Hog Deer management strategy
I am pleased to act on government's commitment to deliver this Victorian Hog Deer Management Strategy. This Strategy is designed to provide a framework to guide the future management of Hog Deer in Victoria.
I am aware of the many disparate community views about Hog Deer and I am confident that this Strategy will improve the management of the species as well as facilitating partnerships between hunters, private and public land managers and the broader community.
In addition to directing the management of Hog Deer in Victoria, this Strategy aims to enhance biodiversity through the maintenance of native habitat, harvest management and population control of the species.
This Strategy is another example of the government's commitment to sustainable hunting in Victoria, while ensuring the effective management of an introduced species. The Strategy will operate for five-years before being reviewed in 2014.
Gavin Jennings MLC
Minister for Environment and Climate Change
Table of contents
- Approved terms of reference
Ecology and international status of Hog Deer
- Worldwide distribution and conservation status of Hog Deer
Hog Deer in Victoria
- Introduction to Victoria
- Population size and distribution
- Legal status
- Current management
- Factors limiting Hog Deer populations
- Environmental impacts of Hog Deer
- Agricultural impacts of Hog Deer
- Disease risks
- Research and data collection regarding Hog Deer
- Management of ecologically sustainable Hog Deer populations in Victoria
- Enhancement of native biodiversity
- Private land management
- Community partnerships
- Sustainable, quality hunting opportunities
- Performance goals
- Members of the Hog Deer Management Strategy Subcommittee
- Submissions received
- Common abbreviations
- Key stakeholders
- Distribution and conservation status - Worldwide and Australia
Hog Deer (Axis porcinus porcinus) are a valued social resource and highly prized game species for many stakeholders in Victoria. Historically, management directions for the species have been sympathetic, in part, as a result of their current status internationally. However, in Victoria with the current emphasis on the security of native biodiversity, many stakeholders are not satisfied with the current management regime. In addition, many landowners do not share the same appreciation for the deer or its intrinsic value due to effects the deer may have on primary production.
As a result, the Minister for Environment, requested that the Victorian Hunting Advisory Committee (HAC) develop a management strategy for Hog Deer in Victoria. In August 2005, the HAC established a subcommittee (see Appendix 1) to develop a strategy according to the government's approved Terms of Reference.
Terms of reference
Develop a management strategy for Hog Deer in Victoria that:
- ensures a viable population throughout its current range and that its presence is managed according to land tenure objectives
- provides for sustainable, quality Hog Deer hunting opportunities on areas where the activity is consistent with land reservation status
- considers improvements and efficiencies to current management practices for Hog Deer hunting throughout the current range
- improves hunting opportunities on private land to strengthen relations between landowners and hunters and encourages landowners to provide quality habitat for Hog Deer.
The Minister for Environment and Climate Change approved the draft Strategy in 2008 and released it for public comment. Submissions were received from a range of organisations and individuals (see Appendix 2). Issues have been considered and the Strategy revised where appropriate.
This Strategy provides a high-level framework to guide the future management of Hog Deer in Victoria. This Strategy does not dictate detailed actions, but rather sets direction for the development and documentation of future management actions. It should be referred to when creating management plans for defined areas of public or private land, where Hog Deer occur.
Implementation of the Strategy will improve the management of Hog Deer in Victoria, through a program that enhances and builds on existing management regimes.
The Strategy will operate for a five-year period, before being reviewed in 2014.
The challenge for this Strategy is to effectively manage sustainable populations of an introduced animal in conjunction with conflicting land management objectives. Therefore, the main aim of this Strategy is to provide a framework that gives direction on managing competing stakeholder interests while achieving mutually beneficial outcomes (environmental and economic).
Issues arise in striving to develop a strategy that:
- maintains a sustainable Hog Deer population
- minimises any impacts on biodiversity and agricultural values
- promotes and provides for hunting as an incentive to protect, maintain and restore habitat for Hog Deer and native wildlife
- fosters partnerships between the hunting community, government agencies and other stakeholders.
