HUNTERS and shooters are calling for best practice measures to be considered in a review of the game status of deer.
The NSW Government indicated earlier this month the game status of deer could be removed to manage increasing deer populations. They would effectively be classified as pests.
Concerns about the status review include the potential for inhumane and illegal hunting and baiting.
Deer are currently protected under the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002.
If the game status of deer is removed, it will allow anyone with a firearms licence to shoot them as a feral species on private property under the same classification as pigs, goats, rabbits and foxes.
Hastings Regional Shooting Complex chairman John Tingle, founder of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, said the humane and safe practices of hunters could become a burden for landholders.
"The Shooters Party, and Hunting Complex, is totally opposed to changing deer to feral or pest status because that would require wholesale control conditions and inevitable control by 1080 poison," he said.
"There needs to be amendments so that people have the right knowledge and ammunition to control them.
"We don't want injured animals everywhere and large numbers of deer poached because of this change.
"Deer breed in safe places so it makes sense to allow hunters to start hunting them in state forests again instead.
"There was a very successful program of hunting them in state forests by qualified R licence holders. If that had not been removed there would not be a problem today."
Sodium fluoroacetate, or 1080 toxin, is a slow-acting poison bait used to control of vertebrates in Australia since the 1950s, according to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
There are concerns about wild deer populations around Port Macquarie with multiple serious motor vehicle accidents involving the animals.
They can also cause erosion and soil compaction, strip suburban gardens, damage pasture, contaminate water sources, harm trees and spread diseases to livestock.
NSW Farmers Conservation and Resource Management Committee representative Craig Mitchell said it is vital that controlling deer is recognised as a non-negotiable bio-security duty.
"Unsustainable numbers of any unmanaged species place extreme pressure on landholders, especially when paired with difficult seasonal conditions," he said.
"NSW Farmers have been calling for deer to be recognised alongside other pest animals in the Game Act and for a statewide bio-security control order to be implemented as an immediate measure.
"Shooting is currently the only effective control technique for deer, however current levels of ground shooting are failing to impact on rapidly expanding numbers.
"Further aerial shooting and coordinated landscape scale approaches are urgently required."
Deer are classified as pests in South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The six species in Australia are fallow, red, hog, chital, sambar and rusa deer.
Local populations of deer are currently managed through the Hastings Wild Deer Management Strategy developed by North Coast Local Land Services.
A spokesman for the Minister for Agriculture said the proposed changes to the game status would mean anyone with a firearm licence can shoot deer.
"There are a number of options on the table to manage the state's increasing deer population, including removing the game status of deer," he said.
"The deer population has exploded over the last 10 years and the current policy settings limit the ability of landholders and farmers to effectively manage this species.
"Deer pose a particular problem during drought and this government will do what it can to assist farmers through these incredibly tough times."
Changing the game status of deer will have no material impact on baiting programs, according to the spokesman.
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