Feral deer and goat numbers reduced at Mount Bold

News article |

In a recent three-day aerial operation, over 280 fallow deer and over 60 feral goats were removed from SA Water’s Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve, helping to reduce grazing pressure as native vegetation regenerates from the 2021 Cherry Gardens bushfire.

It’s one of several operations undertaken from both the air and ground in the region this year, to manage an increasing environmental and agricultural challenge. Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu works with partners to coordinate feral deer and goat control through the Regional Grazing Pressure Management Program.

Tom Kloeden, Regional Coordinator for Grazing Pressure Management, explained how the Mount Bold operation targeted feral deer and goats in priority areas over three days, using a strategic and coordinated approach.

“In partnership with SA Water, ForestrySA and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, we coordinated an aerial deer control operation at the Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve, removing 286 fallow deer and 61 feral goats across 5,243 hectares, using 20 hours of helicopter flight time.

“Grazing pressure from introduced herbivores can have substantial impacts on primary production, water catchments, native vegetation and threatened flora and fauna. In this case, the animals were concentrated in and around the Cherry Gardens fire scar, feeding on regenerating native vegetation. Removing these animals not only prevents their continual reproduction and distribution, but allows the landscape to recover from the effects of the fire.

“Feral deer are established across much of the region. The approach to deer management is to reduce high-density deer populations, and to contain or eradicate isolated populations where possible. This work supports the long term goals of the SA Feral Deer Eradication Program.

“The number of fallow deer removed in this operation likely represents a high proportion of the local population, and with fallow deer expected to fawn during December, the removal of these 286 fallow deer equates to approximately 400 fewer deer that would have been in the area post fawning.”

“The Regional Grazing Pressure Management Program has the objective of eradicating all known feral goat populations within the Hills and Fleurieu region. The removal of 61 goats from an estimated population of 50-100 animals within Mount Bold is a significant result, and brings the goal of local eradication well within reach.

“Consistency is the key to local eradication. Considering goats have a fast population growth rate, increasing by up to 65-70 per cent each year, an ongoing and integrated effort will be required to reach our local eradication targets. The outcomes from the Mount Bold operation are definitely a step in the right direction, and further works are planned to build upon the success of the most recent operation.”

“We encourage landholders and the general public to report any sightings of feral goats and deer at www.feralscan.org.auwhich will trigger an alert to our team and help us understand where sub-populations are residing and how to best plan our programs,” said Mr Kloeden.

You can find out more about Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu’s Regional Grazing Pressure Management program and access useful resources, updates and links here.

The Regional Grazing Pressure Management program is funded through the Landscape Levy and is being delivered in partnership with the Department for Environment and Water’s National Parks and Wildlife Service, Green Adelaide, ForestrySA, SA Water, and private landholders, to control feral goats and deer, which are declared pests under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019.

Feral deer and goat numbers reduced at Mount Bold
The Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve was heavily impacted by the Cherry Gardens bushfire in January 2021. Feral deer and goats have capitalised on the regenerating native vegetation as a primary food source.

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