Action to curb the growing population of fallow deer in Tasmania will have to wait until the recommendations from a Legislative Council inquiry are presented to the state government.
A report by University of Tasmania researchers Ted Lefroy, from the Centre for Environment, Christopher Johnson, a Wildlife Conservation and ARC Australian Professorial Fellow and David Bowman, a professor of Environmental Change Biology identified the possibility for fallow deer numbers to increase from about 40,000 to more than 1 million by 2050.
The inquiry started earlier in the year and submissions closed on June 30. DPIPWE was one of the stakeholders to submit to the inquiry, with others including the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA), the Tasmanian Deer Advisory Council and forestry representatives. It is chaired by MLC Rob Armstrong.
The state government submission expressed a need for caution in drawing conclusions about the impact of the deer from the impact of other deer species in Australia.
“Some landowners have identified problems with deer on their properties and regard deer as a threat to the biodiversity of remnant grasslands and the regeneration of woodlands,” the submission read.
“Despite this assertion there has been little research into the environmental impact of fallow deer in Tasmania.”
The report said the lack of understanding about the potential impacts of fallow deer was likely due to lack of investigation and the department was supportive of any work that would better quantify that impact.
The TFGA submission said fallow deer presented a “threat” to agriculture due to the following reasons: damage and competition for livestock grazing pasture; damage to crops; as a potential disease vector for livestock and damage to native vegetation.
The TFGA submission also raised the issue of deer being a biosecurity threat, with the potential to spread infectious diseases to livestock due to genetic similarities. A recent survey undertaken by the TFGA found that a large percentage of those surveyed wanted a state policy control framework for the control of fallow deer that should be more flexible and include the capacity for farmers to cull deer throughout the year.
The inquiry is expected to hold public consultations in October.