfare and environmental concerns regarding wild deer in the region and instead treated wild deer as a protected “game” resource for a minority of hunters.

Greens MP David Shoebridge, is calling for action to protect the environment and property from damage caused by wild deer. Natural reserves on the Illawarra escarpment are under significant pressure from grazing by deer, while many landowners have had to resort to electric fences to protect their property.

Meanwhile the government places artificial restrictions on professional deer control programs through the Game and Feral Animal Control Act, restrictions that are designed to maintain large and growing deer populations for a tiny minority of hunters. These restrictions must be removed so that evidence based and humane control programs can be undertaken by professionals while viable non-lethal control programs are developed and implemented.

The government’s current approach of promoting ad hoc hunting of deer by untrained amateurs delivers needless suffering for the animals and no positive outcomes for either the environment or landowners. In fact it encourages a large and growing wild deer herd in the Illawarra.

Greens MP and Spokesperson for Firearms David Shoebridge said:

“Landowners in the Illawarra have developed a humane and ethical deer management program but it has been crippled by artificial restrictions designed to ensure amateur hunters have more deer to kill.

“The current law isn’t at all about reducing the impact of wild deer, it is all about managing the herd for weekend hunters to kill for so-called “sport”.

“There is a growing body of overseas research on non-lethal methods of controlling wild deer populations, such as contraception, contragestation, and sterilisation, but none of this is being applied or developed locally.

“To make matters worse, John Ajaka, the Liberal party’s Minister for Illawarra,  is so out of touch on the issue that he says he hasn’t seen a single deer in the region. It’s no wonder that the problem just grows.”

“This week I again visited properties and bushland impacted by wild deer and heard locals crying out for a humane, safe and effective solution.

“The simple fact is that is a real problem for the local area and the ongoing mismanagement by the government needs to end.

“People expect to see policies that will seriously reduce the numbers and the impact of wild deer and for this to be done in the most humane and ethical manner possible.

“We always need to remember that wild deer are sentient animals and we have a clear obligation to treat them humanely and prevent their needless suffering at the hands of untrained amateur hunters.

“Amateur hunting must end and be replaced by professional and ethical control programs that are designed to reduce the overall population of wild deer.

“The best chance of controlling wild deer in the long term is to fund effective non-lethal population control measures to protect the bush and property,”  Mr Shoebridge said

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