MANY READERS will be aware of the increasing number of incidents in and around Warrandyte involving deer.
There are regular posts on the Warrandyte Businesses and Community Facebook page about deer sightings, and regular walkers in Warrandyte State Park are likely to have spotted a deer or two around Fourth Hill and The Pound.
There is an increasing number of posts regarding incidents involving deer on roads too.
The Andersons Creek Landcare Group is on the front line when it comes to the battle against the damage inflicted by the deer population.
Andersons Creek Landcare Group Secretary, Jill Dixon, spoke to the Diary about the deer problem at Andersons Creek Reserve.
“Deer are now quite a serious problem, doing more damage than foxes, rabbits and feral cats.
“They are so large, they breed quickly and can reach up high, with a taste for most bushes and trees and stripping the bark off trees,” she said.
In November 2018, the Diary published a story about environmental groups’ dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy (DVDMS), their dissatisfaction supported by concurrent submissions by Manningham, Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges Councils to the DVDMS in July/August of that year to make it easier for councils to control the deer populations in peri-urban municipalities.
But the DVDMS is woefully inadequate and local Landcare groups are asking residents to write to State Government to convey this concern.
“You can help by writing to Victorian State Ministers on the inadequate strategies currently in the planning process which we believe are too few and too slow,” said Ms Dixon.
Public submissions and responses to the DVDMS were due to be released in February this year.
The Diary wrote to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to ask them for an update on the DVDMS.
“A Deer Management Strategy is currently being developed to set out a coordinated and strategic approach to deer management across the state.
“Feedback received during public consultation is currently being reviewed to inform the development of the final strategy.
“The final strategy will be released later this year,” said a spokesperson for DELWP.
The Diary also spoke with North Ringwood resident Brian Dungey, a licensed hunter.
Mr Dungey believes the deer are not as large a threat to the local environment as others have stated.
“Yes, deer do some damage to the environment… but compared to people and stock they do very little.
“People as a whole need to care more for their environment before we start blaming animal species — we are the more destructive species.
“I would pose the observation that kangaroos do more damage due to their over-population here in Warrandyte,” he said.
Mr Dungey also believes the DVDMS has missed the mark, but for very different reasons.
“While it acknowledges deer are both a material and monetary resource it doesn’t do enough to help landowners and the State to benefit more from the money that could be derived from foreign hunters and from balloted hunts.
“The document does acknowledge that deer are too many and too wary to remove from everywhere, hunters also acknowledge this and the Government should make further use of these people, and not just one group of hunters.
“The use of scent-trailing hounds is generally acknowledged as the most effective form of deer management yet the document doesn’t make use of this tool.
Mr Dungey also commented the deer management strategy does not do enough to discourage illegal hunting practices, and that practices such as arial hunting and poisoning not only cause the animal to suffer, but can also cause more problems down the line, like attracting feral dogs.
“Hunters dislike the waste, expense and cruelty created by aerial shooting.
“Recreational hunters are more than happy to remove all the meat from the deer they take.
“Aerial shooting creates food for feral dogs, which then breed up, and then kill native wildlife.
“What the document needs to do is change the law so venison gathered by legal hunters can be commercially processed and donated to charities for human consumption which happens in many countries,” said Mr Dungey.
Currently, whether you are of the opinion that deer are either a game species that should be protected, or a pest species which needs to be eradicated, this introduced species is still currently protected under the Wildlife Act.
Mr Dungey has some advice for residents who would like to deter deer from their property.
“Deer are creatures of habit, once land owners have established where the deer are accessing their properties, they can set up scarecrows and use solar powered flashing lights to act as a deterrent.
“The more you move around your property the less deer are likely to visit, as they like to be left alone.
“Remember deer only want three things, to eat, to drink and to sleep, you need to deny them what they want.”
Mr Dungey notes these animals have been in country for more than 100 years and have adapted to the environment.
“Perhaps we, as people, need to consider living with these wonderful creatures — they have adapted to living with us — are we so arrogant as a species that we expect other sentient creatures to conform to us?”
If an invasive deer population, or any wildlife is causing significant damage to your property, and your only option so to have them destroyed, then there are a series of permits you are required to possess before you can hire a local hunter.
This starts with an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit which is issued by DELWP.
A recent discussion on 3AW, and subsequently the Rural Link Facebook group, regarding the explosion in number of eastern grey kangaroo across Nillumbik, attributed to a migration of the kangaroo population from the Northern Growth Corridor.
Urban development is displacing the kangaroos in the urban growth corridor and forcing them to move onto properties in the Green Wedge.
Property owners are reporting an exponential rise in the number of kangaroos causing property damage and becoming a traffic hazard, this may add some weight to Mr Dungey’s controversial statement regarding living with deer.
Extending this to encompass all wildlife, maybe the discussion should look to how Green Wedge communities can co-habit with both indigenous and introduced wildlife as urban expansion around Melbourne continues.
Photos: Shirley Bendle