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Call to control feral animals

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September 08, 2017

Invasive Species Council chief executive officer Andrew Cox said feral deer were a problem for farmers and the environment.

Video footage of a panicked wild deer out of control on a Melbourne road is a clear sign the Victorian Government urgently needs to tackle exploding numbers of the feral animals, state and national environment groups said last week.

Invasive Species Council chief executive officer Andrew Cox said feral deer were a problem for farmers and the environment.

‘‘Feral deer are a menace to our environment, to farmers and even to the public when they create havoc on our roads,’’ Mr Cox said.

‘‘In NSW’s Illawarra region they caused nine fatalities in a seven year stretch and 100 collisions with trains.

‘‘We don’t want to see that happen here in Victoria.

‘‘The video of a feral deer running down the middle of a major road is just a taste of what’s in store if the Victorian Government fails to clamp down on exploding numbers of feral deer on Melbourne’s outskirts and across the state by urgently coming up with a containment and control plan for the pest animals.’’

Victorian National Parks Association’s Phil Ingamells said some estimates put the number of feral deer in Victoria at one million and growing.

‘‘Victoria has its fair share of feral animals but none are increasing more rapidly than deer,’’ Mr Ingamells said.

‘‘They wallow in wetland areas, creating large mud pools at creek edges. They browse heavily on native plants and can ringbark trees by rubbing their antlers on them.’’

A recent Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the control of invasive animals on Crown land firmly recognised the need to control deer populations, saying professional pest control operators should be put to work, supported by urgent research efforts to develop new control options beyond ground shooting.

Environmental impacts of deer include:

■Trampling damage to stream-banks and wetlands.

■Damage to trees, ferns and shrubs from chewing and rubbing of bark (ringbarking).

■Browsing and damage to native plants and wildflowers leading to plant understorey loss, a reduction in plant biodiversity and the possibility of extinction of rare or threatened plants.

■Competition with native herbivores like wombats and wallabies for food and habitat.

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