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Deer control program to protect habitat for native species

Wednesday 5 March, 2014

A deer control program to reduce the numbers of introduced deer from the Dandenong Ranges National Park, Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve and Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve will be conducted over the next 12 months to reduce the environmental impact on native species of wildlife and vegetation.

“This program will seek to restore these parks and reduce the damage deer are causing. Deer are an introduced species in these parks and are having impacts on the biodiversity of native vegetation in the Dandenong Ranges, Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve and Warramate Hills Nature Conservation Reserve,” said Parks Vitoria District Manager Craig Bray.

The impacts of the deer are also being felt by endangered species such as the Leadbeater's Possum and the Helmeted Honeyeater whose habitat is damaged when Sambar and Fallow Deer thrash their antlers on trees.

The program is a partnership between Parks Victoria, Australian Deer Association and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and is supported by local friends groups and Zoos Victoria.

Dr Dan Harley from Zoos Victoria has been studying the last lowland population of Leadbeater’s Possum at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve for 20 years.

“The Leadbeaters Possum population has declined to just 40 individuals and habitat restoration is the key to saving the species at this site. Minimizing the impact of deer browsing on revegetation will be critical for success,” said Dr Harley.

Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater President Robert Anderson said “The Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater have been advocates of a deer control program both within and outside of the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve for many years. Loss of habitat and the destruction of revegetated areas have held back the recovery program of the Helmeted Honeyeater. A program that controls deer initially and continues to decrease deer numbers is most welcome.”

Friends of Leadbeater's Possum Vice President Sue Bendel said “The Friends of Leadbeater's Possum strongly support the proposed deer control program at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve as it will allow for revegetation to succeed, enhancing the declining habitat. This is the last remaining area for the endangered lowland Leadbeater's Possum.”

The program will be conducted using accredited marksmen and in adherence with strict conditions for public safety and animal welfare standards.

Highly skilled, accredited and authorised volunteer members of the Australian Deer Association and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia will conduct the deer removal under very strict conditions.

The affected parks will be closed for public safety during operations with advertising signs displayed at all formal entrance points. Deer removal operations will not be conducted on peak visitor days such as weekends, public holidays or during school holiday periods.

For more information and details of park closures call the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963.

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