According to a recent scientific study, the Tasmanian fallow deer population could exceed 1 million by 2050.
A group of researchers looked at the historical and current population of the introduced fallow deer in the island state of Tasmania, and predict that, without appropriate management, fallow deer will continue to grow and expand it’s range.
Their model assumes that fallow deer are able to survive in almost every habitat type available in Tasmania, based on the adaptable nature of the species in other parts of the world.
The researchers looked at how quickly the deer population might increase under nine different scenarios. When they predicted the likely deer population size in 10 years’ time, assuming the highest credible rate of increase, the result was in excess of 1.4 million animals—even with active management.
Despite being a feral species in Australia, fallow deer are managed as a game animal in Tasmania, with several open seasons spanning four months from late February to late June.
Environmental and crop destruction caused by feral deer is becoming widespread across Australia. The authors of the study note that, despite large gaps in knowledge about the ecology of fallow deer in Tasmania, it is very likely that the current hunting regime in the state will not prevent a potentially dramatic increase in the population. Consequently, there will be more destruction to crops and natural habitats, and increasing conflict regarding deer management.
Both hunters and farmers in Tasmania are keen to see extended open seasons, bigger bag limits and an increase in the area available for deer hunting. The Tasmanian Deer Advisory Committee has recently submitted a proposal to the state government and farmer’s association to achieve exactly this. The president of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Wayne Johnston, is happy to lend his support to the proposal. “We haven’t got a problem with it, because a lot of state forest borders on private land and there is pressure from deer on private land at the moment,” Johnston told reporters recently. “If they can expand and remove some of those deer from that area then we welcome that.”