Implementation of this Strategy will require a cooperative effort between the State Government through the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria and other land management agencies and hunting and conservation organisations, private landowners and the general community.
In accordance with the Terms of Reference, the following areas and objectives were developed in consultation with stakeholders, to direct the Strategy.
1. Research and data collection regarding Hog Deer
- Objective: Collect relevant data for analysis and research to manage Hog Deer populations, their habitat and environmental impacts.
2. Management of Hog Deer
- Objective: Maintain ecologically sustainable Hog Deer populations in Victoria.
3. Enhancement of native biodiversity
- Objective: Minimise impacts and enhance native biodiversity values where Hog Deer occur.
4. Private land management
- Objective: Encourage partnerships between landowners and hunters to provide for quality Hog Deer hunting on private property, economic incentives for wildlife conservation and assistance with reducing impacts of Hog Deer on agriculture.
5. Community partnerships
- Objective: Foster and strengthen relationships between hunters, public and private land managers and the broader community, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
6. Sustainable, quality hunting opportunities
- Objective: Provide for appropriate harvest of Hog Deer in management strategies.
- Objective: Promote and provide for diverse, quality recreational opportunities and experiences on public and, where possible, private land.
Ecology and international status of Hog Deer
Hog Deer are a relatively small deer with mature stags (male) standing at around 65 cm at the shoulder and weighing approximately 45 kg. Hinds (female) stand at around 60 cm and weigh approximately 35 kg. Hog Deer have a uniform yellowish to reddish-brown coat with a slightly darker under body. Some adults may exhibit seasonal variation with pale cream spotting in summer and a dark brown coat in winter. The tail is white underneath and at the tip. Calves have distinctive white spotting at birth, however, this fades with age.
Antlers of mature stags have brow tines rising at an acute angle from the coronet (or burr) and the beam, ending in a two-tined fork. There are usually six tines on mature animals; however, additional tines may be common in older animals. The antlers of mature stags are generally 30-35 cm long.
In its native range, the Hog Deer is associated with major river systems and floodplains. The deer are not generally found in steep or hilly country. As a result, the deer primarily inhabit grassland and riverine forests. In some parts of their native range the deer can be found in coastal areas.
Hog Deer are grazers, feeding on a range of native grasses, sedges, improved pasture and freshwater marsh plants, and alluvial grasslands. When green pick is in short supply, Hog Deer may also graze on saltmarsh grasses and browse on shrubs, such as mangroves.
Hog Deer are generally solitary in habit and do not form herds, however, social groups of up to four individuals have been recorded. Feeding activity normally begins in the late afternoon and continues until early morning. Large numbers of animals may congregate at prime feeding areas. During adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain and/or strong winds, Hog Deer will remain sheltered in areas of dense cover. Some movement is known to occur during the day. Where disturbance is high, Hog Deer may become nocturnal.
Hog Deer rely on a highly developed sense of hearing and smell to avoid predators. When alarmed, Hog Deer may vocalise before retreating to nearby cover.
Hog Deer reproduce irregularly and as such do not conform to a well defined breeding season. This is consistent with other Asiatic deer species such as Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor) and Chital Deer (Axis axis). Irregular breeding provides Hog Deer with the capacity to recover and expand its numbers faster than European deer species (e.g. Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) or Fallow Deer (Dama dama)).
Worldwide distribution and conservation status of Hog Deer
Hog Deer are distributed throughout much of tropical Asia; from Pakistan in the west, across northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, southern Yunnan in China, and Myanmar; and as far east as southern Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos (Boonsong and McNeely 1977).
Two subspecies of Hog Deer are recognised: Axis porcinus porcinus and Axis porcinus annamiticus. A. p. porcinus (the western race) ranges from Pakistan through Nepal and Northern India into Myanmar, while A. p. annamiticus (the eastern race) occurs from Thailand, through Laos, Kampuchea (Cambodia) and Vietnam. Hog Deer have also been reported to exist in Yunnan Province in China, but it is not clear as to which subspecies this population belongs (G. Moore, pers. comm. 2006).
