ADA leading the way in deer

The South-East Branch of the Australian Deer Association was formed in 1974 in Naracoorte, by locals with a keen interest in SA’s wild fallow deer which were released in this area in the mid-1800s by the former Victorian Acclimatisation Society.

The SE Branch in 2014 celebrated its 40th Anniversary with a function for 115 guests at the Naracoorte Town Hall, and was back at the same venue last weekend for a meeting and in-depth hunter education day.

Again well over 100 members attended, with the aim of this session to bring old and new hunters alike up to speed on firearms laws and legislation, deer butchery and meat preparation, ethics and respect for other land-users, and many other related topics.

The ADA today is proud to boast some 380 members locally, from all walks of life including tradespeople, policemen, doctors, armed forces, and farmers; many multi- general families are involved including a steady growth in women and juniors.

Nation-wide, the ADA has over 5000 members across 27 branches, with all states and territories represented. SE Communications Officer Tim Blackwell says that the Branch oversees extensive deer control operations and that their record speaks for itself.

“Over the past decade, dedicated SE Branch members have removed more than 8,000 deer from both private and public land across the SE, over 70% of which are breeding females.

“And most importantly, this has been achieved at zero cost to the public or landowners, and with an enviable 100% safety record.

“Every one of these deer is recovered and utilised, not left to rot like in other control efforts. Members come from Adelaide, Melbourne, the Riverland, and just about everywhere in between, injecting valuable funds into the South East economy.”

The SE Branch is looking to the future and is proud of the professionalism of its operations, which these days includes a custom-built website that manages the day-to-day operations of their deer control program, and offers fantastic transparency and reporting capabilities to both the Branch Executive and Land Managers alike.

“These days we have written control agreements to numerous properties throughout the South-East, where we have much to offer Land Managers” Mr Blackwell said.

“To keep numbers in check, all members must harvest female breeding deer annually before being permitted to hunt for antlered male deer.

“Throughout the year, we hold on-farm working bees, are involved with native fauna and flora conservation projects, and can coordinate special deer control operations during sensitive times such as drought or for crop damage mitigation.”

ADA strongly supports efforts by police and landowners to stamp out illegal hunting and trespassing; all of our members must abide by the Association’s Code of Conduct, and any members breaching this face suspension or expulsion.

“Our hunters have a visible presence in the field by wearing blaze orange during hunting activities and this presence has proven a real deterrent to illegal hunters,” Mr Blackwell said.

SE Branch hunters, as financial members of ADA, carry full liability insurance during all field activities, and all hunters must meet our eligibility and firearm proficiency guidelines before taking part, explains Mr Blackwell.

“We are proud of our record and are not willing to see it jeopardized.

“We offer our members all sorts of functions in addition to the hunting itself, such as hunter education, working bees, raffles, social functions and our annual Branch dinner.”

Along with assisting both hunters and landowners alike, SE ADA are landowners themselves, owning 2000 acres of pristine heritage bushland in the upper SE.

Here they hold meetings, hunts, and an annual junior hunt, tutoring hunters aged 14-18 from all over Australia.

This bushland is the home of a vast array of flora and fauna and the Branch is involved in conservation projects, their member’s efforts even attracting Government funding from the Federal ‘Bush-Bids’ program.

The area is home to a healthy population of the endangered Mallee Fowl, and members have GPS marked nesting sites so they can be protected from deer and native wildlife alike.

Baiting programs for foxes and rabbits are carried out annually to further protect our native environment.

At a state level, ADA SA in 2014 signed an important Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, which will pave the way to deer control operations taking place within DEWNR controlled parks.

”This is a great initiative for the State offering safely-run deer reduction programs with a proven track-record at no cost to the taxpayer,” Mr Blackwell said.

For more information on ADA, whether you are interested in learning more about deer hunting or whether you are a landowner with deer problems, you can go to www.austdeer.com.au to find out more or feel free to contact the South East Branch directly at southeast.comms@austdeer.asn.au.