TASMANIAN farmers and wilderness areas are under threat from a rapidly expanding deer population.
Wild fallow deer are estimated to increase from approximately 40,000 to more than 1 million by 2050, a University of Tasmania study has found.
The report, released last year, has divided farmers and concerned environmentalists, and has been met with frustration by deer hunters.
Deer management has a conflicted history in Tasmania as the species is partly protected yet simultaneously recognised as an invasive pest because of its negative environmental impact and crushing effect on farmers.
Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee chairman Matthew Allen said hunters were willing to help but had been left in a tricky situation.
‘‘There were areas that we were once allowed to hunt that we can’t any more,’’ Mr Allen said, in reference to old state forests that have been turned into national parks.
However, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment has indicated that currently not everyone who has a licence to hunt deer is filling their quota.
Mr Allen denied that licensing numbers would have to increase for deer numbers to diminish.
‘‘In terms of deer licensing, nothing has to change – it’s just Parks [and Wildlife Services] getting their heads around how it’ll work in some areas,’’ he said.
It was announced last November that the stag recreational hunting season had been extended, and an extra doe tag had been added as a way to keep the deer population down.
A Greens spokesperson said blaming a reduction of recreational hunting areas was distorting a far more complex problem.
‘‘That is an oversimplification – it is definitely the case though that Parks and professional shooters need to sit down together along with conservationists and have a discussion about how to manage deer in parks,’’ the spokesperson said.
The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has previously expressed supported for the harvest of feral deer.