Figure 2 The distribution of Hog Deer in its native range (Re-drawn from Whitehead, 1993. Web document at http://www.ultimateungulate.com).
A small population of Hog Deer was recently re-discovered in Sri Lanka, however, some doubt remains as to whether this population represents a third subspecies or is a translocated population of A. p. porcinus. As Hog Deer do not occur in peninsular India, they are regarded as having been introduced to Sri Lanka from India, either by the Dutch or Portuguese during the 16thcentury, or possibly by the Dutch as late as the 17th or early 18thcentury. In lieu of a taxonomy study, this leads to the general opinion that the Sri Lankan Hog Deer are of the same subspecies as the Indian population (G. Moore, pers. comm. 2006).
While Hog Deer are still present in substantial numbers in some parks throughout India and Nepal, threats to its existence continue due to human activities directly affecting parks or indirectly affecting park boundaries (G. Moore, pers. comm. 2006).
Habitat destruction as a result of increased urbanisation, agriculture and forestry, as well as unsustainable hunting, and the establishment of plantations in grasslands outside protected areas, are cited as the most significant activities negatively impacting on Hog Deer populations (Qureshi 1995).
Formerly more widespread, the range of the Hog Deer included Bangladesh as well, but the species has probably disappeared from the Sundarbans and has not been reported from the tea gardens of the Sylet District since the 1970's (Salter 1984). Further information on the worldwide distribution and conservation status of Hog Deer is included in Appendix 5.
In northern India and Nepal, Hog Deer have benefited from conservation measures implemented for rhinoceros and Swamp Deer (Cervus duvauceli), as these species inhabit similar ecosystems.
The current international Red List Category for Hog Deer Axis. p. porcinus, is Endangered, as assessed in 2008 by Timmins, Duckworth, Samba Kumar, Anwarul Islam, Sagar Baral, Long, and Maxwell, (2009). This follows the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) using the 1996 Red List (considered the world's most comprehensive inventory of global conservation status for flora and fauna).
This listing is based on the conclusion that Hog Deer populations have reduced more than 50% over the last 21 years and are only found in small isolated populations in protected areas. Illegal hunting has been a large contributor to the loss in India. Overall the greatest threat is the fragmentation of habitat. A. p. annamiticus is thought to be extinct in its natural range in Vietnam due to loss of habitat and hunting, and exhibits very low in numbers in Cambodia, due to habitat loss as a result of agricultural expansion.
Hog Deer in Victoria
Introduction to Victoria
Current information suggests that the subspecies A. p. porcinus was introduced into Victoria during the late 1860s, initially from Sri Lanka, later from India, and subsequently released into the wild (G. Moore, pers. comm. 2006). The population is now established in swampy and low-lying coastal margins throughout Gippsland and on some close offshore islands. Small populations are also reported to inhabit coastal areas in south-western Victoria, specifically around Timboon. Moriarty, A (2004) reported that there were several herds of wild Hog Deer located along the coast between Adelaide and Melbourne, as a result of translocation.
In Victoria, Hog Deer populations commonly inhabit coastal shrublands and tea-tree swamps, including Manna Gum, Coast Banksia woodlands and Leptospermum, Melaleuca and Acacia scrub. Freshwater marsh and wet grasslands provide the most favoured and important habitat types available, particularly those areas that provide cover and necessary food resources.
Figure 3 Estuarine Wetland (EVC 10). Prime example of Hog Deer habitat in costal Gippsland. Vegetation is determined by fluctuating salinity and drainage. Photo: A Brumley 2009.
In Victoria, Hog Deer are primarily dependent on grasses and forbs located in fresh water, saline marshes, creeks and rivers, and lake margins for its food supply (Mayze and Moore 1990). Hog Deer are solitary in nature but may congregate on feeding grounds.
In their native range, the species is able to satisfy all of its requirements within one habitat type, whereas in Victoria, a mixture of habitats is necessary in each home range to provide the basic needs of food, water and shelter (Mayze and Moore 1990).
