‘Dragging heels’ on deer management

Fauna camera image. Picture: COURTESY RON SAWYER

By Romy Stephens

A Yellingbo conservation group is one of the latest to raise concerns about growing deer numbers across the Yarra Ranges.

Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater president Alan Clayton said about 10 kilometres of fencing has been installed at the Yellingbo Conservation Reserve to protect habitat and revegetation works from deer.

He said this type of fencing is three times more expensive than the standard farm fence.

“A combination of culling and fencing are being used to try to at least alleviate the damage that is being done to vegetation, waterways, wetlands and the breeding habitat of critically endangered species in the Yellingbo area,” he said.

The State Government is in the process of establishing a Deer Management Strategy, which is anticipated to be released this year.

A draft of the strategy was released for public consultation in October 2018 with 666 submissions received.

According to The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, a significant issue raised during the public consultation period was that the strategy needs greater emphasis and commitment to reducing the impacts of deer, and the final strategy is being prepared in line with that feedback.

But Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater said the government “has dragged its heels” in finalising the strategy.

“This strategy is extremely important to progressing control of our most destructive pest animal currently in the valley and the Dandenongs,” Mr Clayton said.

According to Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater both State and Federal Government programs have funded professional deer control in the past 12 months in the Yellingbo area and over 200 deer have been culled through these programs.

The group is now calling for more to be done including the declaration of deer as a pest species and statewide targets and monitoring with immediate action in high priority areas.

A spokesperson for DELWP said Parks Victoria undertakes deer control in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Yellingbo and Warramate Nature Conservation Reserves.

“Yarra Ranges Shire Council received funding from the Victorian Government under the Biodiversity Response Planning Fund to undertake deer control as part of its Birds 2 Butterfields Habitat Corridor Improvements project,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re working with the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to develop a deer management strategy that addresses issues raised by the community which is expected to be released later this year.”

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