Almost 100,000 deer were harvested by hunters across Victoria last year, the latest Game Management Authority (GMA) report reveals.
GMA Chief Executive Officer Greg Hyams said the report found the 2016 deer hunting season was the largest on record.
“Surveys showed each licensed deer hunter hunted on approximately 6.6 days in 2016, or almost 208,000 hunter days in total, with an average seasonal harvest of around three deer, the highest ever recorded,” he said.
“The most commonly harvested species in 2016 was Sambar deer, with an estimated total harvest of 80,875, followed next by Fallow deer, with an estimated 15,059. In total, an estimated 97,776 deer of all species were recreationally harvested during the 2016 calendar year.”
Mr Hyams said the increasing harvest is likely due to the increasing distribution and abundance of deer as well as greater numbers of deer hunters in Victoria.
“Of the 51,000 licensed game hunters in Victoria, almost 35,500 or 70 per cent are endorsed to hunt deer,” he said. “There was a bias towards female deer being harvested which suggests that deer are becoming sought after for their table qualities.”
Hunters regularly cop criticism for targeting only trophy deer. However, SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird said the data clearly showed that criticism was unfounded and incorrect.
“Hunters have always hunted females for meat and will continue to do so,” he said. “Hunters tend to not target females in areas where access is difficult or restricted and the meat cannot be reasonably recovered. Improved access will encourage hunters to target females in those more remote areas as they would be able to utilise the meat.”
SSAA Victoria will continue to work with GMA on deer-related matters.