In the temperate climate of Victoria, Hog Deer tend to breed in summer. Calves are most frequently seen in late winter, following an approximate 230 day gestation stage. There is a peak of births between July and September and calves can take advantage of a flush of spring plant growth. Weaning occurs after three or four months. Females may breed after their first year and produce an average 1.2 to 1.4 young per year.
Population size and distribution
The Hog Deer population in Gippsland has been assessed as an established localised population (Forsyth, Duncan, Bomford and Moore 2004). The Victorian population appears, now, to be the only viable wild population occurring outside its native range.
The current population range in Victoria is found in coastal and lowland Gippsland, with animals distributed in the small, isolated populations occurring along the south-eastern coast of Victoria, from Cape Liptrap in the west, to Orbost in the east. Known localised populations within this range are found at: Wilson's Promontory and the off-shore islands of Corner Inlet; the Boole Poole Peninsula (including the Gippsland Lake Coastal Park); the shore of Lake Wellington (including Heart Morass, Clydebank, Dowds Morass and Lake Coleman State Game Reserves, Lake Reeve) and The Lakes National Park (Sperm Whale Head and Rotomah Island) (see Figure 2). Furthermore, groups are said to be seen in the lower reaches of the Avon, Thompson and La Trobe river systems. Anecdotal evidence suggests there are sightings as far east as Mallacoota.
The size of the Victorian population is unknown, however, harvest data indicates that the population appears to be stable as there have been no apparent increases or decreases in numbers taken over many years.
Figure 4. Confirmed records of Hog Deer (depicted by red dots). DSE Atlas of Wildlife 2008.
Hog Deer are listed as wildlife under the Victorian Wildlife Act 1975 (the Act). The species is declared to be "game" by a Governor in Council Order published in the Government Gazette. Hog Deer can only be hunted in accordance with the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2001.
The Act also provides for land owners and managers to remove Hog Deer under damage mitigation permits, should the deer be negatively effecting primary production, agricultural assets, and native biodiversity or as part of a wildlife management plan.
Hog Deer are one of the most actively managed game species in Victoria. However, management actions are restricted to harvest regulation and hunter management. There is currently little direct habitat management, population control or harvesting management to produce quality populations.
Current management activities include:
- a one month open season (April)
- a bag limit restricted to one stag and one hind per hunter per season
- a tagging system to minimise the incidence of illegally taken animals
- the mandatory presentation of harvested animals at established checking stations (data gathered at checking stations (yet to be analysed) could be used in the future to monitor and assist in the management of the species and its habitat)
- hunter returns to monitor hunter success, effort and observation index
- compliance, including hunter education and enforcement
In addition, the State Government continues to:
- assist Para Park (a cooperative game reserve) to achieve sound game management goals
- facilitate balloted hunting on Blond Bay State Game Reserve and Boole Poole Peninsula
Factors limiting Hog Deer populations
Victorian Hog Deer populations are isolated and restricted to fragments of suitable habitat. This poses a risk to the success and genetic integrity of populations, making them vulnerable to catastrophic events, such as fire or disease.
Over-harvesting and the illegal take of animals from some populations could impact negatively on the species or create uneven sex ratios. Native or introduced predators are not considered to prey on Hog Deer at significant levels. Anecdotal evidence suggests that controlled baiting regimes (e.g. for rabbits) may also reduce population numbers of Hog Deer, specifically where the animals occur along the interface of agricultural and forested land.
Environmental impacts of Hog Deer
Hog Deer have behavioural and ecological characteristics, such as antler rubbing and dietary requirements, that can lead to damage to native regeneration. Hog Deer may also compete with native wildlife for food. It is generally accepted that, like all other herbivore species (including introduced species), there is a potential for adverse environmental impacts to occur as a result of high density grazing and browsing pressure in sensitive ecosystems.
