Deer and feral animal control in response to bushfire

Overview 

From September to December 2020, Parks Victoria is implementing a deer and feral animal control program, using both ground and aerial shooting, in parks and reserves across Eastern Victoria. 

The aim of this program is to remove deer and feral animals from priority fire-affected and adjacent areas, to give threatened plants, plant communities and animals the best chance of survival after fires. 

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. 

Urgent and effective action is required to control deer and feral animals, not just in the burnt areas, but also in the adjacent unburnt areas which provide refuge for native species and harbour for introduced species. 

This program is funded by the Federal Government’s Regional Landcare Programme and the Victorian Government’s $17.5 million
Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program, led by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. 

 

Read an update about the program from July 2020: Promising signs of wildlife recovery in eastern VictoriaOnce the program is completed, results will be compiled and shared with the public. 

Visit our Conservation and Science page to learn more about how we reduce threats and improve the health of Victoria’s parks.

Impacts to park visitors 

  • Parks will not be closed for ground shooting however, there may be other factors impacting visitors’ ability to access parks.  Please visit the specific park pages for the latest information about closures and conditions. 
  • Some parks, or areas within parks, will be closed while aerial shooting is underway.  Again, please visit the specific park pages for the latest information. 
  • The aim of the program is to reduce deer activity around significant environment values in burnt areas that are vulnerable to deer impacts, including alpine wetlands and rainforests.  These environmental values occur in localised areas where control works will be focussed. Therefore, this program will have little impact on people’s ability to go hunting, and limited influence on people’s opportunity to shoot deer.  Deer numbers in eastern Victoria are at such a level now that eradication is not possible using currently available control tools. 

Safety and ethics 

  • The program will be carried out under strict conditions designed to ensure safe, effective, and humane practices are implemented.  Suitably qualified and experienced contractors will be engaged to deliver the work.   
  • At the start of the program, every effort is made to advise all key stakeholders including neighbours, Licensed Tour Operators and school groups of Parks Victoria’s intent to undertake deer control and the proposed locations. 
  • Advisory signs will be placed at all major access points informing park visitors that deer control work is being carried out in the area.  These have been installed at the start of the program and will be removed at the end.  
  • Parks Victoria staff and contractors are ensuring all activities comply with requirements regarding hygiene and physical distancing, to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 
  • All contractors undertaking deer control, whether ground or aerial shooting, will act according to all relevant legislation, Codes of Practice and Standard Operating Procedures designed to ensure that animals are killed humanely. 


Ground shooting 

The ground shooting program is mainly targeting deer, though pigs, goats and foxes will also be controlled where they occur.  Targeting a range of species will give threatened plants, plant communities and animals the best chance of survival after fires. Please note – ground shooting will mostly be undertaken at night. 

Ground shooting is planned for the following parks: 


*parks where aerial shooting will occur 


Please visit the specific park pages for the latest information about closures and conditions. 


Aerial shooting 

Aerial shooting is an appropriate, effective and humane method of control across large and remote areas which have been burnt and are difficult or unsafe to access by foot.  The aerial shooting program is targeting deer, feral pigs, feral goats, feral cattle and foxes, to give threatened plants, plant communities and animals the best chance of survival and recovery following the fires. 

Aerial shooting is planned for the following parks: 


Please visit the specific park pages for the latest information about closures and conditions. 

The aerial shooting program commenced February 2020 as an emergency response operation led by Forest Fire Management (DELWP). Management was handed over to Parks Victoria in June 2020 to continue delivery of the program during the fire recovery stage. 

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