QUESTION ON 19 JUNE 2019:
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:43): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Environment and Water on the topic of the safety of landowners and their families and stock during deer culling.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I have recently been informed by constituents of a disturbing and dangerous practice that is being used to cull deer in the Second Valley-Yankalilla region. Concerns have been raised with me that the extensive cull program being funded and run by PIRSA, DEW and ForestrySA has not been properly consulted on or transparently conducted in 2018. Landowners have also been approached by shooting contractors who said they were employed by the department and demanding exclusive access to properties to shoot deer, and were told that under the law they had no choice but to comply.
Crop farmers have reported that their properties have been bombarded with live bullets from helicopters in the early hours of the morning, with no proper warning and where consultation had not been appropriately undertaken. Indeed, there was an opt-in option, yet even properties that had not opted in had shootings occur on their land. Advance notice of the cull was not received, and some farmers were actually out in their paddocks when the shooting started.
From the letter I received:
The helicopter still came over and proceeded to shoot animals, namely deer, chasing them through their properties at low height, shooting at them and leaving them dying or wounded in their paddocks. The friend then had a need to finish off dying animals, with their gut hanging out of gaping abdominal wounds, hobbling around the hill side, and clear/bury the bodies left massacred in our paddocks.
After hearing what happened, several other owners went out and found dozens of slaughtered deer the next day also after surveying their own blocks—all of whom had livestock and didn’t agree to the shoot. This same friend had wounded animals required to be put down the last time the gov cull shooting happened also. There was no warning of this as they said no to the shoot—and several farmers were out in their paddocks whilst bullets started flying! Yet there was no repercussions.
My questions are:
1. What measures will the Marshall government take to make sure that those landowners who opt out from these culls are, in fact, safe on their own properties?
2. Will the minister investigate this complaint and report to the parliament?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for her detailed questions. She has raised a number of issues that relate to safety and feral species but also animal welfare issues, which I undertake to take back to the Minister for Environment and seek to get a response.
RESPONSE ON 23 JUNE 2019:
In reply to the Hon. T.A. FRANKS (19 June 2019).
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The Minister for Environment and Water and the Department for Environment and Water has advised:
1. On 30 April and 1 May 2018, the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) conducted an aerial shooting operation (the operation) in the southern Fleurieu region for the purposes of deer culling.
I am advised that prior to conducting the operation, landowners were given an opportunity to elect to participate and shortly before it commenced, DEW undertook a neighbour notification process via Australia Post. A phone call, letter or email was sent to all properties that directly adjoin the control area, advising them of the upcoming operation, using contact information extracted from the Land Titles office using ArcGIS. This notification provided landowners with an opportunity to contact DEW with questions or concerns about the proposed operation.
As the member is aware, an error occurred in relation to this operation, namely shooting occurred on a property where the landowner had not elected to participate in the operation. I am advised that only one landowner was affected by this error. Upon receiving notification of the error, DEW immediately ceased all aerial shooting operations and commenced an investigation into the incident.
I am advised that following that investigation, DEW has provided further training to relevant staff involved with the planning phase of aerial shooting operations and have also implemented a number of additional requirements to strengthen existing protocols, to prevent the reoccurrence of this error.
I am advised that one of the additional requirements is to apply a more stringent verification process, to confirm that landowners who have elected to participate in the operation have been accurately identified. Additional staff are now used to provide multiple reviews of the control area prior to the operation. I am advised that all landowner participants in the aerial shooting operation must now be contacted within 72 hours of the scheduled clearance occurring.
2. Please refer to response provided in question 1.