Feral deer numbers reduced in Deep Creek National Park
18 July 2022
A recent aerial operation has removed over 200 fallow deer from Deep Creek National Park, helping preserve native vegetation and threatened species. It’s one of several operations undertaken from both the air and ground 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.[i]
Tom Kloeden, Regional Coordinator for Grazing Pressure Management at Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu, explained how the Deep Creek operation targeted feral deer in priority areas over two days, using a strategic and coordinated approach.
“In partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA and private landholders, we coordinated an aerial deer control operation at Deep Creek National Park and neighbouring private properties, removing 243 fallow deer across 6,800 hectares (ha), using 10 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.
“Feral deer are established across much of the region. The approach to deer management is to reduce high-density deer populations, and strategically target priority locations to protect assets including primary production, threatened species and ecosystems, or revegetation sites. We also aim to contain or eradicate isolated populations where possible.
“According to a report commissioned by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, it is estimated that there could be as many as 8,000 deer in the region, and that fallow deer populations can increase by approximately 30 per cent each year.
“Our coordinated activities are certainly resulting in localised reductions in deer numbers and their impacts. Continued control efforts and coordination between public and private landholders will be required over the coming years in order to achieve a landscape scale reduction in numbers of both feral deer and feral goats,” said Mr Kloeden.
A two-day aerial goat control operation in Montacute in March, covered 1400 ha of ForestrySA, SA Water, and Department for Environment and Water land, as well as four private properties, and resulted in the removal of 323 feral goats and six deer. A further 110 goats were removed by trapping and ground shooting.
“Consistency is the key to local eradication. Over the past few years more than 1900 feral goats have been removed from an initial surveyed population of over 2000. The positive rebound of native vegetation has been shown though monitoring and farmers are reporting fewer feral goats on their properties.
“There is still a lot of work to do, goats have a fast population growth rate, increasing by up to 65-70 per cent each year. While we are managing to remove a substantial number of feral goats each year, their populations regenerate very quickly, particularly given the lack of natural predators in our region. A sustained, integrated effort will be required to reach our local eradication target,” said Mr Kloeden.
“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.”
Landscapes Hills and Fleurieu also has a webpage dedicated to the Regional Grazing Pressure Management program which has useful resources, updates and links here.
[i]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.