Feral animal cull begins in Vic’s national parks

PARKS Victoria’s removal of deer and other feral animals from some of the state’s national parks began this week at the Alpine National Park.

Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox said nature was slowly recovering from last year’s massive bushfires in eastern Victoria, but needed all the help it could get.

” … reducing feral animal numbers is a critical step in helping nature recover,” Mr Cox said.

“Feral animals that survived the fires such as deer have bred up and are impeding the natural recovery of the bush by grazing, browsing and trampling sensitive native vegetation and wallowing in burnt areas.”

“Feral animals that survived the fires such as deer have bred up and are impeding the natural recovery of the bush by grazing, browsing and trampling sensitive native vegetation and wallowing in burnt areas.

“Reducing the number of feral animals in these areas will give threatened native plants, plant communities and animals the best chance of survival after the fires.”

Parks Victoria says the cull will help nature recover from the 2019-2020 summer bushfires, giving “native plants, plant communities and animals the best chance of survival after fires”.

The organisation is carrying out ground and aerial shooting across a range of parks including Mt Buffalo, the Avon Wilderness, Croajingolong and the Alpine National Park.

The program, which began last year, has so far removed 4300 feral deer from recovering high-conservation value areas.

“While the bushfires were a tragedy for our native plants and animals, they were a boon for many feral animals, providing easy hunting grounds for feral cats and foxes, and opening up new areas for big browsing animals like feral deer,” Mr Cox said.

“Tackling feral animals in national parks hit by last year’s bushfires is a critical component to Victoria’s bushfire recovery program.”

With about one million deer or more in Victoria, the Invasive Species Council is calling on the Victorian government to re-classify deer as a pest animal, rather than a protected game species, as it does with feral pigs, foxes, cats and rabbits.

It is also urging the government to expand its aerial and ground shooting program across all land tenures to control deer and other feral animal numbers, and to promptly develop regional deer control plans as part of the state’s deer control strategy.

Parts of some parks will be closed for public safety reasons while aerial shooting is underway.

For more information and dates, visit the Parks Victoria website.