There is also the potential for dispersal of native and exotic plants in faecal pellets. Recent research at Wilsons Promontory indicates that more than 70% of seeds potentially dispersed by Hog Deer were from native plants as opposed to exotic plants (this was biased due to the study site). This has not been studied in relation to the interactions with native herbivores. Current studies suggest a net negative effect for the potential of exotic and native seed dispersal and subsequent germination facilitated by Hog Deer (Davis, Forsyth and Coulson 2009). A dietary study of Hog Deer in the same area showed mostly browsing, including shrubs, which was very similar to that of native swamp wallabies (Davis, Coulson and Forsyth 2008).
Large scale alteration to the native landscape as a result of the deer is hard to quantify, as the current Hog Deer range within Victoria has a history of cattle and sheep grazing, in addition to frequent burning (both accidental and intentional).
Agricultural impacts of Hog Deer
There are no defined agricultural impacts from Hog Deer. Based on a study of damage mitigation permits given to landholders to control deer from 2002 to 2007 calendar years, it was noted that there was a very low need to control Hog Deer on agricultural properties (Lindeman and Forsyth 2008). Agricultural impacts such as damage to trees, crops, and fences by Hog Deer were considered insignificant. Anecdotal evidence suggests Hog Deer use runways and are too light to significantly damage infrastructure. Current evidence shows competition for pasture mainly comes from other large deer species and native herbivores.
As Hog Deer populations are small and isolated it is unlikely they would play a significant role in the distribution or persistence of emergency animal diseases. Hence, they are not perceived to pose any major disease risks (Biosecurity Victoria, Department of Primary Industries 2008).
Figure 5 A stag Hog Deer in velvet. Photo: D. Young 2007
To manage the Victorian Hog Deer population within its current range in ways that minimise impacts on biodiversity and agriculture, while providing sustainable, quality hunting opportunities through partnerships between hunters, private and public land managers and the broader community.
1. Research and data collection regarding Hog Deer
The harvest of Hog Deer has been actively managed and monitored for 25 years through the legislative requirement for all harvested deer to be presented at a checking station. This has assisted current management to maintain current populations at perceived sustainable levels. However, there has been little analysis of this data or research regarding the environmental impacts and habitat of Hog Deer.
Figure 6 Bairnsdale Checking Station Operator taking measurement of harvested deer. Photo: A. Brumley 2009
In order to continue the provision of sustainable hunting for future generations, healthy Hog Deer populations (balanced sex ratio, good spread of age classes, reproduction and recruitment) are essential. Ongoing data collection, analysis and research must be conducted to ensure the populations are healthy and sustainable.
Species specific research of Hog Deer (e.g. range and vegetation preference) will assist in the prevention of artificial and undesired range extension. It will also influence the restoration and improvement of the environment and biodiversity values on public and private land.
Objective Collect relevant data for analysis and research to manage Hog Deer populations, their habitat and environmental impacts
Management of Hog Deer
Despite its introduced status, Hog Deer have histrionically benefited from a sympathetic management approach, due to declining populations in its native range. Recognising the continued social value of the Hog Deer and current government policy with regards to the security of native biodiversity, the management of Hog Deer in Victoria must be set in the context of ensuring ecologically sustainable populations and the provision of quality hunting opportunities.
This approach will minimise any impacts on natural values and maximise any positive overlaps with biodiversity conservation. However, where populations present a conflict in achieving land management objectives either on public or private land, mitigation measures should be implemented to address or reduce negative impacts on biodiversity values.
Legislation and policy dictating current management arrangements may need to be reviewed to facilitate future policy direction and reduce burdens on hunters and other stakeholders, were appropriate.
Ecologically sustainable management issues which need to be considered in the context of Hog Deer management in Victoria are:
- habitat fragmentation
- habitat condition
- Hog Deer population health
- Hog Deer impacts on native biodiversity.
These issues will be identified and addressed once more in-depth research has been conducted under the guidance of Objectives 1, 3 and 6 and their respective Strategic Actions.
Objective Maintain ecologically sustainable Hog Deer populations in Victoria
3. Enhancement of native biodiversity
As with other non-native herbivores, it is recognised that Hog Deer may have a negative impact on native vegetation under certain circumstances. Further research will guide appropriate measures required to reduce negative impacts and enhance biodiversity values where Hog Deer occur.
