Thursday 19 March 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Feral Deer - Meat Production
Mr FINCH to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
- Is the Government considering allowing wild deer to be processed commercially for meat, given the overpopulation of feral deer and the problem they pose for farmers?
- Is the Government aware that the present ban on processing wild deer for meat results in many thousands of wild deer shot to protect farm crops simply being left to rot?
- Given large-scale markets for venison, which now have to be supplied from other states, what is the argument against processing Tasmanian feral deer for food?
Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for his question.
The Government is implementing in full its comprehensive response to the 2017 Legislative Council inquiry into the wild fallow deer population in Tasmania.
Our policy on wild deer is clear and balanced, and has been publicly available since 2017; it is advised by the new Tasmanian Game Council, chaired by former MLC Greg Hall.
Wild fallow deer are not classified as feral animals in Tasmania. Rather, they are partially protected wildlife under the Nature Conservation Act 2002. The Government's focus is on maintaining a sensible balance between managing the impact of deer on our important primary industries and natural environment and maintaining a deer herd as a traditional hunting resource.
The Government recognises that farmers, foresters and community members have expressed the desire to use deer taken under crop protection permits for commercial purposes. The Government's policy is clear in this regard. We acknowledge there is genuine interest and potential in developing value-added and branded wild deer products. We are committed to evaluating the feasibility of a trial of deer farmers and landholders to develop value-added commercial wild deer products, and are progressing this in collaboration with the Tasmanian Game Council.
This approach considers the issues raised during the Legislative Council inquiry regarding potential commercialisation, including impacts on deer farmers and associated downstream jobs, quality control of wild product, food health and safety, impact on recreational hunting, and arrangements between landholders and hunters, law enforcement risks and regulating product in supply chains.
Farmed or wild shot animals must be processed in a manner that meets the requirements of the Primary Produce Safety Act 2011, and the Food Act 2003. Advice from Game Services Tasmania is that information provided by landholders and hunters suggests the carcasses of almost all wild fallow deer shot under crop protection permits are utilised either for human consumption or pet food.