The Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the control of invasive animals on Crown land has tabled its report.
Field & Game Australia made a submission to this inquiry, as did our colleagues at the Australian Deer Association, and both FGA and ADA representatives gave further evidence at inquiry hearings.
Our summary of recommendations to the inquiry were as follows:
1. A state-wide strategy should be developed, adopted and properly resourced to sustainably manage wild deer populations in Victoria. The advice from our ADA colleagues is supported, in that actions should focus on preventing the establishment of new populations of deer and on protecting high value environmental assets.
2. Existing and future deer (and other wildlife) management programs involving public land managers and recreational hunters should be assessed against a series of objective criteria and resourced appropriately. FGA recommends the extension of this proposed management program specifically, but not limited to, SGRs.
3. An approved management program must be based on data and evidence that supports the programs to enhance the biodiversity outcomes of these important wildlife sanctuaries. This should include fact-based management, research and monitoring.
4. The Game Management Authority employs specialist Game Managers and has a breadth of experience in game and hunting policy. It should be tasked and resourced as the lead agency for the planning and oversight of deer (and other wildlife) programs.
5. The use of sound moderators should be made legal for recreational rifle shooters in Victoria.
6. Necessary changes to regulation should be made to allow the processing of wild shot food for human and pet consumption on commercial premises.
The report, which can be viewed online at the Victorian Parliament website, is extensive, and is based on evidence. Where there is a lack of evidence, this has been acknowledged, with recommendations that research be conducted to inform decisions and policy in future.
Some of the recommendations of note are as follows:
That the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council undertake a land use investigation to assess what areas of public land could be available for recreational hunting. This investigation should include risk assessments and community consultation.
That the Government provide the Game Management Authority with additional resources to manage an increase in recreational hunting, specifically additional authorised Game Officers to improve the in field monitoring of hunters.
That the Victorian Government consult with Victoria Police in relation to recreational hunters having access to Category C and D firearms to facilitate greater invasive animal and pest control.
That Victoria Police consider including recreational hunters participating in coordinated invasive animal control programs within the categories of people eligible to obtain noise suppressors.
That the Government explore amendments to the Meat Industry Act 1993 that would allow wild deer to be processed at game and general meat processing facilities for personal consumption.
That, as part of invasive animal control programs, the Government identify times and places where recreational hunting can make a helpful contribution. The Government should then explore ways to reduce the barriers to hunting at those times and places.
As you can see from the report, the inquiry was detailed and the evidence submitted carefully considered. FGA is grateful for the opportunity to represent the interests of its members, and while this is just a few of the recommendations from the inquiry, there are hints at exciting possibilities for hunting and conservation in the future.