A Mole Creek venison producer has spoken out against deregulation of the fallow deer industry amid concerns the wild population will grow to one million by 2050.
Springfield Deer Farm, established at Mole Creek in 2013, raises and processes its own high quality venison on site and has made a submission to the Legislative Council’s open wild fallow deer inquiry.
The inquiry was established earlier this year after the release of a report by University of Tasmania researchers forecast the current wild population to grow from about 40,000 to more than one million by 2050.
It’s believed the inquiry has attracted about 56 submissions, including the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, the state government, forestry organisation Forico and the Tasmanian Deer Council.
Springfield owner Michael Frydrych said in his submission to the Legislative Council that deregulation of the industry could be ‘potentially fatal’ to the Tasmanian venison industry.
“The perception that numbers have increased and therefore should be addressed by deregulation measures is, quite frankly, mistaken, ill-informed and short-sighted in the extreme,” Mr Frydrych said in his submission.
The submission outlined several reasons why deregulation would hinder, rather than help, the venison industry, including the potential for pests and reducing the quality of the product.
Mr Frydrych said deregulating the industry would flood the market with venison the equivalent of “road kill” that would drive down the quality of the Tasmanian product in an already oversupplied and competitive market.
He also said allowing deregulation would impact on the quality of meat if a “correct despatch procedure” wasn’t implemented.
“As fallow deer are highly skittish animals a correct despatch procedure needs to be implemented. Any incorrect procedure will lead to bruising and blood splatter, leaving the meat only good enough for pet food – the informed slaughter of the animal is paramount to delivering a quality product,” the submission read.
In addition it would increase the potential for hydatid pests to be introduced in Tasmania.
“Whilst Tasmania is hydatid free at the moment and major efforts are being undertaken to ensure it remains so, with large amounts of offal left in the bush and on farms for roaming dogs to consume it is arguably only a matter of time before this could be passed on to humans.”
Mr Frydrych said it was wrong to assume higher visibility of deer in Tasmania was equal to higher populations and that it was possible the higher visibility was a result of recent weather conditions.
The prolonged dry season and harsh winter conditions could have forced the wild deer to gather closer to irrigated farms and gardens as their food source dwindled.
The producer urged the government to look at other solutions such as an extended hunting season; a well-managed and administered mass cull; allowing farmers to shoot deer for their own use and shooting deer for pet food before committing to deregulation.