Ongoing management of feral deer continues to be a concern for livestock producers across SA.
The South East region in particular has a large population of feral deer which pose a serious threat to livestock production through biosecurity risks, grazing competition, damage to infrastructure and damage to the environment.
Recently the State Government released its draft policy on the management of feral deer in SA.
It is obvious, and the draft policy concedes this, that the current level of control has not been effective at containing the spread or reducing the number of feral deer since 2006 under the first policy on feral deer.
Much of the blame must rest on the deer industry and there needs to be more emphasis on the fencing standards required to stop farmed deer from escaping. More policing of standards is also required. The draft policy reports that there has only been one prosecution for the illegal release of deer between 1986 and 2016.
In addition, it is noted with concern that “many farmed deer are not tagged”. Not only does this means that these deer cannot be counted as escapees, but this raises serious biosecurity concerns for the livestock industry at a time when more stringent requirements are being understandably imposed. Livestock SA recommends that there be mandatory tagging of farmed deer.
While it is accepted that landholders are responsible for destroying feral deer on their land, this is not always possible when these deer move on and off the property. For this reason, it is necessary to work closely with NRM Boards, and it is appreciated that in the draft policy that NRM Boards will seek to source funding to assist in coordinating culling programs.
Livestock SA and its members are willing to work closely with NRM on this issue. This is evident from the following resolutions from a Livestock SA Southern Region meeting held on 3 April 2017 at Kingston:
1.That Livestock SA Southern Region request the Livestock SA Board give strong support to the SE NRM Board’s Aerial Survey and Control Program by making representation to the Federal Government for appropriate funding for the program by the Federal Government to continue beyond 2018.
2. That Livestock SA Southern Region request the Livestock SA Board advocate for expanded landowner participation in the Aerial Survey and Control Program.
3. That Livestock SA Southern Region request the Livestock SA Board advocates to DEWNR and relevant government departments for the enforcement of compliance provisions under the NRM Act with regard to standards of fencing and the confinement of deer within deer enclosures.
4. That Livestock SA Southern Region ask the Livestock SA Board to request PIRSA Biosecurity SA to provide an update of proposed changes as a result of the Review of Feral Deer Policy and for that update to include identifying who is responsible for that Review, what provisions have been made for consultation with relevant stakeholders, when that consultation will take place, and when the Review is predicted to be finalised.
5. That Livestock SA Southern Region ask the Livestock SA Board to request PIRSA Biosecurity SA to provide a comprehensive account of the notifiable diseases that species of deer found in SA can carry, to describe the protocols in place if a test is positive and requests their response to include a summary of the numbers and results of deer tested in the South East since 2000 and plans for future testing.
6. That Livestock SA Southern Region ask the Livestock SA Board to request PIRSA Biosecurity SA to provide all relevant information regarding the new Biosecurity Framework and for that response to highlight the application of that Framework’s relevance to confined or feral deer.
Livestock SA is concerned about funding to support the draft policy. While it is hoped that Federal funding will continue, the State Government needs to make a commitment rather than leaving it to NRM Boards to try and source funding. With State Government involvement this may also lead to a better coordinated approach to the management of feral deer.
Livestock SA are hopeful that recent changes to State Government will ensure a strong approach to feral deer control.
* Details: Feral deer will be an item on the agenda at the next Livestock SA Southern Region Meeting at Keith on Wednesday, April 11, with a 6pm for 6.30pm start.
– JOE KEYNES, President, Livestock SA