The working group for the National Feral Deer Action Plan was released last week, and with that it caught the attention of the hunting community and associated entities. Unfortunately, a number of these entities, from social media influencers, organisations, podcasters, and more, are spreading misinformation about this. We don’t wish to imply it’s purposeful misinformation, but its effect is getting members of the hunting community riled up and angry at the wrong things. While Eureka Outdoors isn’t a lobby group or advocacy association, this is a retail business, as a working wildlife biologist working in a relevant field, I feel it’s my personal obligation to do what I can to ensure the truth is spread and mitigate these entities from taking advantage of the anger they’ve caused. Understandably, deer hunting is important to people. It’s cultural for some people, how they were raised, or how they connect with the land. The topic is an emotional trigger for many people, who find that any commentary that appears to shine a negative light on deer hunting is a personal attack, even though that’s not the intended purpose nor even implied in said commentary. If you feel yourself getting emotional, make sure to take a moment, take a breath, and continue on when you can. 

This article is not an endorsement of the plan, nor is it opposing it. 

The Plan

Let's start with what the “National Feral Deer Action Plan'' is, or rather, what it isn’t. It is not a piece of legislation, it is not a binding policy, and with that it’s not something that gets “fought”. I’d be wary of any entity that implies they will be fighting it (and that you should donate money). In effect, it’s a “best practice”* manual for land managers and other relevant stakeholders (which means state governments, LGA councils, and anyone else who owns land) who wish to remove deer from their land. And why they should, where the working group wants there to be focus, what legislation is relevant, research evidence, and a bit more. But ultimately, it’s a resource guide. Like one you’d have at your work on how to conduct certain tasks. Land managers and stakeholders can choose to follow it if they wish. Now that does include the state governments, and that’s whose responsibility of deer falls under. The state government can choose to do what they want. In SA it seems the state government is funding deer eradication, in QLD they put the responsibility of deer onto LGA’s, Vic have their public land hunting system, and so on. If you wish to see less culls or see deer used in a different manner, then you need to contact your state MP.

Poisons and baits

If you actually read the plan, they outline that there is no poison authorised for use to control deer numbers. Again, be wary of any entity who are saying this plan is saying to drop lots of poison. What it does say is that they support the development and registration of baits for deer through the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). To develop and register a new poison in Australia is a lengthy purpose, and chemists today have learnt very well from the past. They are very cognisant of flow-on effects. Again, not saying we support or don’t support this, but it’s important to be truthful.

The "working group"

So much commentary goes along the lines of “these office/city people don’t know what it’s like in the bush” or some such. This is simply lying, a combination of confabulation and illusory truth effect. A number of the people in the working group are situated in rural areas, doing a lot of work in the field, some of whom are even hunters and shooters. Don’t let yourself believe a lie and get angry at that lie simply because you want it to be the case. Doing so diminishes the reputation of the hunting community.

The working group consists of representatives from stakeholder groups, some are representatives from government organisations where "feral deer" fall under their portfolio, others are industry groups. Again, these are not politicians, they are not setting legislation, nor policy, they are there to provide advice and evidence for "best practice" methods.

Final words

Again, this is not an endorsement of the plan nor opposing it. At a later date we will do a post and article dissecting the plan, showing flaws, showing what’s truthful, and what could (even should) have been considered. The point of this post was to ensure further commentary on it is from a place of proper understanding, and to try and make sure entities don’t take advantage of deer hunter’s heightened emotions.

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