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Wild deer

Wild deer

Photo by Hashan/Pixabay

Photo by Hashan/Pixabay

Wild deer

Sasha Parissis, ECU Reporter

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Would you eat a deer burger? Deer ravioli or a deer little sausage roll?

These food items could be making their way onto the menus of your local cafes and restaurants, as wild deer have become a problem to the environment in rural Tasmania.

According to a recent news article, Tasmania has had an increasingly large number of wild deer causing devastating impacts on the World Heritage Area and farmland.

Environmentalist Bob Brown said to the ABC, “The State Government now has been aware for years of the rapid spread of wild deer through rural Tasmania, as well as into national parks and the World Heritage Area and has done nothing.

“What’s required here is action from the Minister for National Parks, that’s Will Hodgman, to stop the deer in their tracks.”

In Western Australia, the hunting of feral and pest animals is permitted only by those on private property with the landowner’s permission.

According to the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia WA (SSAA-WA), “Only a current firearms licence is required to hunt on private property. There is no hunting permit or fee applicable. A firearms licence cannot be issued to a person under the age of 18 years.”

Animals falling under the feral or pest species categories are regularly hunted in WA. These include; rabbits, foxes, pigs, hares, ducks, and goats.

Neither deer nor wild deer are posing any threat to WA farmers at this point in time.

Hunting of all other native species in WA for food purposes is restricted to Indigenous Australian communities.

SSAA-WA Conservation & Wildlife Management Coordinator Marcus Bamford said: “The majority of the shooting that we undertake in WA is environmental shooting – that is, shooting that is specifically intended to reduce the environmental impact of feral species.

“Usually these animals are not harvested for food but are culled because they are having a significant impact on biodiversity, native species degradation or an economic impact.”

Mr Bamford continued, “In Western Australia deer hunting specifically is a very small niche activity. There are several feral deer species present in WA and as all are invasive, they are all able to be culled where legal to do so (on private land) but their numbers are thankfully not yet so large that they present a significant environmental hazard.”

He believes that deer are a potential threat to WA’s flora and fauna.

“As an environmentalist, my personal view is that deer are not a part of the Western Australian ecosystem, so we should be doing our best to remove them.”

Mr Bamford concluded that the treatment of deer is very much a priority amongst WA hunters.

“Care for the animal being harvested is at the top of the requirements list for all hunters. It is enshrined in the ethos, training and practices we all go through for good reason. There are strict procedures for shot placement and calibre selection to ensure no animal suffers unnecessarily.”

However, not all are on board with deer being culled across Australia.

PETA spokeswoman Emma Hurst told NewsVineWA: “Today, most hunting is recreational, meaning it is quite probably a sign of some sort of psychological problem in which the desire for a thrill and a kill cannot be satisfied by a video game or some other of the thousands of amusements at our disposal.

“If a group of people shot dogs, we’d call it outright abuse, so why call it something more benign when they do it to deer? Deer are gentle, family-oriented animals with precisely the same capacity to feel pain and to suffer as the dogs and cats we share our homes with – the same capacity to suffer as our own.

“The fact is that when deer are shot, not all die outright: some suffer lingering deaths, and all leave family members or mates behind. It suits the blood sport industry to play down the fact that hunting has no place in modern Australia or any ethically developed society, but it will soon go the way of cockfighting, bear-baiting and dogfighting.”

The hunting of deer has proven to be a tricky ethical issue.

Logistically speaking, one of the challenges that hunting deer presents is their adaptability and difficultly to spot in the environment. This makes hunting them and controlling their numbers very difficult.

In general, hunting of deer on the east coast of Australia requires significant patience and investment of time and is done by very small parties of hunters on foot. Deer are almost exclusively shot with large calibre bolt action rifles.

Anyone who knowingly shoots a protected native species is subject to prosecution and WA’s shooting community claim to go out of their way to assist in identifying any offenders.

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About the Writer
Sasha Parissis, Reporter

Sasha is a young broadcaster who hopes to one day be a radio presenter for 92.9 or Nova 93.7. She is interested in languages, she is learning both Greek and French, and enjoys volunteering at her local radio station 6EBA FM World Radio as a radio producer.

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