20 May 2019

No sure-fire solution for rampant deer

| John Thistleton
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Red Deer Photo: Peter Tremain (Invasive Animals image).

Red Deer. Photo: Peter Tremain (Invasive Animals image).

Professional shooter Rob Gallina has killed 370 deer in one outing while aerial culling over the Monaro district. Generally he works through the night for farmers shooting deer with .243 and .308-calibre rifles. On the ground one night, he shot 68 deer.

Mr Gallina says numbers have exploded in Canberra. He says government agencies desperate to cull rampant feral deer numbers in southern NSW could resort to aerial baiting with 1080 poison. He describes this as brutal, cruel and likely to wipe out many native animals. Comprising of sodium fluoroacetate, 1080 (pronounced ten eighty) is an odourless, tasteless white powder that is diluted with water to concentrations specific for the species being targeted.

Mr Gallina says a multi-million-dollar baiting proposal was put forward for the Riverina and Monaro regions, but the professional shooting industry had put forward an alternative cheaper scheme. He formed a company some years ago, Australian Feral Animal Control and Management Services, and shoots and traps deer, kangaroos, pigs, rabbits and foxes.

Rob Gallina (left) believes shooting is a more humane way of culling deer than poisoning them.

Rob Gallina (left) believes shooting is a more humane way of culling deer than poisoning them. Photo: Supplied.

“The deer program we have proposed is about $6 million, to have 30 shooters out there in the bush every single day helping farmers, getting into national parks, culling back numbers, not just for deer – all feral species in general,” Mr Gallina says.

“It is a lot more cost effective, less painful, more ethical. Why would you contemplate spending two to three times the money when you can have professionals do it, and we can harvest and use the meat?”

He says bush and farm land from the Southern Highlands, throughout the ACT region, Kosciuszko and into Victoria are literally full of deer.

“We have done a lot of culling around Canberra, we have seen 30 to 70 deer in a mob,” Mr Gallina says.

Last year the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions formed Australia’s largest deer management research collaboration involving five state and territory governments, three local councils, three universities, and three private environmental groups. Participants will spend about $9 million in coming years developing best practice management tool kits for the problem.

Land managers have used 1080 for wild dogs in devices known as Canid Pest Ejectors that lodge the bait in the dog’s throat. In New Zealand, 1080 is used to control deer numbers. NSW Department of Primary Industries says it did not have any proposals for the use of 1080 to control deer.

On its Pestsmart website, Invasive Animals says 1080 is the most efficient, humane and species-specific pesticide available for declared pest animal control in Australia.

Mr Gallina says authorities are at a loss as to how to tackle deer numbers.

“A lot of people talk about fixing it in politics, but no one actually does anything about it. A lot of the funding goes on red tape,” he says.

Mr Gallina, a professional shooter for 20 years, says fallow, chital and red deer, and the odd sambar deer breed in national parks and state forests.

Two deer butt heads. Photo: Daryl Panther. (Invasive Animals image).

Two deer butt heads. Photo: Daryl Panther. (Invasive Animals image).

They damage crops, vineyards, orchards, feedlots, menace farmers and attack livestock. “The stags are piercing livestock with their horns. These animals become territorial over their herds, they don’t like anything near them,” he says.

Eastern grey kangaroos are in bigger numbers in the ACT than many people believe, and are a wasted resource, Mr Gallina says. Kangaroos he shoots elsewhere are sold to processors, and he has hosted chefs on shooting trips.

“Farmers are now allowed to use the meat, we take people out in the bush, we show them the ethical way we do things, the next day we butcher the animals, show people how to cook them. I had a celebrity come out, he said he had one of the best meals he has ever eaten. We have had chefs come out to Australia and they say when can we get this on the menu?”

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Also, Rob Gallina got booted off all the country he had access to because he was supposed to be culling deer, but instead decided to use other peoples property to run a little side business of taking randoms trophy hunting. 🙂

Not exactly who we want representing professional shooters.

As somebody who has a personal involvement in this area, I can tell you there has been a lot of dodgy goings on behind the scenes by Government agencies.

The fact is that on the Monaro, just a few professional shooters are doing a great job of controlling deer numbers. Just go ask the actual land holders how well. So well in fact, that millions of dollars in budget and grants has been taken away from the DPI and other organisations for programs that have been deemed no longer necessary. Has lead to some direct harassment of some contract shooters too.

Pro shooters are making good money on deer and doing an excellent job of cutting down the numbers. When the chiller boxes first opened back up last year we were seeing mobs of fallow of well over 100 in a single paddock. In just that short amount of time (around 8 or 9 months), we are lucky to see more than 20 or 30 in a mob. Putting 200 or more deer in the chiller a week, every week, is seeing a huge reduction in numbers. This is currently costing the government precisely nothing, while keeping people employed.

A $6 million program handed over to this bloke is not necessary. Almost all the farm land on the Monaro is currently tied up by professional shooters already. Something needs to be done in National Parks, though unless you are spotlighting in there, it will be ineffective. I don’t see any likelihood of spotlighting being allowed in National Parks though.

Who can kill Bambi? Anyone?

More to the point, why the increase?

Any why dont we tap into what NZ has done with there deer numbers?

rationalobserver2:30 pm 26 May 21

Read “The deer wars”. Australia is making all the same mistakes that NZ did.

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