Cruelty claims refuted

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Cruelty claims refuted

Local authorities have refuted animal cruelty accusations regarding feral deer eradication in the Limestone Coast.

The Limestone Coast Feral Deer Eradication Program has come under fire from hunters, who claim that animals have been left to suffer after not being euthanised instantly.

However, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA have rejected those accusations, issuing a joint statement.

The statement reiterated that feral deer are a declared pest under the Landscape South Australia Act, with land managers are required to destroy all feral deer on their properties.

Under the Act, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board is responsible for ensuring the protection of the environment, primary production and the community from the impacts of feral deer.

“The Limestone Coast Feral Deer Eradication Program supports landholders to meet their responsibilities to destroy feral deer on their properties,” Limestone Coast Landscape Board General Manager Steve Bourne said.

“During the last four years, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board has been open and transparent with the Limestone Coast community, landholders and hunting groups about the Limestone Coast Feral Deer Eradication Program, the strategies and tactics adopted, and the progress of the program to eradicate feral deer.

“The Limestone Coast Feral Deer Eradication Program integrates aerial and ground shooting operations, monitoring, compliance and enforcement.

“Despite the board’s transparency, some hunters have seen fit to repeatedly post online images and stories linking the Limestone Coast Landscape Board General Manager, Mr Steve Bourne, Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) staff, and contractors to accusations of poor practices.”

Mr Bourne said the Limestone Coast Landscape Board has undertaken an investigation into the accusation that a fawn had been shot during a recent aerial cull program and left to die over an extended period of time.

“It was found alive by a hunter, as evidenced in the hunter’s video posted to social media. The hunter patted it and then killed it by cutting its throat,” he said.

“On 29 May 2024, the Limestone Coast Landscape Board engaged an independent veterinary surgeon to undertake an autopsy of the carcase. The autopsy was conducted in accordance with standard veterinary practice by the independent veterinary surgeon (i.e. not by a Government employee) and an autopsy report was provided to the Board and PIRSA.”

According to Mr Bourne, the autopsy found no evidence of any injury from a gunshot wound, the animal was suffering from a long-time healed bone fracture in its right elbow which would have limited its mobility, its stomach contents was full of hay-like material (which is not available anywhere near where the deer was found), damage to the eyes is likely due to predation, and the cause of death was blood loss due to trauma of major blood vessels in the neck with evidence of blood in the airway and lungs.

“No evidence of traumatic injury from a penetrating foreign body (ie. gunshot wound),” he said.

“The Limestone Coast Landscape Board will arrange toxicology tests to determine whether the deer had been drugged.

“We take reports of poor practices in the Limestone Coast’s Feral Deer Eradication Program very seriously. We encourage people to contact us as soon as possible if they have legitimate evidence of an injured deer resulting from a culling operation.

“We are confident in our processes and procedures for shooting operations, which are undertaken in accordance with National Codes of Practice for the humane shooting of feral deer.

“The socio-economic and environmental benefits accruing to the Limestone Coast community from the eradication of feral deer significantly outweigh the benefits of preserving the hobbies of a small number of recreational and trophy hunters.”

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