Alpine peatlands are a nationally threatened ecological community (as listed in the EPBC Act). As you can see from the photo below of a sambar deer wallowing in an alpine peatland, feral deer are a serious threat to these sensitive areas (along with feral horses). Imagine the time it will take for this sensitive area to recover from this devastation even if deer were removed now.
Parks Victoria has carried out trials on feral deer control focussed on peatlands in the Alpine National Park. The key research question was “Can ground shooting protect alpine peatlands from deer impacts”. The study looked at changes as a result of shooting on deer activity and behaviour and impacts on alpine peatlands along with the cost-effectiveness of the control effort.
The program utilised volunteer shooters and professional contractors.
The study found that (among other things):
- Where deer were being shot there was a 50% decrease in deer activity.
- Professional shooters shot 3-4 times more deer per hour than volunteers.
- The cost per deer shot was similar for volunteers and professionals.
- Thermal vision and spotlights were most effective.
This re-enforces the importance and efficiency of engaging professional shooters in control programs.
The VDCCN hosted a webinar recently where Dan Brown of Parks Victoria did a great presentation of the trials. You can watch it below.