A Framework for Developing a Community-based Deer Management Program

Author

Michelle Kent

Introduction

This Framework, which is based on the experience and knowledge gained through the Harrietville Living with Deer project, is for use by land managers and communities wanting to develop a community response to deer impacts in a Victorian community.

A significant expansion of deer populations has been observed in eastern Victoria over the past decade. Increased impacts of deer on productivity, infrastructure, the environment, the safety of road users, and incidences of illegal hunting have also proliferated. Many communities are becoming increasingly concerned and frustrated, including the town of Harrietville in northeast Victoria.

Harrietville is a small town located in a narrow valley and surrounded by public land. Community members have identified the management of deer and their impacts as a priority issue. Town residents are a mix of retirees and families, mainly engaged in the tourism industry or employed in the nearby town of Bright. There are a handful of small-scale agricultural producers adjacent to the town boundary and a high number of absentee landowners. A number of properties in Harrietville are landscaped or bush life]style blocks and most residents would say that the quiet rural and natural amenity of the town is a key reason as to why they live there.

The Living with Deer project was developed in 2017 and aimed to enable the Harrietville community to identify a set of actions to reduce impacts of deer on the community. The project was delivered by the Harrietville Community Forum, in partnership with public land managers Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, and the North East Catchment Management Authority. Project outputs are contained in two other key documents . Final Report: Living with Deer in Harrietville, and in a Community Action Statement . Living with deer: Community and Agencies Working Together. The first year of the project was a journey that changed the thinking of those involved from ‘we (or you!) must do something about the deer in town’ to ‘how can we live with the deer in town’. It became clear that the project was not bound by a discrete timeframe, but would be ongoing, changing through time as perceptions of deer in the community change.

We need to learn to live with deer. Since the beginning of the Living with Deer project in Harrietville the population and associated impacts of deer have, again, notably increased. There are steps that communities can take to identify impacts and possible solutions in order to adapt to and mitigate impacts. The Framework identifies a simple process to help communities work through identifying what can be done to adapt to and mitigate impacts of deer. Throughout the Framework examples from Living with Deer are referred to and used to illustrate the process to undertake to develop a community-based approach to managing the impacts of deer.

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