WIMMERA leaders are calling for the state government to "get over the Bambi factor" and start culling feral deer, as pest numbers increase in the region.
Laharum resident and Friends of Grampians Gariwerd secretary Bill Gardner is one of many environmental groups that has signed an open letter to the government, calling for action.
Mr Gardner said deer were a big issue, especially in the Grampians National Park.
"They seem to becoming more widespread, despite the efforts that Parks Victoria has been making to try to control them," he said.
"The stags in particular smash down trees - an area I was in about three weeks ago looked more like a farm than a national park."
Mr Gardner said culling deer was the best option.
"People need to get over the Bambi factor - I think politicians are scared to act because of that," he said.
"Deer are feral animals and are doing harm to the park.
"Parks Victoria staff are too frightened to blow them away because tourists think they are Bambi, but they are in the same league as feral cats and foxes.
"There shouldn't be any hesitation to act and take a more robust attitude - we need to get over the fear of backlash.
"There is nothing nice about killing animals, but it has to be done and it should be done humanly and quickly."
Mr Gardner said the park needed to be a priority.
"It's a national park not a grazing paddock," he said.
The open letter was signed by more than 90 Landcare organisations, leading ecologists, agricultural groups and a range of other affected organisations and groups from across the state.
Victorian National Parks Association's Phil Ingamells said deer must not longer be listed as a protected game species.
"Deer are also a serious pest on our farms, especially orchards and vineyards, and an increasing risk on our roads," he said.
"There are around one million deer in Victoria, and that population will be increasing at the rate of around 30 per cent each year."
West Wimmera councillor Trevor Domaschenz said deer numbers were increasing near Edenhope. "We've had virtually no rain here for five months so all animals are on the side of the roads chasing a green pick," he said.
"Deer are pretty common now - there are plenty between Harrow and Edenhope and I've seen big red deer near Ozenkadnook."
Mr Domaschenz said deer were a hazard for drivers.
"They move fast and hit vehicles hard," he said.
"Together with kangaroos, it makes night time driving a crash lotto."
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