SSAA members will have the chance to play their part in a two-year trial of balloted hog deer hunting on Victoria’s Snake Island. The project will be up and running from Monday, February 6, with a group of eight hunters allowed on the island over a spell of five days. The implementation of the ballot and times set for hunting will be overseen by the Game Management Authority (GMA) and Parks Victoria.
The SSAA has been one of the major user groups that the GMA and Parks Victoria has liaised with since the announcement of the initiative by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio in August 2016. Other interests consulted have been the Australian Deer Association, the Snake Island Cattlemen’s Association, licensed tour operators and school groups.
Snake Island is part of the Nooramunga Marine and Coastal Park in South Gippsland. Access is by boat with the closest ramp at Port Welshpool. It is estimated that there are about 500 hog deer on the island.
The Australian Deer Association conducted an education weekend for hunters at Port Welshpool on January 21 and 22, 2017, and each shooter will undertake a obligatory seminar by Parks Victoria and the GMA prior to their hunt. There will be seven hunt blocks held between February and May this year, scheduled to avoid weekends and public holidays. Each hunt opens on Monday at 8am and finishes on Friday at midday. Hunting is not permitted at night.
The ballot for the program has been conducted by the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group and the successful hunters have been notified.
Gerard Delaney, Parks Victoria’s area chief ranger for South Gippsland and Bass, said: “Parks Victoria has been extremely happy with the professionalism of our stakeholders in discussing the detail of this program…We will be reviewing the program after the 2017 hunt and again in 2018 following the completion of the trial and will continue to consult with the various user groups.”
GMA director Simon Toop backed up that statement, outlining his hopes for the project. “Hunters will be well briefed on their responsibilities and obligations, with a particular emphasis on safety,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the selected hunters to enjoy free-ranging hog deer hunting, and they will be wanting to make the most of the experience.”
Hog deer are the smallest of the six species of deer in Australia and although they are a close relative of the chital, bear scant likeness to them. They are similar in size to a sheep.