After a quarter of a century of lobbying the Victorian Labor Government has approved a two-year trial of hog deer hunting on Snake Island in South Gippsland.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the trial, commencing in February 2017, will provide further opportunity for safe and sustainable recreational hunting in the area.
Field & Game Australia general manager David McNabb said our colleagues at the Australian Deer Association are to be commended for keeping focus on achieving this wonderful outcome at Snake Island.
"This serves to demonstrate a number of important messages for us all, and is not only about opening up incredible new hunting opportunities," he said.
David said the outcome creates value from access to our natural resources, wildlife and land.
"Our ADA colleagues have been sensitive to the variety of stake holders with an interest in use of Snake Island. ADA have taken an approach that once again demonstrates facts and data are critical to good decisions, and where these support the case, creates the opportunity for multiple use of our public assets," he said.
"This approach is all too rare today. Typically where hunting is concerned. precaution and exclusivity of use typically holds out to our detriment. Congratulations to all involved for this wonderful achievement."
Balloted hunting on Snake Island will follow the successful model that has operated at the Blond Bay State Game Reserve and Boole Poole Peninsula for the last 28 years.
Snake Island is home to one of the largest populations of hog deer in Australia.
The Australian Deer Association praised the decision and said the intervention of the Victorian Shooters and Fishers Party MP's had been critical in realising this goal for all hunters.
“Hunters have been asking for this since the 1960’s and actively campaigning for balloted hunting on Snake Island for the past twenty five years” ADA Victorian President Col Brumley said.
“Snake Island holds a large percentage of Victoria’s hog deer and Minister D’Ambrosio is to be commended for recognising that a highly valued and sustainable use of this unique piece of public land has been denied to law abiding hunters without good reason for far too long”.
The ADA put forward a fresh proposal late in 2015 after previous attempts failed in 1991, 2004 and 2013.
“It’s one of those issues where we are convinced that the principle is sound so we persevered with it,” Mr Brumley said.
“Jeff Bourman (Shooters & Fishers) saw the sense in it straight away and he and Daniel Young have championed the proposal on behalf of Victoria’s 36 000 licensed deer hunters.
Mr Brumley said the Snake Island Cattlemen’s Association have consistently opposed hunting on the Island, citing concerns about public safety, sustainability and tourism.
“The Cattlemen’s fears are no doubt sincerely held, but they are completely unfounded” Mr Brumley said.
“Two expert risk assessments from Victoria Police over the past four years have confirmed that there is no risk to public safety.”
The ballot and hunting periods will be strictly regulated by the Game Management Authority (GMA), the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Parks Victoria.
No more than eight hunters will be allowed to hunt at any one time, and hunting will not be permitted on weekends or public holidays.
“Opening up Snake Island to balloted Hog Deer hunting will bring new visitors into the region, which will benefit local businesses and tourism operators,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.
“Balloted hunting will be conducted in a way that minimizes the impact on other users of Snake Island and places safety as its highest priority.”
Snake Island is situated within Corner Inlet and is part of the Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park in South Gippsland. Access to the island is by boat and is tide dependent with the closest boat ramp at Port Welshpool. There are an estimated 500 hog deer on the island.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said GMA and Parks Victoria will work closely with stakeholders including the Snake Island Cattlemen’s Association, whose members are permitted to graze cattle on public land on the island under an annual licence agreement, to ensure the success of the two-year trial.
“Hunting is a very popular and legal recreation. Victoria’s 32 000 deer hunters actively hunt on almost 200 000 hunter days every year, with the vast majority of hunting occurring on public land, including parks and other reserves,” she said.
Anyone wishing to enter the ballot can apply online on the GMA website www.gma.vic.gov.au
The ballot will be drawn in early December with hunting to occur during February to May 2017. The trial will be reviewed in 2018 following the completion of two ballots and seasons.