Hunters harvest record number of deer

Media release

Monday, 4 September, 2017

The new 2016 deer harvest report has revealed almost 100,000 deer were taken by licensed recreational deer hunters across Victoria.

Produced by the Game Management Authority (GMA) in collaboration with the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, the deer harvest report provides key data based on telephone surveys of licenced deer hunters.

Throughout the survey period, over 1,600 licensed deer hunters were asked a series of questions related to their hunting activity, such as how many deer they harvested, what hunting methods they had used, where they hunted, the number of days they hunted, and the species of deer harvested.

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 3 deer, the highest ever recorded," Mr Hyams 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."

"Stalking was the most preferred hunting method used, accounting for the majority of the harvest, with scent-trailing hounds being the second most productive technique," Mr Hyams said.

"Northern and north-eastern Victoria had the highest numbers of deer harvested during the year with top five towns Dargo, Mansfield, Licola, Jamieson and Myrtleford recording the greatest  number of deer hunting days."

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."

"We recognise that deer do have an impact on the environment and the data obtained from this report helps to inform decisions regarding their management in Victoria."

The Victorian Government's Sustainable Hunting Action Plan supports and guides the game hunting industry's long-term growth, with specific actions relating to improving hunting opportunities, ensuring sustainability, promoting responsible hunting and growing hunting benefits.

In recognising that deer are valued by some sectors of the community and also acknowledging the impacts that they have on biodiversity and agriculture, the government has commenced the development of a statewide deer management strategy. This strategy will guide government agencies on how deer should be managed into the future.

Other measures to improve deer management in the Action Plan include allowing the commercial processing of harvested deer, thereby allowing hunters to maximise the use of their animals and create jobs in regional Victoria. 

The plan will also allow other deer species to be hunted in areas where Sambar Deer can already be hunted.

In 2013, game hunters contributed approximately $439 million per year to the Victorian economy and of that $142.1 million was generated by deer hunters.

For more information on game hunting in Victoria, visit www.gma.vic.gov.au

Media contact: Nick Foster 0417 293 365