Fallow deer, a declared pest, culled after causing destruction on Fleurieu Peninsula

KEEP AWAY: Delamere farmer Peter Filsell hopes a recent aerial cull of fallow deer will reduce the damage they cause around his and neighbouring properties. He has spent $30,000 on electric fencing to keep them out. Photo: Dani Brown.
KEEP AWAY: Delamere farmer Peter Filsell hopes a recent aerial cull of fallow deer will reduce the damage they cause around his and neighbouring properties. He has spent $30,000 on electric fencing to keep them out. Photo: Dani Brown.

FLEURIEU COAST – An aerial control operation undertaken across the Southern Fleurieu has helped address strong community concerns about the impact of feral deer with the shooting of 255 animals.

The target area included Deep Creek Conservation Park and 28 private properties in Hay Flat, Second Valley, Delamere, Deep Creek, and Tunkalilla.

The program was co-funded by the Natural Resources Management Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) and Forestry SA as part of a coordinated effort to reduce the impact of fallow deer on public safety, agricultural production and native species.

Megan Harper from Natural Resources AMLR said deer numbers had built up to the point where some locals were avoiding driving after dark for fear of a vehicle collision.

“We were receiving photos of 50-80 deer grazing in paddocks adjacent to the Second Valley Forest Reserve, and reports of damage to rare native vegetation in conservation areas,” Dr Harper said.

“As a result of this helicopter operation, which was achieved in just under nine hours, we’ve substantially reduced the core population and with it, the breeding potential for 2017.”

The helicopter shoot is one component of the deer control program on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Authorised ground shooting is also conducted in Second Valley Forest Reserve and on private properties year-round.

Dr Harper said pest animals were the cause of both economic and environmental damage and she underlined the responsibilities of both private landowners and public land managers to control pest animals such as feral deer on their land.

She said the NRM board and Natural Resources staff would continue to work with the local community on control measures.

Fallow deer wreak havoc across region

FLEURIEU COAST – Delamere farmer Peter Filsell is among Fleurieu Coast property owners tired of dealing with the destruction feral deer are causing across the landscape.

Mr Filsell, who is the president of the Parawa Ag Bureau, has spent $30,000 over the last five years on electric fencing and other measures around his property to try to stop fallow deer entering. 

He said a huge number of the animals were running riot across the Fleurieu.

“It’s widespread, from Delamere to Willow Creek on Range Road, through to Hay Flat, through to Kuitpo,” Mr Filsell said.

“They damage fences and eat the grass meant for livestock.”

He believed the deer population had been steadily increasing over the last 10 to 15 years, and combined with a large number of kangaroos, created a “definite problem”. He estimated at least 1000 lived across the Fleurieu.

“There has been incidents on the roads where people have nearly hit them,” he said.

Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges consulted land owners in the area about management of deer, which is a declared pest under the NRM Act.

Sustainable landscape team leader Ben Della Torre, who looks after the Fleurieu and Willunga Basin Area, said an aerial surveillance program over Second Valley Forest, Deep Creek Conservation Park and 11 private properties on May 16 last year gave Natural Resources baseline data to determine the deer distribution.

They found there was a high density, especially in the Second Valley area; an even higher density than that in the state’s south east.

A public forum was held at Second Valley where Natural Resources staff spoke about their intentions of conducting an aerial management program, and Mr Della Torre said those attendance showed “unanimous support for a cull”.

He said diminishing the numbers would reduce four main issues: native species damage like ringbarks and orchids, predation, public risk, and agriculture production damage.

“They create trails in scrubs which brings in foxes, which encourages predation on bandicoots and swamp rats. A lot of the small mammals on the Fleurieu are under threat as it is,” he said.

One marksman and one pilot took to the skies in a helicopter on May 2 and 3, shooting 255 deer over 7800 hectares. 

Mr Della Torre said the cull was just one piece of the puzzle of lessening the potential of an increase in the population.

He said other options were being looked into such as trapyards being trialled by Biosecurity SA, and plans for another aerial cull in a more refined target area were underway.