MORE deer than ever before were hunted in Victoria last year.
Almost 100,000 deer, including 80,875 Sambar and 15,059 Fallow were hunted and harvested in 2016, according to a report by Victoria’s Game Management Authority and the Arthur Rylah Institute.
Based on a survey of 1600 licensed hunters, the report found last year’s total harvest was almost twice the average since 2009 (55,681) and 30 per cent more than the 2015 harvest of 71,142 deer.
“We’re getting more hunters, hunting more often,” GMA chief executive Greg Hyams said. “Surveys showed each licensed hunter hunted on approximately 6.6 days in 2016, or almost 208,000 hunter days in total.”
The report found the average take by licensed hunters was 3.1 deer per season, up from 2.2 deer, which had been the average since 2009, making it the highest figure ever recorded.
It showed Dargo, Mansfield, Jamieson, Licola and Myrtleford were the top five hunting towns, “recording the greatest number of deer hunting days”.
Mr Hyams said stalking was the preferred hunting method of hunting, ahead of using scent-trailing hounds.
Australian Deer Association chief executive Barry Howlett said more than 65 per cent of Victoria’s deer harvest occurred on public land, where hunters could help manage overabundant deer.
“Hunters are absolutely part of the management mix, so are private landowners, government agencies, regional communities, environment and conservation groups and paid wildlife controllers,” Mr Howlett said.
The 2016 report comes after a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into invasive species recommended in June that the Government allocate more resources to measure the impact of invasive species.
The inquiry found “the lack of comprehensive data about deer in Victoria makes it difficult to accurately determine the reasons for changes in the deer population” and “the population of deer has increased alarmingly in recent decades, causing a number of problems for native ecosystems and agricultural enterprises”.
It also recommended the Government explore amendments to the Meat Industry Act that would allow wild deer to be processed for personal consumption and the Government act to limit the spread of deer to new parts of Victoria.
The Government is expected to respond to that report by the end of the year.