27 May 2019

ACT Parks and Conservation has invasive deer in its sights with aerial shooting program

| Ian Bushnell
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Breeding up: Fallow deer in an ACT nature reserve. Photo: Zac McKenzie.

Rising numbers of fallow deer in ACT nature reserves have prompted Parks and Conservation to order a cull of the feral animals early next month.

The agency will conduct an aerial shooting program in the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo River Corridors and surrounding land from Monday 3 June until Friday 7 June.

It says that there are significant emerging populations of fallow deer in Bullen Range, Woodstock and Lower Molonglo nature reserves, and the cull follows ground-based deer control programs undertaken in previous years.

ACT Parks and Conservation’s Invasive Animal Manager Oliver Orgill said deer were invasive hard-hoofed animals that were unnatural to the ACT landscape and had the potential to cause significant environmental and agricultural impacts, as well as invading urban reserves.

“Rising deer populations are a major concern to land managers in the region and unless they are effectively controlled they will have serious impacts on the environmental values of our nature reserves and the productivity of the ACT’s agricultural land as they destroy young trees through antler rubbing and they eat native plants,” he said.

“There are three species of deer in the ACT – fallow, red and sambar – whose populations have been increasing over the last five to ten years. Fallow deer populations in our river corridors and surrounding areas are a priority concern.

“If these populations are left unmanaged, they will lead to the deterioration of riparian areas and will continue to add grazing pressure to farms already affected by extended dry conditions. They also have the potential to spread into our suburban areas and colonise urban reserves where they become harder to manage as well as pose a potential increased traffic risk.”

Mr Orgill said aerial shooting conducted by experienced operators was considered a humane method by independent experts for controlling invasive animals, particularly large herbivores such as deer.

“The operation will be undertaken by a team of experienced contractors overseen by the Parks and Conservation Service, and conducted in targeted areas that are rugged, inaccessible and not suitable for ground shooting,” he said.

These areas will be closed for the duration of the cull and warning signs will be placed at all entry points to the reserves.

Professional shooters like Rob Gallina agree that shooting is the most humane method for deer culling, as opposed to aerial baiting with 1080 poison which he describes as brutal, cruel and likely to wipe out many native animals.

ACT Parks and Conservation regularly undertakes ground-based deer control programs with previous programs at Googong foreshores removing 430 deer since 2014, and 60 deer in sensitive areas in the Murrumbidgee River corridor since 2015.

The following sites will be closed from 6:30 am on Monday 3 June until 12 pm Friday 7 June 2019.

  • Bullen Range nature reserve
  • Lower Molonglo nature reserve
  • Woodstock nature reserve
  • Kambah Pool recreation area
  • Centenary trail between Kambah Pool and Tuggeranong creek
  • Murrumbidgee discovery trail between Kambah Pool and the Cotter
  • Shepherd’s Lookout track
  • Uriarra Loop track
  • Georgio’s Sandwash track
  • Tong’s Hole track

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on The RiotACT.

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