Call to con­trol feral an­i­mals

Shepparton News - Country News - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

Video footage of a pan­icked wild deer out of con­trol on a Mel­bourne road is a clear sign the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment ur­gently needs to tackle ex­plod­ing num­bers of the feral an­i­mals, state and na­tional en­vi­ron­ment groups said last week.

In­va­sive Species Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­drew Cox said feral deer were a prob­lem for farm­ers and the en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘Feral deer are a menace to our en­vi­ron­ment, to farm­ers and even to the pub­lic when they cre­ate havoc on our roads,’’ Mr Cox said.

‘‘In NSW’s Illawarra re­gion they caused nine fa­tal­i­ties in a seven year stretch and 100 col­li­sions with trains.

‘‘We don’t want to see that hap­pen here in Vic­to­ria.

‘‘The video of a feral deer run­ning down the mid­dle of a ma­jor road is just a taste of what’s in store if the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment fails to clamp down on ex­plod­ing num­bers of feral deer on Mel­bourne’s out­skirts and across the state by ur­gently com­ing up with a con­tain­ment and con­trol plan for the pest an­i­mals.’’

Vic­to­rian Na­tional Parks As­so­ci­a­tion’s Phil Ingamells said some es­ti­mates put the num­ber of feral deer in Vic­to­ria at one mil­lion and grow­ing.

‘‘Vic­to­ria has its fair share of feral an­i­mals but none are in­creas­ing more rapidly than deer,’’ Mr Ingamells said.

‘‘They wal­low in wet­land ar­eas, creat­ing large mud pools at creek edges. They browse heav­ily on na­tive plants and can ring­bark trees by rub­bing their antlers on them.’’

A re­cent Vic­to­rian par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the con­trol of in­va­sive an­i­mals on Crown land firmly recog­nised the need to con­trol deer pop­u­la­tions, say­ing pro­fes­sional pest con­trol op­er­a­tors should be put to work, sup­ported by ur­gent re­search ef­forts to de­velop new con­trol op­tions be­yond ground shoot­ing.

En­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of deer in­clude:

■ Tram­pling dam­age to stream­banks and wet­lands.

■ Dam­age to trees, ferns and shrubs from chew­ing and rub­bing of bark (ring­bark­ing).

■ Brows­ing and dam­age to na­tive plants and wild­flow­ers lead­ing to plant un­der­storey loss, a re­duc­tion in plant bio­di­ver­sity and the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­tinc­tion of rare or threat­ened plants.

■ Com­pe­ti­tion with na­tive her­bi­vores like wom­bats and wal­la­bies for food and habi­tat.

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