Deer session provides information but no solution
by DAVID HOGG
6th October 2020
NILLUMBIK COUNCIL hosted a two-hour online webinar Deer Information Session on September 12 to address the continuing problem of wild Sambar deer causing considerable destruction in the shire.
A Council spokesperson has told the Diary “198 people booked a place at the deer webinar, with 270 people tuning in”.
This is a surprisingly high number, particularly as other household members not counted may have been watching as well, and perhaps indicates the seriousness of the deer problem in the Shire.
Kirsten Reedy and Michelle Hanslow from Nillumbik’s environment team provided a wealth of information on the origins, distribution and impacts of the various species of deer, but locals focussed on the Sambar species as being the ones causing most of the destruction in the Warrandyte area.
On hand were representatives from professional and sporting shooters to explain their positions, although none would be drawn on the costs involved or the local requirements for engaging them.
Increasing populations of deer in Nillumbik, in rural and suburban areas, are causing understandable concern for many residents.
These introduced animals are now widely regarded as pests, come into Nillumbik from the north and are heading south into the Warrandyte State Park.
The river is no barrier to them and they will happily swim across it.
The Diary has been following the problems these beasts are causing, and the subject was comprehensively covered by James Poyner in our June edition last year and covered the ongoing dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy.
Nillumbik Shire Council has recently been successful in receiving two, one-year grants from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Communities Environment Program to build the capacity of the local community to engage in targeted local area deer control options via delivery of educational programs related to deer management.
This webinar was one of the resulting initiatives; the other is the Collaborative Community Deer Action across Nillumbik project, details of which you can find on the Council website.
The latter project will involve a collaborative approach which might include; field days, workshops, practical demonstrations, citizen science activities, and site inspections.
Our attention was drawn to the Deer Scan website, which can be found at www.feralscan.org.au/deerscan/ which encourages residents to log deer sightings and has a downloadable app.
Feedback from North Warrandyte residents was that the session was full of good and useful information for those with little knowledge of the problems, but that those who had been battling the problems for a while found little practical advice on how to handle it.
Fencing to exclude deer is very expensive and causes problems to the natural flow of other native fauna particularly kangaroos and wallabies.
One North Warrandyte resident on a two-hectare block had tried to engage sporting shooters but fell foul of getting approval from police and agreement from some neighbours for them to operate on his property.
As he said “It only takes one person in five within earshot of a gun to refuse to agree and you can’t cull them; and in Warrandyte that pretty much means no shooting”.
His approach to professional shooters found that they were expensive, and it was not worth their while to look for one or two deer on a smaller block when they could cull tens of deer at a time on a larger rural farm block.
Another resident on a block over three hectares had engaged a professional shooter at a fee and he had culled four deer.
Certainly, it was clear that Council at this time is happy to provide advice, but not to financially subsidise any culling operations.