Consistent with contemporary natural resource management philosophies, it is appropriate to address incursions of Hog Deer outsider their current range. Accordingly, the establishment of any populations outside the present range should be discouraged and such populations removed. It is noted that current Victorian legislation (Wildlife Act 1975) prohibits the unauthorised movement or release of Hog Deer in the wild.
In Victoria, it is widely recognised that the release of deer from deer farms is the greatest source of artificial inflation of wild deer populations. Victorian deer farms are regulated in accordance with the Impounding of Livestock Act 1994. Although there is minimal farming of Hog Deer in Victoria, regulations may need to be reviewed in the future, if evidence indicates that current practices are increasing or affecting the current wild Hog Deer range or population.
There are opportunities to improve biodiversity outcomes where Hog Deer are managed. This could take the form of minimising any negative impacts of Hog Deer on significant conservation values, or improving habitats for Hog Deer which may also benefit native wildlife, particularly where habitats are highly modified such as marginal agricultural lands or poorly maintained public land. There are considerable opportunities for hunters, hunting and related organisations to contribute to native conservation and biodiversity on public and private land.
Figure 7 Members from the Australian Deer Association revegetating the Clydebank Morass State Game Reserve. Photo: A. Brumley 13 2007
Objective Minimise impacts and enhance biodiversity values where Hog Deer occur
4. Private land management
Hog Deer are often found at the interface between public and private lands. They prefer quality pastures and water adjoining public areas of bushland, where they can shelter through the day before moving onto pastures to feed between dusk and dawn.
Increasing urbanisation, high demand for hunting opportunities, limited areas of public land for hunting, limited access to private property, habitat fragmentation and the scarcity of Hog Deer provides an economic opportunity for private landholders and the farming community. These stakeholders may capitalise on the increasing demand for quality hunting opportunities and generate a secondary income by managing Hog Deer on their properties and providing access for hunting on private lands.
Areas of private land used by Hog Deer are often marginal for farming. The realisation that managing Hog Deer can result in benefits to biodiversity conservation and provide a supplementary source of income to landowners, was first recognised in 1965 by game biologist and former employee of the then Fisheries and Wildlife Division (now DSE), Max Downes. His concept of managing game species on farmland was demonstrated on the 85 ha Serendip farm property, Victoria.
Established over forty years ago on Sunday Island (1620 ha), Para Park Cooperative Game Reserve Limited provides an example of a property based approach to game management. Aimed at ensuring sustainable hunting opportunities and quality populations of Hog Deer, the project delivers benefits to hunters and achieves positive biodiversity and conservation outcomes. This is achieved by harnessing volunteer conservation works of hunters and hunting organisations in habitat management in order to provide quality hunting opportunities on the Island.
There is potential to implement property based game management (PBGM) frameworks to manage Hog Deer and hunting on private lands in Victoria. PBGM plans are property-specific, documents outlining how game species and their habitats will be managed on an individual property or group of properties. PBGM plans are a non-binding partnership arrangement between landowners and hunters designed to deliver benefits to both parties.
Landowners may derive an income or in-kind 'payment' from a partnership with hunters (eg. assistance in controlling pest animals, poaching patrols, fencing etc.) while providing access to improved hunting opportunities. In addition, broader biodiversity benefits may be gained by increasing habitat for Hog Deer with native vegetation plantings. An extension of this outcome could include factors such as increasing native vegetation for animal cover and re-establishing wetlands to facilitate preferred feeding opportunities. This enhances native biodiversity values and provides habitat for a range of native species. Hunters can also assist landowners to reduce Hog Deer if it is shown that the deer are competing with stock or damaging crops. The PBGM program is just one tool to assist in property level management.
Similar PBGM approaches have been successfully adopted in Tasmania, southeast South Australia, Queensland and Sunday Island in Victoria. Benefits in population management of deer and pest animals already occur from hunters contributing to land management in Victoria.
