Strategic Plan for South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program

News article |

The State Government has released a strategic plan for the 10-year South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program.

The Strategic Plan for the South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program 2022-32, which aligns with the National Feral Deer Management Plan released in August, has been developed to guide the eradication effort, and to better manage farmed deer within the state, building on the success of the program’s first year.

Regarded as one of Australia’s worst pest animals in both rural and peri-urban areas, feral deer cost South Australian primary producers an estimated $36 million in direct productivity losses last year. In addition to primary industry costs, feral deer have significant impacts on the environment and road safety.

At the time of the eradication program’s commencement in May 2022 there was an estimated 40,000 feral deer in the state. In its first 18 months, over 11,000 feral deer have been removed from the South Australian landscape.

The South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program is a statewide partnership between:

  • the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA)
  • Landscape SA Boards
  • the Department for Environment and Water (DEW)
  • SA Water
  • ForestrySA
  • Livestock SA.

The program is jointly funded by both the Australian and South Australian Governments and the SA Landscape Boards.

This Strategic Plan has been endorsed by the Chairs of the regional Landscape Boards in feral deer impacted regions (Eyre Peninsula, Hills and Fleurieu, Limestone Coast, Murraylands and Riverland and Northern and Yorke) and the Chief Executives of PIRSA, DEW, SA Water and ForestrySA.

The goals of the Strategic Plan are to:

  • eradicate feral deer from South Australia in 10-years
  • engage with stakeholders to promote coordinated, landscape-scale, feral deer control and build capacity for implementation
  • prevent harboring of feral deer, and the illegal release and escape of farmed deer through the enforcement of best practice fencing and tagging standards.

In South Australia, feral deer are declared for destruction under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019, meaning land managers are required to destroy all feral deer on their land. In addition to landholders investing their own funds for control, eradication programs in South Australia currently cost government about $1.1 million a year.

Compared to eastern state populations, the South Australian feral deer numbers are still considered low enough for the opportunity to completely eradicate the pest.

Recent independent analysis of the 10-year eradication program against business-as-usual management of feral deer indicates that the program will generate a net benefit to the community of $525 million over a 10-year period.

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