Wild deer put on back-burner

Wild deer put on back-burner as government delays control plan

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HOLD: Deer populations are rising in Victoria, however, the government has delayed a plan to control the animals.

HOLD: Deer populations are rising in Victoria, however, the government has delayed a plan to control the animals.

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A plan to reduce wild deer in Victoria has been put on hold.

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A coordinated plan to tackle growing numbers of wild deer across Victoria has been put on hold amid recent bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic.

The coordinated bureaucrat-led strategy was due to be released by the end of 2019, however, the government says bushfires which burnt large sections of deer habitat have caused the plan to be delayed.

"Swift action has been taken to cull deer following the bushfires earlier this year, which has been aimed at reducing their impact and spread following the fires.," a state government spokeswoman said.

The Victorian Deer Management Strategy was set to lay out framework to tackle the invasive species, particularly in eastern Victoria where the deer had been causing headaches for primary produces in the lead up to the fires.

Sheep and cattle producers Alan and Noeleen Smith, Innisfail, Omeo, said deer populations on their property had subsided in recent years.

"It's not a big problem for us at the moment but it does get frustrating when they occasionally get caught up in the electric fencing, ultimately shorting the fences out," Mrs Smith said.

"It was a big problem five years ago but since then we've had people come onto the property to help reduce deer numbers."

The Smiths lost 300 joined ewes and about 70 per cent of their 1600-hectare property in the January fires.

"Since the bushfires, I'd say the deer population has reduced because we haven't had that much trouble with them," Mrs Smith said.

"However, it really is too early to tell as the deer often come onto our property in winter the snow pushes them closer to us in search of feed so only time will tell."

In 2018, more than 121,600 deer were culled in Victoria, up from 106,275 in 2007.

The deer management plan was supposed to provide a "clear and coordinated approach to deer management in Victoria".

South of Omeo in the Upper Livingstone Valley, Hereford breeder Simon Lawlor said he was disapointed the government had delayed the plan.

"I'm not happy the plan has been delayed but with the fires and now the COVID-19 outbreak we have bigger fish to fry," he said.

"I suppose my worry is once something is taken off the table whether it will then get put back on the table because it may be lost entirely otherwise."

Mr Lawlor said deer had been less frequent following the fires despite having significant problems with them damaging wild dog fencing in mid-2019.

"I haven't really seen any change because there's a lot of country around me that's not burnt," Mr Lawlor said.

"But I'm fairly confident they are in some of these fire-affected areas because since the fires there hasn't been much change."

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