Key elements for success:
- delivery and understanding of the concept of PBGM principles to landowners
- facilitation of agreements between landowners and hunters
- land management assistance, volunteer and conservation efforts of hunters, hunting and related organisations
- maintenance or improvement of a native habitat mosaic occurring on differing land tenures, through the current range of Hog Deer
- social and economic benefits integrated with environmental benefits.
Objective Encourage partnerships between landowners and hunters to provide for quality Hog Deer hunting on private property, economic incentives for wildlife conservation and assistance with reducing impacts of Hog Deer on agriculture
5. Community partnerships
It is important that effective communication exists between stakeholders, increasing community awareness and understanding of the benefits of Hog Deer management to landowners/managers, hunting and conservation groups. This will be facilitated by involving stakeholders and the wider community in educational activities, workshops and pilot programs, providing them with the opportunity to be better informed and contribute to the decision-making process. This process will enhance stakeholder and broader community support for the Strategy, particularly in the delivery of targetted actions.
Education programs for stakeholders work best when key parties collaborate to maximise efficiencies and share resources, knowledge and expertise. The result is greater acceptance by the community and improved relations between government, government agencies and the wider community.
A cooperative effort is critical to the Strategy delivering its objectives successfully.
Objective Foster and strengthen relationships between hunters, public and private land managers and the broader community, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes
6. Sustainable, quality hunting opportunities
Sustainable hunting opportunities
The consumptive use of wildlife is consistent with established conservation and management principles applied to the sustainable utilisation of flora and fauna around the world. Sustainable management aims to meet the needs of people today, while providing for future generations. Recreational hunting can assist in the management of healthy Hog Deer populations (population size, balanced sex ratio, good spread of age classes, reproduction and recruitment).
Recreational hunting is a legitimate form of wildlife utilisation in Victoria and is provided for under the Wildlife Act 1975. Appropriate management tools must be in place to ensure hunting remains sustainable and meets the needs of a variety of stakeholders interested in Hog Deer. Hog Deer management focuses on harvest management (e.g. season and bag limits) collection of data and enforcement of regulations. This enables hunting to occur while maintaining Hog Deer populations (e.g. controlling the take of stags).
Major challenges include the maintenance of an adequate and healthy population in conjunction with quality hunting opportunities and positive biodiversity outcomes.
Objective Provide for appropriate harvest of Hog Deer in management strategies
Quality hunting opportunities
Approximately 800 pairs of Hog Deer tags are allocated to hunters each year, with 75% of hunters entering the field to hunt. However, the rate of success for harvesting Hog Deer on public land is low (approximately one in nine hunters are successful), due to a variety of reasons such as:
- hunter competition
- disturbance of Hog Deer populations and conflict with other stakeholders (i.e. duck hunters)
- low deer densities
- short hunting season
- access to available public land containing Hog Deer
- inherent desire for hunters to harvest stags (selective hunting).
Hog Deer are harvested on State Game Reserves or other areas of Crown Land (where Hog Deer hunting is permitted), private property or via a balloted system on public land. Further hunting opportunities may exist on other unidentified land tenures and other sites may be considered for further balloted hunts. In addition, hunters may be used to meet land management objectives by facilitating research and managing populations through controlled harvesting.
The quality of hunting can be measured in a number of ways, including the availability of hunting opportunities, the quality of the experience (enjoyment of the environment, access to facilities, quality of animals hunted (physical condition), safety while hunting etc.) and the likelihood of success.
It is desirable that hunters have a range of hunting opportunities according to their preference and circumstance. For some, the challenge is to match their hunting skills on Hog Deer rather than actually harvesting an animal. Other hunters place more importance on taking an animal for food, while, for others, the size of a stag's antlers may rate more highly. Whatever the reason, it is important to maintain a range of hunting opportunities on public and private land.
Key elements for the success include:
- hunter education/information
- public safety
- management of multi-use areas
- provision of a broad range of hunting opportunities.
