THE ANIMAL Justice Party has called on Port Stephens Council to abandon plans to cull a herd of deer at Raymond Terrace.
The Newcastle Herald reported on January 1 the council was expected to make a decision in the new year about whether to proceed with the plan. The council had said the growing deer population had lined up with a rising number of motorists reporting near-misses and strikes.
Animal Justice Party Upper House MP Mark Pearson sent an urgent letter to the council this week calling on it not to proceed, saying his office had been contacted by concerned residents opposed to the cull.
A change.org petition against the plan has more than 480 signatures.
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He said deer were "peaceful, quiet creatures" and that "every wild animal deserves a life free from harm".
"I would also like to reiterate that killing wild animals is no longer acceptable to community expectations of humane animal control and remind you that areas rich in unique wildlife are excellent tourist attractions," he said.
Mr Pearson asked the council how many deer were in the area and would be culled; when this would occur; the reasons for the cull; what community consultation had taken place; for the number of road signs warning motorists of deer in the area; the number of collisions in recent years and the council's plan for keeping deer numbers down.
He also suggested humane alternatives to prevent collisions: improved signage; reduced speed limits; wildlife-friendly fencing; community education and the humane trapping and rehoming of deer to a sanctuary.
A spokeswoman for the council said on Thursday it had no further comment to add to information it provided to the Herald on December 30, when it confirmed the final decision would be made in consultation with Hunter Water.
"Council have been aware of an increasing deer population in the Beaton Ave-Irrawang Swamp area," it said at the time.
"Council have been receiving an increasing number of complaints and reports of road-strike and near misses from the community.
"Based on requests to council for the removal of deer from roads or the road reserve, there have been at least five collisions with deer this year . This is an increase from a maximum of one to two per year for the past 10 years."
The council said it and Hunter Water were working with the RSPCA, NSW Police, Local Land Services and a consultant engaged for the control program.
"A range of options for the control of the deer have been considered," it said.
"If the deer control program was to go ahead, it would require extensive planning and risk management including traffic management and a complete safety plan.
"This would be managed by a qualified contractor in consultation with the NSW Police and council. Deer would be removed with meat donated to local zoos to feed animals."
It said the council had "engaged" with residents and would continue to communicate with them this year.
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