Deer cull trials in Wilsons Promontory and Alpine National Parks

SSAA members will be extending their role in Park Victoria’s campaign to reduce deer numbers throughout the state when they link up with Parks Victoria and the Australian Deer Association to trial two deer population control programs within the Wilsons Promontory National Park and the Alpine National Park.

The iconic Wilsons Promontory National Park, located in the Gippsland area, will be closed from August 18 to 20 as shooters move in to cull some of the deer. The closure will also enable Parks Victoria staff to implement maintenance work on cabins, huts and other intrinsic bits and pieces.

The latest development follows the SSAA’s contribution towards deer culls in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Yellingbo and Gruyere. These activities saw 100 deer culled last year. But even then, there were calls from environmental groups for more deer to be targeted to protect native species and vegetation.

It seems that the authorities have taken these concerns on board. The Great Southern Star in Leongatha reports that Roger Fenwick, Parks Victoria’s regional operations manager, has given his backing to the initiative. “The proposed trial seeks to build our knowledge and understanding of the impact of the population of hog deer on the health of the Prom, its habitat and endangered and vulnerable plant species within the park,” Mr Fenwick said. “It will also involve a monitoring program to ensure we can measure the effectiveness of the operation.”

Wilsons Promontory National Park, affectionately dubbed ‘The Prom’, is one of Victoria’s most revered spots. At the southern tip of mainland Australia, it boasts stunning scenery with towering granite mountains, unspoilt forests, rainforests, plus expansive beaches and coastlines.

Meanwhile, the scheme in the Alpine National Park, located in the Central Highlands and Alpine regions of Victoria, will involve monitored culling by ground shooting in an attempt to curtail the environmental damage to flora and fauna that deer are causing throughout the region.

Acting Chief Executive for Parks Victoria Chris Rose said there had been a significant increase in the adverse effects of sambar deer within the area over the past decade. “Deer are degrading fragile environments such as the alpine peatlands through grazing, trampling and wallowing, which is of great concern,” said Chris.

The initial mission was carefully orchestrated and produced the desired results. “This first operation with volunteers from the SSAA Victoria and ADA involved 12 hunters and four Parks Victoria staff,” said SSAA Victoria Pest Management Coordinator Rhys Coote. “Four deer were shot on the opening day across an approximate 400-hectare area of the park.”

Culls are scheduled to occur at designated intervals throughout the year, depending on weather conditions. Highly skilled and accredited volunteers from SSAA Victoria and the ADA are implementing the procedures.

“This is a strictly controlled park management activity,” said Chris. “We’re really pleased to be working with the SSAA and ADA members involved in this important program.”

Deer removal measures are being undertaken away from busy areas and at times when visitor numbers are estimated to be at their lowest. It is hoped that there will be no park closures.

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