Eildon MLA Cindy McLeish has this week told State Parliament about the deer problems in the electorate.
“My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture, and the action I seek is for the minister to release the deer management strategy,” Ms McLeish told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday (Aug. 27).
“The release of this strategy is well behind schedule, as outlined through the Engage Victoria process. An advisory group was established in March last year.
“A targeted stakeholder workshop occurred in April, with a public
consultation process in October. The time line outlined on the Engage Victoria website indicated the release for this strategy.
“Deer numbers have escalated in the electorate of Eildon. From the high country around Mansfield to the Yarra Ranges, to the south and west in Nillumbik and Murrindindi, I hear complaints from constituents constantly about exploding numbers.
“My constituents are looking for action from the government to tackle this problem. They want to see things done, because for too long they have had to suffer. The issues that they raise are collisions with deer and enormous damage to vehicles—panelbeaters do a lot of work in the electorate.
“This is particularly dangerous for people driving at night. We have very windy roads, and it is even more dangerous. We get complaints of illegal hunting, shots being fired too close to houses, spotlights being shone into houses, signs being shot at and carcasses left headless on the edges of towns.
“The illegal activity of some hunters is damaging to the hunters who do the right thing – nd there are many of those.
“I hear of damage to crops; vineyards and orchardists complain of this damage. I have had a vineyard in Taggerty say they did not pick a grape last year because of the damage done by deer; Dixons Creek, similarly.
“Prevention strategies are expensive and extra wire fencing or electrification costs a lot. We have had damage to gardens; residents complain constantly.
“It is not uncommon to see deer grazing on the side of the road, and I myself have witnessed this many times.
“Judy McShane of Jamison tells me: ‘Over the last two years what was a random problem has now become out of control. Hunters shooting
throughout the night by spotlight on main roads and private property with no consideration for residents who live in our beautiful country town. Worse is the fact that the deer they shoot are beheaded, and the carcass is
left to rot on roadsides, private property, or is tossed in the Goulburn River to float downstream.
“Mim and Fredy Kocher from Healesville tell me: ‘For many years groups of feral deer have come rampaging at our place … They have caused immense damage by debarking trees (causing them to die) stripping all branches they can reach of leaves and trampling young plants. They are looking for a local cull.
“Locals are looking for solutions. I commend the Dixons Creek Landcare Group for its recent initiative, bringing people implementing deer management strategies in other areas together with local landholders to look for local solutions.
“The Cathedral Landcare Group used Maxi-Beast guards to protect trees they planted on National Tree Day. That is more fiddly and definitely more costly, but this is what is needed. We need a solution to the deer problem now,” Ms McLeish said.