Aerial deer cull under threat

Aerial deer cull under threat


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South East landholders are being urged to have their say to ensure federal government funding for the region’s aerial deer culling program continues.

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PEST SOLUTION: The first South East aerial culling was on James Darling's Duck Island property in April 2007, with 182 deer shot in six hours.

PEST SOLUTION: The first South East aerial culling was on James Darling's Duck Island property in April 2007, with 182 deer shot in six hours.

South East landholders are being urged to have their say to ensure federal government funding for the region’s aerial deer culling program continues.

The 2017 program was the most successful yet, with a nearly threefold increase in numbers of the feral pest shot and the number of landholders participating rising from 21 to 31.

But the $160,000 in annual funding from the National Landcare Program has come to an end.

The program’s extension will depend on Natural Resources SE gaining funds from the $450-million Regional Land Partnerships Program.

Figures provided by Natural Resources SE state 1793 deer were culled across more than 100,000 hectares in three weeks in March, April and May this year.

This is up from 693 in 2016, when the cull took place across two weeks, and considerably higher than 297 in 2015.

In the 2017 cull, 35 per cent of the deer were shot on private land, with the remainder in public parks.

Keith farmer James Darling says it is imperative more funding is secured.

“Aerial culling is only one measure of control but it acts as an incentive for landowners to undertake ground shooting,” he said.

In the past decade, he says 6048 deer, as well as 365 goats, 145 foxes and 17 pigs have been controlled by air.

It is very important for the whole of Australia that the program continues as an example on how to manage feral deer. - JAMES DARLING

But Mr Darling says the sharp rise in deer numbers in the past couple of years also shows the SENRM board needs to be properly resourced to enforce the Environment & Resources Development Court’s order that all deer enclosures must be adequately fenced.

“There is strong evidence the increased landholder participation and the number of flying hours makes a big difference to the numbers shot, but it also shows the leakage from deer enclosures continues to increase,” he said.

Mr Darling says the SENRM board’s funding application needs the strong backing of the SE Local Government Association, Livestock SA  and other NRM boards.

“In Tas, Vic and NSW, deer are considered game animals so they are not able to access federal government funding for control, but these states are considering changing the status of deer to vermin,” he said.

“It is very important for the whole of Australia that the program continues as an example on how to manage feral deer.”

Livestock SA executive officer Andrew Curtis says the numbers of feral deer in the SE remain a concern.

“It (aerial culling) is only one control, but it is a critical one on which to build other things around,” he said.

”We will work with whatever solutions are available to make sure we can get the best control of feral deer and other vertebrate pests.”

Member for Barker Tony Pasin is hopeful with a record $1 billion allocated to Landcare in the federal budget across the next five years, the aerial cull can be extended.

He has been working with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to highlight the importance of removing feral deer, but says it is also vital landholders and councils respond to the RLPP consultation paper by October 23.

“Feral deer are a huge problem, particularly in the Upper SE and cause major damage to fences, native vegetation, wildlife habitat and agricultural crops and pastures,” Mr Pasin said.

“They are also potential carriers of exotic livestock diseases and are a danger to motor vehicles on public roads.”

  • Details: nrm.gov.au
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