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By Derek Schlennstedt

 Yarra Ranges Council was one of four outer eastern councils who wrote to premier Daniel Andrews to ask the government to tackle the burgeoning deer problem.

On Friday, 5 October Yarra Ranges Council, Manningham, Cardinia and Nillumbik Council all sent a letter pleading for the state government to help tackle the problem, which they argued was hurting agricultural businesses, and was putting lives at risk.

“As they encroach further into peri-urban and urban areas, pest deer pose a significant and growing risk to people’s safety, to the environment and to agriculture,” the letter states.

“With this encroachment, the more difficult and expensive pest deer control becomes.”

“We are writing to seek State Government action and resources to manage pest deer in Melbourne’s peri-urban areas, such as Manningham, Nillumbik, Cardinia and Yarra Ranges.”

The letter stated that State government needs to declare deer as a pest, deliver an effective Victorian Deer Management Strategy (VDMS) and facilitate the reduction of the deer population, particularly in peri-urban areas.

Deer numbers have exploded in Victoria since the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and the animals are increasingly invading Areas of the Yarra Ranges, causing car crashes and environmental damage.

The government released a draft deer management strategy in the past month, which includes opening up 90,000 hectares of the Alpine National Park to deer hunting.

Yarra Ranges Council Director of Environment and Engineering Mark Varmalis said that “their rapid population growth has turned them into a significant pest affecting the natural environment, the economy and people’s safety particularly on roads.”

“In the Yarra Ranges there is evidence of the deer population affecting national parks, farms, and infrastructure,” Mr Varmalis said.

Deer are classified as pests across most of Australia, except NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, where they are protected under each state’s Wildlife Act to preserve deer as a resource for recreational hunting.

Mr Varmalis said that “declaring deer as a pest will assist in reducing their numbers and will alleviate the high economic loss they cause to agriculture, the environment and infrastructure.”

“Effective deer control requires a strategic and collaborative approach from all land holders, including agencies, private land holders, Yarra Ranges Council and surrounding local government areas.”

“We hope the strategy will achieve increased awareness and understanding in the community about feral deer and pest animal management through monitoring, evaluation and planning.”

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