Aerial control program first for Grampians
Thursday 20 June, 2019
For the first time in the Grampians National Park, a helicopter crew will be used to control populations of deer and feral goats.
Part of a three-year conservation program to protect the park’s significant biodiversity and cultural values, the program will target red deer, as well as any Fallow deer, Sambar deer and goats that are observed.
The use of helicopter will allow professional shooters to reach remote and otherwise inaccessible areas of the national park, specifically priority woodland and wetland areas that are at risk from the introduced species.
Aerial shooting has been used by Parks Victoria in several other locations to control feral goats, pigs and deer and is a valuable tool for reducing the impacts that large introduced animals are having on parks. Preliminary data obtained from a trial of the technique in the Alpine National Park indicates it can be a highly effective method in remote areas.
The Grampians National Park contains more than 800 indigenous plant species and one third of Victoria’s flora. Deer and feral goats are prolific grazers, stripping vegetation, causing erosion, transporting diseases and diminishing food and habitat for native species.
Weather permitting, the aerial program will be conducted between 22–28 June over sections of the national park, and also throughout Black Range State Park. During the operation, people may see a helicopter and be able to hear gunshots.
The program will be carried out under strict conditions designed to ensure safe, effective and humane practices. Veterinary personnel will be onsite to oversee the operation and to confirm adherence with Standard Operating Procedures and humane practices.
Park restrictions and track closures will be signposted and information available to visitors from the Brambuk visitor centre in Halls Gap, and by calling 13 19 63. Visitors are reminded to stay on designated tracks and obey all signage when out in the park.
The three-year program is funded through a $1.8 million state government Biodiversity Response Planning grant.
Quotes attributable to Rhonda McNeil, Area Chief Ranger–Parks Victoria:
“Aerial control programs are proving to be an important part of the mix when it comes to controlling introduced and pest animals across large areas.”
“In the Grampians National Park and Black Range State Park, an aerial crew will complement the on-ground efforts of other professional and accredited volunteer shooters and Park Rangers.”