THE Limestone Coast Landscape Board's autumn feral deer control program has removed 1166 feral deer from local farmland and reserves- which the board estimates may have been eating the equivalent of more than 4000 sheep.
This tally is up about one hundred animals on the previous autumn when 1060 deer were removed (777 from aerial shoot and 283 ground shooting), but the area involved has grown by more than 30,000 hectares.
The feral deer culling program, funded by the state government's Landscapes Priorities Fund and local levy payers, is part of a coordinated effort to reduce the pest's impact on agriculture, native habitats and public safety in the Limestone Coast.
In April and May helicopters accessed 49 private properties, seven Forestry SA reserves and 24 Department for Environment & Water reserves in an area totalling 120,000 hectares with 660 feral deer shot.
It is the first of three aerial shoots planned for 2022 by the LC Landscape Board.
Another two private plantations were accessed in the ground program with 506 feral deer removed.
Limestone Coast Landscape Board landscape operations manager Mike Stevens said the board was committed to supporting landholders to eradicate feral deer with more than 140,000 hectares covered- the equivalent of 4.3 per cent of the Board's area.
"By working together we can implement intensive feral deer control at the largest possible scale and make a real difference to achieving eradication and protect our region from the impacts of feral deer," Mr Stevens said.
"We have over 80 landholders participating in our feral deer aerial and ground shooting control programs, demonstrating the commitment of the community to eradicate feral deer and protect agricultural productivity and biodiversity across the Limestone Coast region," he said.
"Feral deer compete with livestock for pasture, damage infrastructure such as fences and have the potential to spread disease. Not only do feral deer impact the agricultural bottom line and environment, they also attract illegal hunting and create public safety hazards on our roads."
Mr Stevens said one red stag could reduce a farm's grazing capacity by 3.6 sheep so the recent feral deer cull was the equivalent to removing 50,000 rabbits or running an extra 4190 sheep.
The LC Landscape Board uses a variety of control tools to achieve eradication such as aerial shooting, professional ground shooting contractors, commercial harvesting and supporting partnerships to trial new approaches such as deer traps and thermal-assisted ground and aerial shooting techniques.
The latest feral deer control operation adopted a 'hybrid thermal' approach, where marksmen utilised thermal devices to spot feral deer in thick vegetation.
The flexibility of this new approach enabled larger areas to be covered than in previous operations.
Each program takes into account local terrain and individual landholder circumstances to ensure high standards of effectiveness are achieved.
"To eradicate feral deer across the region, the LC Landscape Board has commenced a monitoring program to find areas where feral deer harbour and is seeking more properties to be involved in the control programs," Mr Stevens said.
He urged any landholders that had feral deer on their property to contact the LC Landscape Board.
"We are here to help landholders to eradicate feral deer on their properties. We need more enthusiastic landholders to participate in our control programs and I encourage people to contact me," he said.
Under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 (the Act) feral deer are a declared pest, and landholders are responsible for the eradication of feral deer on their properties.
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