Collaborative Community Deer Action across Nillumbik

Overview

What is the project?

Nillumbik Shire Council has been successful in receiving two one-year grants from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Communities Environment Program to build the capacity of the local community to engage in targeted local area deer control options via delivery of educational programs related to deer management.

 

Where will the project be undertaken?

The project targets landholders experiencing deer problems in Wattle Glen, Diamond Creek, Plenty, Research, North Warrandyte, Eltham and Kangaroo Ground (i.e. Menzies and Jaga Jaga federal electorate suburbs) – as these are the suburbs covered by our grant funding.  

However, Council recognises that deer observe no boundaries, so whilst the project training tends to be hosted in Menzies or Jaga Jaga, it is open to all Nillumbik residents.

 

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Learning opportunities

A program of information sessions, field days and workshops will be developed based on community interest.  

Suggested topics might include:

• deer identification and behaviour

• recognising deer damage to natural, rural and agricultural environments

• monitoring techniques for deer presence and damage

• humane deer reduction options – hunting vs culling vs harvesting

• cross-tenure control 

• distinguishing properties requiring professional contractors

• collaborative approaches

• investigating property protection options such as fencing or scent deterrents

• voluntary and professional control options

• using night vision thermal scopes and monoculars

• the role of the Victoria Police firearms officer

• butchering techniques

• venison salami and/or sausage making

• feral feast

• speed date a deer hunter (meet volunteer and professional shooters)

• carcass disposal options

• the evolving regulatory landscape.

Such information sharing will help to reduce the impact of deer on natural habitats and the environment by facilitating an informed collaborative approach and coordinating on-ground private landholder deer control works.

Groups of upskilled landholders will be in a position to carry out ongoing deer control across the landscape and to provide support to other landholders that can be expected to express interest in getting involved in deer control over time.

Types of activities

• Citizen Science activities

• Field Days

• Workshops

• Practical demonstrations or hands-on activities

• Site inspections

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Facilitation of Deer Control

Specialist deer contractors will undertake site surveys of properties identified as key control areas or where deer have been identified as the cause of significant damage.

Through assessment of these site, properties will be identified as providing opportunities for volunteer shooters (recreational hunters, or services such as the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia’s Farmer Assist Program) to assist in the reduction of deer numbers.

Where properties are determined to require a populous place permit, residents will be assisted in making arrangements with professional contractors.

 

Can I have a say?

The project seeks to answer your burning questions about deer - and provide an opportunity for the exchange of ideas with us as well as other residents. 

Council is not yet expert in deer control, but we are quickly gaining an understanding of available options, and how to get the best results from deer control.

Field Days and Workshops need to be relevant to your needs. Complete this survey so we can best understand your needs and the questions you want answered.  We’ll source the experts to upskill us all.

 

 

How can I stay informed?

Please join the Mailing List for the project updates and notifications for Events as they are announced.

 

Why is Nillumbik Shire Council undertaking this project?

View this wonderful mini-documentary prepared by the Middle Yarra Landcare Network - http://warrandyte.tv/ showing damage done to local environments.

ABC Landline has also covered the topic of deer, mainly in relation to farms and national parks. Watch the full 15 minute segment here.  For further information, you may also be interested in reading about the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions deer management research collaboration here.

 

To help minimise environmental damage

Deer are causing significant damage to native vegetation and waterways in Nillumbik. 

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 lists Sambar deer as a threatening process to the biodiversity of native vegetation.  This listing is supported by the experience of local ecologists in Nillumbik who are very concerned about the ecological impact of Sanbar deer and other deer species found locally. 

In many areas of the Shire, deer are:

• Over-browsing and causing the destruction of ground and mid-storey vegetation.  This is significantly reducing the presence of native flora species, including several threatened species; and is reducing the habitat of ground-dwelling animals like dunnarts, and limiting feed options for many other fauna.

• Destroying saplings and seriously damaging tree health by rubbing against tree trunks. 

• Damaging waterways with their hard hooves and wallowing, which is causing erosion and reducing water quality.  

“At Dunmoochin we are becoming increasingly alarmed at damage by deer, particularly in our precious wetter areas. This damage seems to be escalating dramatically and is threatening to our rare orchid territory with serious damage already evident. Deer crossing riparian zones are also degrading the banks. Dunmoochin also has lots of roo traffic, but deer tracks and crossings under hard hoof impact are creating much, much more damage. The weight of the deer and the concentration of the foot print are wearing crossings into prime erosion sites”.   

David Nicholls, Dunmoochin Landcare Group

To help minimise agricultural damage

Rural landowners in Nillumbik are reporting that deer are increasingly causing damage to their vineyards, orchards and rural grazing livelihoods.

They are reporting impacts such as water spoilage, erosion, damage to fences, tree crops, vines and shelterbelts and an increasing struggle to achieve good pasture via rotational grazing. 

To help protect public safety

Deer represent a public risk in terms of being a road traffic hazard.

There is also a concern that hunting by inexperienced or illegal hunters has the potential to cause death, injury or property damage.

Participation in this project will assist landholders to understand deer control options, and available advice and support. 

 

Need for Collaboration

There are a number of different approaches being undertaken across Victoria and in other states, attempting to reduce deer numbers and damage. What has been recognised, is that collaboration is essential to achieve visible results.

Some examples of community and landscape scale deer control are:

 

Cardinia Deer Management Coalition

A group of local farmers who are matched with local volunteer deer hunters to conduct shooting programs on large rural properties. Hunters are provided with training and undertake competency tests.

