Giving biodiversity a fighting chance
Monday 21 December, 2020
An update on Victoria’s biggest deer and feral animal control program
The natural environment across Eastern Victoria is being given a fighting chance at recovery, thanks to a coordinated deer and feral animal control program.
Starting in February 2020, while some bushfires were still burning, the Victorian Government began to deliver the biggest coordinated deer and feral animal control program the state has ever seen.
The purpose of this program is to ensure the wildlife and habitats affected by fires are being protected while at their most vulnerable.
Ten months on, Parks Victoria has completed a second aerial shooting campaign and continued large scale ground shooting removing deer, feral pigs and foxes from high biodiversity-value locations within nine parks.
As the landscape gradually recovers, more will be known about the biodiversity benefits of this program. However, current results show that during the 10-week aerial shooting campaign in winter-spring, 2,000 target animals were removed from target areas - that’s one every 6.4-minutes of flight time.
Long-term monitoring and evaluation are underway to gather information to inform future programs, however staff on the ground have reported an increase in wildlife sightings and exciting signs of native plant regrowth within target areas.
The 2019-20 bushfires had a devastating impact on native animals, plants and large areas of habitat in Victoria. Under these conditions, deer and feral animals are a significant threat to survival and recovery as they seriously damage native vegetation and important habitat areas through grazing, browsing, trampling and wallowing.
For more information about the deer and feral animal control program, visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/projects/deer-and-feral-animal-control-in-response-to-bushfire.
Parks Victoria will continue to undertake shooting activities to control deer and feral animals in parks and reserves across Eastern Victoria. Please visit specific park pages at www.parks.vic.gov.au for the latest information about closures and conditions.
This work is part of a broader threat management program involving a combination of animal control methods and weed control, co-led by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria, as part of the Bushfire Biodiversity Response & Recovery program. This program was recently expanded through the State Budget with an additional $29 million.
Quotes attributable to Dr Mark Norman, Chief Conservation Scientist, Parks Victoria:
“We’re really pleased that the aerial and ground shooting operations are providing much-needed relief to Victoria’s fire-impacted environments and native wildlife - helping habitats and native species to recover from these major fires.
Burnt areas of bush and the native wildlife that live in them need all the help they can get. Since the program began as an emergency response in February 2020, more than 4,300 deer have been removed from high-biodiversity value areas using ground and aerial shooting.
Together with a range of animal control methods and weed control, this coordinated approach to threat management is giving real protection to some of our most special natural environments.”