Deer population to outnumber people in Tasmania

The growth rate could be expected to be between 13 per cent up to as high as 60 per cent

Tasmania’s wild deer population could soon outnumber residents of the state two-to-one, prompting calls for the animals to be culled.

A submission made to the upper house of Tasmania government this week said the wild deer population in the island state could reach one million by 2050 if the species was not managed better, Xinhua news agency reported.

The submission, led by the Director of Centre of the Environment, University of Tasmania, Ted Lefroy, said the population already covered 30 per cent of the state and had started to impact the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Lefroy said that to implement an appropriate management plan, authorities would need to undertake a full population survey including at what rate the deer were being hunted.

“The numbers we don’t really know are: how many there are — we’ve just gone with the current estimate which is somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 — and the growth rate,” Lefroy said on Friday.

“Based on estimates from overseas studies, the growth rate could be expected to be between 13 per cent up to as high as 60 per cent.”

Lefroy said the numbers used in the submission came from a modeling study undertaken by him and two colleagues.

“The main point of the modelling study was to point out there are three vital statistics and we really don’t know two of them,” he said.

The submission, one of 56 made to Tasmania’s inquiry into the wild deer population, said that cooperation between government agencies, land managers and hunters was key to maintaining the population.

“I think there is a very good possibility that collectively they could arrive at a target population that could satisfy all three, didn’t do too much damage to environment, to agriculture, but maintained a population for hunting,” Lefroy said.

“They are here, I don’t think we are ever going to get rid of them so it’s a case of saying how many can we live with.”


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