Objective Promote and provide for diverse, quality recreational opportunities and experiences on public and, where possible, private land
7. Performance goals
In order to asses the success of this Hog Deer Management Strategy and evaluate the implemented actions, active monitoring of outcomes based on a variety of performance goals is required.
- a healthy population of Hog Deer
- maintenance of current Hog Deer population within its traditional range
- maintenance of biodiversity values where Hog Deer occur
- the restoration of native vegetation and habitat for Hog Deer (and indirectly native wildlife) on suitable public land
- protection to agricultural ventures
- uptake by private land owners of the property based game management program
- hunter satisfaction
- increase level of stakeholder engagement with existing and new partners including non government groups.
APPENDIX 1: Members of the Hog Deer Management Strategy Subcommittee
- Sebastian Ziccone (Chairman): Holds a Masters Degree in Physiology and is currently involved with the oversight and management of research in obstetrics at a major teaching hospital. Sebastian was the immediate past President of the SSAA (Vic.) and has extensive experience in administration of shooting and hunting organisations and the management of personnel and departments.
- Otto Ruf: Recently deceased. Thirty years involvement in policy development at Branch, State and National levels with the Australian Deer Association Inc. Otto had over fifty years hunting experience worldwide, including Germany, Australia, Africa, Hungary, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Mongolia.
- Darrell Gascoyne: Former member of the Victorian Hunting Advisory Committee for five years, deer hunter for over fifteen years, background in business management and compliance. Darrell has held former executive positions in the ADA at local, State and National levels.
- Helen Dixon: Holds a Bachelor Degree in Applied Sciences, majoring in biological resources management. Helen is currently the Chief Ranger, West Gippsland District, Parks Victoria and has over eighteen years experience with a strong background in environmental management, strategy and management plan development.
- Simon Toop: Holds a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree, Honours Degree in Biological and Chemical Sciences and an Executive Masters degree in Public Administration. Simon worked in the Department of Sustainability and Environment Game Management Unit for six years, five of these years as Project Leader. Simon was the Manager of the Flora and Fauna Utilisation and Management section for three years, which included Game Management and currently is the Director, Major Projects and Environmental Approvals, DSE.
- Charlie Franken: Manager, Flora & Fauna Utilisation and Management, DSE Gippsland. Charlie has over 27 years experience in wildlife compliance and management and is a member of the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group and coordinator of the ballot since 1994.
- David Young: Thirty-three years of involvement in Hog Deer management projects. David has been involved in projects conducted at Snake Island and Sunday Island and has been the Co-ordinator and Secretary of Blond Bay and Boole Poole balloted hunting. David was a Hog Deer Checking Station Operator on behalf of DSE for ten years. He is the member of the Sunday Island Game Management Panel and acts as the hunt master of over 100 hunter members. He is also the Co-ordinator of the Sunday Island Junior Hunter Program.
APPENDIX 2: Submissions received during 2008 allotted period, in response to the draft release of the Hog Deer Management Strategy.
APPENDIX 3: Common abbreviations
DSE - The Department of Sustainability and Environment
PV - Parks Victoria
HAC - The Victorian Hunting Advisory Committee
PBGM - Property Based Game Management
APPENDIX 4: Key stakeholders
- Department of Sustainability and Environment
- Department of Primary Industries
- Parks Victoria
- Victorian Hunting Advisory Committee
- hunting organisations
- private landowners
APPENDIX 5: Distribution and conservation status of Hog Deer- Worldwide and Australia
APPENDIX 6: Bibliography
An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet. Axis Porcinus Hog Deer. (web document at http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Axis_porcinus.html)
Boonsong, L. and McNeely, J.A. 1977. Mammals of Thailand. Kuruspha Ladprao Press, Bankog, Thailand. Cited in Deer: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan 1998. Compiled by C. Wemmer and the IUCN/SSC Deer Specialist Group. IUCN, Switzerland.
Biosecurity Victoria, Department of Primary Industries 2008. Submission on draft Victorian Hog Deer Management Strategy.
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