Jun 20 2008 by ATAAC
Hunters say the highly prized venison could be used to feed needy families or Melbourne Zoo's carnivores.
Animal activists claim the cull shows poor management of wild animal populations.
Melbourne Water plans to kill the deer over the next year, arguing their growing numbers in the Yarra Valley catchment area threatens Melbourne's water quality.
Melbourne water spokesman Andrew McGinnes said accredited shooters would be used to cull 400 from a population of about 1000 animals.
"Melbourne Water has some of the purest drinking water in the world, and Melbourne Water's job is to keep it that way," Mr McGinnes said.
"To maintain our high-quality water supply and minimise health risks, it is not desirable to have
large populations of large animals in close proximity to water storages."
Strict standards governing the use of game meat made it necessary to bury the carcasses rather than use the meat, he said.
But Australian Deer Association Victorian president Max Rheese said his members had offered to cleanly shoot the deer and then use their carcasses.
"In Victoria, you can eat what you shoot, but you can't sell it," Mr Rheese said. "So by shooting the deer themselves, hunters would be able to remove the animal and then use it.
"This isn't a case of greedy shooters wanting a free feed. We have hunting 365 days of a year with no bag limit.
"Even if we don't get to keep the meat, we would argue that it should be given to Melbourne's zoos to help feed their animals."
The cull represents about 100,000 tonnes of prized venison that will go to waste, Mr Rheese said.
He said the ADA did not oppose the cull and had been trying to encourage the Government to manage growing deer numbers for years.
"This is the single biggest cull undertaken in Victoria and is an indictment on the management practices of deer in this state.
"It is a disgraceful and appalling waste of a wildlife resource that is valued by 16,000 deer hunters."
Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes lamented the planned cull.
"Lethal management has become the normal way of dealing with animal populations that have been allowed to increase to dramatic and unsustainable levels," Ms Oogjes said.
"Authorities responsible for these areas never intervene at an appropriate stage but always after the event.
"It just shows a complete lack of proper management of animals, and of course it is the animals who suffer the lethal consequence of this type of mismanagement.
"Populations of deer species in the US are controlled by fertility measures, and it's not pie-in-the-sky stuff.
"The recent kangaroo cull in Canberra is another appalling example of a lack of proper animal population management over many, many decades."