Fallow Deer inquiry held in Hobart

An inquiry looking into the state’s fallow deer population heard suggestions including a statewide cull, the species be recognised as a pest, and an extension of hunting season on Tuesday. 

The public Legislative Council hearing saw representatives from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Wildlife and Environment, Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee, Bob Brown Foundation, and others. 

The inquiry was set up to look at the wild fallow deer population in Tasmania and its environmental impacts, commercial activities on private land, and the species partly protected status. 

A University of Tasmania study released earlier this year found deer numbers could grow to up to one million by 2050. 

DPIPWE said that while it was hard to estimate the deer population, numbers had reached about 30,000. 

In its submission, DPIPWE suggested the population was increasing in the long term and was being found beyond its traditional range, with many animals now located in the state’s Midlands.

It said this had occurred because the animals were moving to available habitat, there have been escapes and releases from deer farms, and illegal releases.

Bob Brown Foundation president Bob Brown said the increasing population of deer could lead to the destruction of Tasmanian plants and animals. 

He went back on previous comments made in his submission that aerial culling was required. 

In Parliament, Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee chairman Matthew Allen said that while many state forests had a population of deer, many were found on agricultural land. 

“One of the biggest problems has been the fact that we allow deer farms outside of what we’ve always called the traditional range,” Mr Allen said. 

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy recommended that fallow deer should be immediately delisted as a partly protected species and for the government to recognise the species as a feral pest.

The organisation’s Science and Planning manager Sally Bryant said that deer were being detected where that had not been previously. 

“The numbers really need to be drastically reduced so they can be maintained at a very low, non-threatening, non-invasive level,” she said. 

“If there was a statewide coordinated cull we would absolutely be happy to be part of that and we would be happy to withdrawn the conservation that we’re doing.”