SSAA Victoria is reserving judgement on Parks Victoria’s decision to trial aerial culling of Sambar deer in areas of the National Park (maps below) in October.
We want to see what the trial produces before we take a stand on aerial culling because we will then have facts and not guesses to work with.
However, we always have and always will call on the government to allow recreational hunters into those areas as the first tool to control the deer population.
Formalised control programs using volunteer hunters would be the preferred next step on those occasions where recreational hunting alone is not achieving management objectives.
Only in areas where recreational hunting and volunteer control programs have proven ineffective should paid ground-based or aerial contractors be considered.
There have been valid concerns expressed by some SSAA Victoria members regarding the trial. The Association shares some of these concerns and has expressed them to PV. Transparency around the trial and clarity of the implications of it are fundamental to any acceptance of the results.
A request by SSAA Victoria to provide an independent observer during the trial to provide that transparency has been declined. PV has agreed to provide a detailed stakeholder briefing prior to the operation as well as providing the information in the attached PDFs.
One important factor to bear in mind is that deer numbers are increasing and while not to the extent of some of the hysterical claims of the National Parks Association, we agree deer numbers need to be controlled.
If they are not controlled, deer could be reclassified as a pest animal and lose their status as our premier game species.
This is among the worst possible outcomes from a hunter’s perspective.
Our position with the government is that deer numbers are increasing because hunters are being denied access to the areas where they are abundant.
These sanctuary areas have allowed population levels to increase to unsustainable numbers and then disperse into surrounding areas. Greater access equates to a greater take, all at no cost to government, which will ultimately reduce populations.
The government’s position is that there are many interest groups other than hunters and it must find a balance that will satisfy all of us.
We respect that position because if we simply oppose everything rather than try to negotiate, we will be shut out of the conversation completely and lose our seat at the table on other issues.
Our relationship with Parks Victoria has contributed to the recent decision to open 90,000ha of National Park to recreational hunting.
We expect the government to look at deer and hunting with fresh eyes and not be constrained by historical thinking. Hunters must also adapt to a changing world and likewise be prepared to look at alternate ways to manage deer and keep an open mind on issues such as this trial.
Trials are just that, trials. Everyone has an opinion on whether something will or won’t work and a theory to back up their position. Sometimes concerns are justified. Sometimes they are shown to be unfounded.
Hunters have also called for trials. The recent Snake Island balloted hog deer hunting trial has proved that safety concerns expressed about hunting on the island were not valid.
A trial allows a theory to be tested to measure its validity before permanently committing to a course of action.
What the Association does recognise is that in specific areas where deer are having significant and unacceptable negative environmental impacts they do need to be managed. However, it does not mean that SSAA Victoria necessarily supports the potential future aerial culling of deer.
The Association will be carefully monitoring the trial. It should give a good indication as to whether aerial culling of Sambar is effective, cost efficient and humane in the Victorian situation.
We expect game management decisions to be based on fact, not emotion. This trial must also be judged on fact, not emotion.
If aerial culling turns out to be unviable it won’t be an issue after the trial. Only once the facts are known will the Association be able to develop a reasoned and informed response to the aerial culling issue.