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Former Greens Leader Says Tasmania Should Shoot Deer From Helicopters

"Helicopter culling is a best available option for Tasmania."

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Former leader of the Australian Greens party Bob Brown is urging the Tasmania government to start shooting wild deer from helicopters in order to save wilderness heritage areas from millions of dollars' worth of damage.

Fallow deer were introduced to Tasmania for game hunting in the 1830s but are now a partly protected species under the Nature Conservation Act and can only be hunted during limited times of the year.Brown argues the feral deer population, which he says has tripled since the 1970s, is currently embarking on a 2 million hectare "comprehensive invasion of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which will lead to the destruction or extinction of unique Tasmanian plant, animals, bird and insect species". In a written submission to the Tasmanian government's Wild Fallow Deer Population inquiry, Brown cites New Zealand's use of poison and helicopter shooting as a successful option to cull feral deer."Helicopter culling and 1080 poisoning proved to be the turnaround point for deer control in New Zealand at its current feral population of some 250,000. As 1080 poisons many wildlife species in Tasmania (there are no native mammals in New Zealand), this is not an option here," he wrote.
Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Fallow deer were introduced to Tasmania for game hunting in the 1830s but are now a partly protected species under the Nature Conservation Act and can only be hunted during limited times of the year.

Brown argues the feral deer population, which he says has tripled since the 1970s, is currently embarking on a 2 million hectare "comprehensive invasion of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area which will lead to the destruction or extinction of unique Tasmanian plant, animals, bird and insect species".

In a written submission to the Tasmanian government's Wild Fallow Deer Population inquiry, Brown cites New Zealand's use of poison and helicopter shooting as a successful option to cull feral deer.

"Helicopter culling and 1080 poisoning proved to be the turnaround point for deer control in New Zealand at its current feral population of some 250,000. As 1080 poisons many wildlife species in Tasmania (there are no native mammals in New Zealand), this is not an option here," he wrote.

"Helicopter culling is a best available option for Tasmania."

Brown also recommends deer farms be banned and goats be controlled.

“The impending ecological catastrophe of fallow deer invading prime forested areas of Tasmanian wilderness warrants urgent action and an independent agency to institute and maintain protection from this threat.”

His aerial culling plan aims to roll back the spread of deer and remove fallow deer from the "state's northwest and south as a matter of urgency".

If the state government doesn't act swiftly, Brown estimates it could cost the state and federal government millions of dollars each year to reverse the damage to the wilderness.

"This invasion can be stopped in 2016 but will be irreversible in 2026."

The feral deer population in Tasmania is estimated to be more than 40,000, and the University of Tasmania says that number could hit more than 1 million by 2050 if nothing is done.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has written to the state government asking for special dispensation to shoot fallow deer in national parks. TFGA president Peter Johnston also wants shooters to be able to kill feral cats."They are two introduced species that if they are causing a problem in national parks, the government should look at opening up [the national park to cull] those feral species so they are removed," he said.The number of permits for the use of 1080 poison on Tasmanian farms has risen by 50% in 2016 to more than 45 as farmers take matters into their own hands.
Herne Lodge / Via hernelodge.com.au

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has written to the state government asking for special dispensation to shoot fallow deer in national parks. TFGA president Peter Johnston also wants shooters to be able to kill feral cats.

"They are two introduced species that if they are causing a problem in national parks, the government should look at opening up [the national park to cull] those feral species so they are removed," he said.

The number of permits for the use of 1080 poison on Tasmanian farms has risen by 50% in 2016 to more than 45 as farmers take matters into their own hands.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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