New Management Plan Empowers Tasmanian Farmers to Tackle Fallow Deer Issues

By Hugh Christie on
08 February 2023

by TFGA CEO Hugh Christie,
February 8, 2023.

The management and control of fallow deer on Tasmanian properties has been a significant issue for many landholders, especially in some central regions of the state.

The economic losses attributed to this introduced species on Tasmanian land can be gauged by the fact that over 75,000 deer were taken under Property Protection Permits for the three-year period 2019-21.

That figure does not include over 24,000 deer taken during the same period by recreational hunters during the deer season, yet landholders are still seeing increasing numbers of deer on their properties.

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Central to managing this issue is a regulatory environment that empowers rather than hinders land- holders to manage this introduced species known to cause significant economic and environmental damage on farming properties.

With the approval of the Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan 2022-27 late last year, landholders now have much greater ability to manage fallow deer, including increased flexibility on the management of deer outside their traditional range. This will also improve the ability to manage the spread of fallow deer and the environmental impact they can have on increasing areas of Tasmania.

Importantly, these regulatory changes have also seen the release of application forms for three levels of control. Property Protection Permits, previously called Crop Protection permits, enable a level of control with certain restrictions in Zone 1. Special Purposes Wildlife Permit (SPWP), are applicable to properties desiring to protect identified natural assets protected under legislation and require the property to have a Property Based Wildlife Management Plan.

The third level is the Emergency Property Protection Permit which is for a period of up to four weeks duration to allow deer to be managed to address specific impacts on stock, crops and infrastructure during periods when the particular class of deer concerned cannot be taken using the standard property protection permit.

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Application forms for Permits can be found on the Department of Natural Resources & Environments webpage, or by contacting Game Services Tasmania.

While SPWP’s will require additional information regarding environmental impacts beyond the existing Property Protection Permits, they will provide landholders the ability to manage areas of high concern in a manner that better suits their operations, whilst balancing the interests of overall deer population management.

Critically however, this process ensures that landholders control the management objectives on their property, rather than the introduced fallow deer population being managed as a Crown resource for the benefit of a specific section of the community, regardless of the economic cost being born by the landholder.

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Whilst the implementation of the new management plan represents an important step by Minister Palmer and her department, which should be acknowledged, it has also not been without its’ challenges given the various interests and passionate positions regarding the management of deer in Tasmania. This is why in particular I would also like to acknowledge the commitment and efforts of the TFGA Wildlife Management Committee, members and staff to ensure that the farmers’ voice is heard in this debate and that outcomes will empower landholders to effectively manage invasive pest species on their properties.

This encapsulates to me the value of advocacy to our members, and that by working together we can influence long-term changes to ensure fit-for-purpose regulations that help our farmers stay productive and sustainable.

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As the largest advocacy group in Tasmania and the only one that focuses exclusively on farming and the rural sector, the future of Tasmanian agriculture is our focus.

Join the TFGA today for a greater future.

Contact our Membership Manager, Kellie Morris