 

The Coalition is made up of local citizens and allied groups who are concerned about the environmental and other impacts of feral deer in the Cardinia Creek catchment. They are strongly committed to community safety, and an effective, targeted and humane approach to deer control.

http://www.cardiniadeer.com/

 

Jumping Creek Catchment Landcare Group

A proactive group was set up after residents in a street joined up to tackle their shared deer problems. The Landcare Group facilitates the employment of a professional deer contractor to undertake regular deer control in bushland and rural properties. Landholders contribute funds to a shared kitty which pays for the contractor to conduct works across the area. Council contributes to the program through their LEAF program.

 

Sugarloaf Link Program

A grant-funded program offering deer control to property owners in Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills and Watsons Creek, around the Sugarloaf Reservoir.

This program is funding professional deer contractors, who have identified the most effective properties on which to undertake shooting operations.

https://www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Environment/Environment-projects/Sugarloaf-Link-project

 

Shire of Yarra Ranges

This Council is undertaking deer control to support the recovery of the Helmeted Honeyeater in the Yellingbo area.

http://yarraranges.vic.gov.au/files/assets/public/webdocuments/environment/environmental-education/deer_management_information_booklet.pdf

 

North East Catchment Management Authority

After a significant increase in deer populations and damage, information has been included on their website. https://www.necma.vic.gov.au/Solutions/Plants-Animals/Deer/Resources

 

Upper Murray Landcare

Developed a detailed handbook on dealing with the issue of feral deer -- who to contact, signage and shooting (“Deer Management Information for Private Landholders”). This kit was put together in response to the Upper Murray Deer Forum in 2015.

Lyn Coulston (Blackberry Taskforce) has been instrumental in spearheading this collaborative approach to deer control.

 

Victorian Government

Drafted a Victorian Deer Management Strategy in October 2018 which was open for public consultation. The revised and final version is due out shortly, and Council will then be in a better position to understand the approach to management that is to be adopted by government. 

 

NSW Government

To better support landholders managing the current drought conditions and abundant deer herds, the NSW Government amended the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 in September 2019. The change removes the requirement to hold a NSW Game Hunting Licence, allowing licensed and reputable hunters to assist landholders with feral deer management on private land. This allows deer to be managed in the same way that rabbits, foxes, pigs and goats are controlled.

A formal control order has not been made under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which means there will be no obligation to eradicate placed on landholders and managers beyond the general biosecurity duty.

https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/717897/nrc-review-FAQ-deer.pdf

 

 

 

Project Partners

The Community Deer Education programs seek to create project partners and networks, and potentially develop local deer management collectives. These would take different forms, depending on the preferences of participants. 

We currently work closely with other agencies and organisations to build upon works already being undertaken in the area.  

For example, community deer control which will hopefully result as an outcome of this project will complement:

• Conservation Futures (Biodiversity On-Ground Action): Threatened Species protection including deer exclusion fencing.

• Deer control in Kinglake National Park

• Melbourne Water deer control within Sugarloaf and Yan Yean reservoirs

• Manningham Council / Jumping Creek Catchment Landcare group deer control

• City of Whittlesea deer control adjacent to Kinglake National Park

• Various private properties across Nillumbik undertaking authorised deer control

To facilitate and assist with the development of potential community actions to manage feral deer, Nillumbik Shire Council is a member of several networks and has working relationships with organisations focussed on pest management. We will draw on these contacts to inform deer management activities for this project.

Current networks and resources include: 

• Yarra Catchment Deer Network Forum

• Nillumbik Landcare Network and individual Landcare Groups

• Parks Victoria (Middle Yarra)

• Melbourne Water Corporation

• Eastern Pest Animal Network

• Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

• Neighbouring Councils

• Victorian National Parks Association

• Catchment Management Authorities

• Professional and volunteer deer shooters

• Local Meat Processing Facilities

 

Reporting Deer Sightings

Nillumbik Shire Council strongly recommends recording all deer sightings through the FeralScan website or phone app.

This will help Council identify areas in need of assistance, as well as track deer movements through the landscape.  Increased data and knowledge of deer presence in the area will help define the extent of the issue.

Simply set up an account and enter sightings as you see them.  No photographic evidence is required, but it is extremely beneficial.  

Data is closely protected through FeralScan, and users of the site cannot view deer locations at property level, thus protecting landholders from any illegal hunting.  Nillumbik Environment Officers have access to this dataset to assist with deer control through the municipality.

 

Potential Resources

Tangible and practical outcomes of the project will be determined and developed in consultation and agreement with community members over the course of the project.

These might include:

• Community Directory – a list of deer controllers – professional and recreational - including details of experience, qualifications, equipment, methods etc.  Such a list could assist landholders in selecting a shooter for their property.

• Dedicated web page for deer control in Nillumbik with links to relevant organisations (such as Game Management Authority, DELWP, Sporting Shooters Association, Australian Deer Association), important contacts (such as District Firearms Officer), summaries of rules and regulations etc

• Local Deer Management Collectives – which may be associated with Landcare – to promote deer management across the Shire. A Deer Action Group could help you find fencing contractors, professional deer controllers/ harvesters and/ or game meat processors.

Further Information

If you would like to register your interest to be involved in the project workshops, as a professional, amateur or volunteer hunter, pest animal controller or harvester, fencing contractor or other relevant profession, please provide your contact details.

For more information please contact Michelle Hanslow, Environment Project Officer on 9433 3543 or email environment@nillumbik.vic.gov.au

 

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