Wollongong City Council's pest deer management policy could be dumped on Monday night as bureaucrats seek to reduce the "administrative burden" on them if it were kept.
The move, which councillors have yet to approve, has raised criticism that it could muddy council's commitment to the problem of pest deer in Wollongong.
While the problem of feral deer invading suburbs and motorways may seem to residents to be worse than ever, the report recommends revoking the Vertebrate Pest Animal Management policy - which advocates have warned against.
A staff report to Monday's meeting stated recent biosecurity legislation means deer can be considered "priority pests" without a specific policy.
The main reason to scrap the policy is to "reduce the administrative burden in maintaining, reviewing and updating the policies", a staff report to Monday's council meeting says.
Online it appears the council may already be retreating from responsibility on deer in the Local Government Area. The deer section of the council's website now refers visitors to NSW Local Land Services as the responsible agency, with no mention of the council's own policy.
There is no mention of any actions, such as culling, taken by WCC other than "supporting" Local Land Services.
Invasive Species Council advocacy manager Jack Gough, of Towradgi, said dropping the policy may lead to a reduction in focus and commitment to the problem.
"Hopefully this is just a bureaucratic attempt to streamline policies which councillors will reject," he said.
"Because they know that having clear statement, and clear policy in favour of feral animal management, is really important to residents - particularly when it comes to feral deer, which are a threat to our environment and also the safety of road users.
"There is no reason to be given in this council brief to remove that policy - and the Invasive Species Council [is] very concerned that a move to do so will foreshadow future reduction in the level of focus and commitment from council on this issue.
"As soon as there is no clear policy intention and it's left to a wishy-washy Biosecurity Act obligation - which to be frank is a choose-your-own-adventure piece of legislation - [then] there really isn't the architecture to ensure the ongoing commitment of council and that's our concern."
The Wollongong staff report defers responsibility for leading the charge against pest deer to the NSW Government's Local Land Services section.
"Council now works with Local Land Services on defining management actions associated with priority pests in the region and does not need the current policy to undertake management activities," the report states.
"Council is a member of the Illawarra Wild Deer Management Committee, led by Local Land Services, which oversees the regional deer management program."
Wollongong is not at a position to declare any kind of victory in the fight against feral deer encroaching into nature reserves, suburban properties and motorways.
The concern is that without a specific policy of its own, Wollongong City Council would no longer have a clear measure for accountability on whether its methods are working.
In recent years deer have been spotted on North Wollongong beach, through suburbs including Woonona and Port Kembla, smashing a Mercedes-Benz on the motorway at Berkeley, and charging through streets in Figtree, among other incidents.
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