Hunter Local Land Services’ biosecurity team has removed nearly 2000 more deer from the Upper Hunter last week totalling 7000 for the year.
The targeted aerial program has significantly reduced the fallow and red deer herd numbers to the point that local hunters are looking for new properties to hunt.
I recently had a long conversation with a local of 40 years that believes the cull has taken out numbers to the level that he will be looking elsewhere to hunt the rut in 2019. He witnessed hills littered with velvet fallow bucks and does that had been culled in the program.
The program was initiated after increasing reports from the community about the impacts of deer on farmland and deer even straying closer to urban areas.
“Deer are very destructive, eating pastures and crops, damaging native habitats and, now, with the drought they are
desperately in search of food and water,” biosecurity team leader Luke Booth said.
“Hunter Local Land Services is prioritising our pest species control programs to assist drought-affected landholders across our region.
“This year has been disastrous for many local producers, and reducing the number of feral species competing for limited feed and water supplies is crucial.”
Murrurundi producer Mark Wylie said the initiative has had outstanding results on his property.
“Before the program, it was nothing to go out at night and see mobs of 150-200 deer on my pasture, but the culling has dramatically reduced the numbers,” he explained.
“It’s astonishing to see the impact already, the control programs have made a huge difference for us and now it’s important to keep the pressure up so the deer don’t rebuild in our area.
“We are also putting up an exclusion fence, and we just received a few showers of rain so it’s exciting to see some oats finally coming through, and not getting decimated by deer.”
Hunter Local Land Services is now working on plans for follow-up control programs in the district.
“We know pest animals are one of the biggest concerns for local landholders regardless of the season,” Mr Booth said.
“But, the drought has really exacerbated these issues and by undertaking targeted strategic programs in known hotspots we are getting some really good results.
“This is the second aerial campaign in the Upper Hunter since winter and, encouragingly, we noticed deer had not returned in large numbers to the properties we had previously targeted.
“We urge all landholders to report sightings of deer to Local Land Services, as well as any other pest species impacting their livestock or properties, so we can continue to target these pest populations.”