Feral Deer hits big target

Limestone Coast Landscape Board's control program removed more than 1160 feral deer from the region this autumn; part of the program used helicopters for aerial shooting.

More than 1160 feral deer have been removed from the region as part of an autumn shooting program by the Limestone Coast Landscape Board.

As part of a coordinated effort to reduce the pest’s impact on the region’s agriculture, native habitats and public safety, the culling operation was conducted in April and May.

The autumn shooting program was conducted on 51 private properties, seven Forestry SA reserves and 24 Department for Environment and Water reserves throughout the Limestone Coast, encompassing more than 140,000 hectares.

It was one of three shooting operations planned for this year by the Landscape Board.

LC Landscape Board Landscape Operations Manager Mike Stevens said the Board was committed to supporting landholders to eradicate feral deer.

“By working together we can implement intensive feral deer control at the largest possible scale and make a real difference to achieving eradication and

protect our region from the impacts of feral deer,” Mr Stevens said.

“We have over 80 landholders participating in our feral deer aerial and ground shooting control programs, demonstrating the commitment of the community

to eradicate feral deer and protect agricultural productivity and biodiversity across the Limestone Coast region,” he said.

“Feral deer compete with livestock for pasture, damage infrastructure such as fences and have the potential to spread disease.

“Not only do feral deer impact the agricultural bottom line and environment, they also attract illegal hunting and create public safety hazards on our roads.

“Just one red stag can reduce a farm’s grazing capacity by 3.6 sheep, the recent autumn feral deer operation removed 1166 feral deer from the landscape,

which is equivalent to removing 50,000 rabbits or running an extra 4190 sheep.”

The LC Landscape Board uses a variety of control tools to achieve eradication such as aerial shooting, professional ground shooting contractors, commercial

harvesting and supporting partnerships to trial new approaches such as deer traps and thermal-assisted ground and aerial shooting techniques.

The latest feral deer control operation adopted a ‘hybrid thermal’ approach, where marksmen used thermal devices to spot feral deer in thick vegetation.

The flexibility of this new approach enabled larger areas to be covered than in previous operations.

“To eradicate feral deer across the region, the LC Landscape Board has commenced a monitoring program to find areas where feral deer harbour and is

seeking more properties to be involved in the control programs,” Mr Stevens said.

“Any landholders that have feral deer on their property are urged to contact us today.

“We are here to help landholders to eradicate feral deer on their properties.”

Under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 (the Act) feral deer are a declared pest, and landholders are responsible for the eradication of feral deer on their properties.