Feral deer prove costly to region

Feral deer prove costly to region

Landholders are urged to join the Limestone Coast Landscape Board’s Feral Deer Eradication Program to support the elimination of this costly pest.

The call for properties to participate in the eradication effort following the release of a feral deer economic analysis commissioned by PIRSA in consultation with Landscape Boards and Livestock SA.

The report found South Australia’s feral deer population could explode by more than 500% in the next decade, costing primary producers up to $242m if further control action is not taken.

Limestone Coast Landscape Board General Manager Steve Bourne said along with recent aerial monitoring and results from the LC Landscape Board shooting operations, the report’s findings, have been the catalyst for significant investment over the next three years in the first steps to eradicate feral deer from the Limestone Coast.

“Unfortunately a large proportion of South Australia’s feral deer population is here in the Limestone Coast and that is why we are investing significantly over the next few years to achieve eradication,” he said.

The report developed by BDO Econsearch considered the impact of feral deer in South Australia under a ‘business as usual’ approach, which maintains current control effort with no additional funding. Under this approach it is projected that by 2031, the feral deer population would increase from the current estimation of about 40,000 across the state to 208,000.

Mr Bourne said the report also found production losses attributed to feral deer in SA would increase from an estimated $36m in the 2020/21 financial year to $242m by 2032, through deer damaging, contaminating or eating crops and pastures, or through competition with livestock.

“We have heard the message from the report, combined with recent disease concerns from primary producers who are closely monitoring the heightened risk of foot and mouth disease to Australia and we are responding quickly,” he said.

“We have an opportunity right now in our region where the feral deer population is not as wide-spread compared to the eastern states and we have a real possibility of eradicating them from the region.”

Supported through funding from the South Australian Government’s Landscape Priorities Fund and landscape levy, the LC Landscape Boards Feral Deer Eradication Program includes aerial and ground shooting operations that landowners can join at no cost. The Program also ensures farmed deer are contained and ear tagged and conducts aerial monitoring to identify where feral deer are being harboured.

Limestone Coast Landscape Board Feral Deer Project Officer Aidan Laslett said managing feral deer populations was best achieved by involving all land managers in the local area.

“Through working together we can deliver intensive feral deer control at the largest possible scale, resulting in achieving eradication and protecting our region,” he said.

“We are seeking to increase the number of properties involved in our Feral Deer Eradication Program and landholders with feral deer on their property are encouraged to contact us to participate.”

The program, which is easy to join and free to landholders, takes into account local terrain and individual landholder circumstances such as stock movements to ensure high standards of effectiveness are achieved.

Landholders are responsible for the eradication of feral deer on their properties under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 and the LC Landscape Board aims to support landholders achieve this through their Feral Deer Eradication Program.

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