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South Australia leads the nation through feral deer eradication program: Watt, Scriven

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The Hon. Murray Watt, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Emergency Management, The Hon. Clare Scriven, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development (SA), Minister for Forest Industries (SA), Joint Media Release, 18 July 2023

South Australia is leading the nation in removing feral deer, with the 10-year South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program aiming to eradicate the pest from the state by 2032.

Regarded as one of Australia’s worst pest animals in both rural and peri-urban areas, feral deer cost South Australian primary producers an estimated $36 million in direct productivity losses last year. In addition to primary industry costs, feral deer have significant impacts on the environment and public safety.

There were an estimated 40,000 feral deer estimated in South Australia in 2022, and since the program’s commencement in May 2022, over 8,000 feral deer have been removed.

One fallow deer may eat as much fodder as one-and-a-half sheep. The removal of 8,000 deer from the landscape is therefore the equivalent of removing 12,000 sheep worth of grazing pressure from the state’s pastures and native vegetation, meaning more food to go around for livestock and native wildlife.

The Limestone Coast Landscape Board lead the State, with more than 4,000 feral deer removed across more than 500,000 hectares, while over 3,400 were removed in the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board region.

The program uses a range of control tools, including ground and aerial shooting. Increasingly, aerial shoots are assisted by advanced thermal imaging technology so that target animals can be detected more easily in the environment, improving efficiency and humaneness.

The South Australian Feral Deer Eradication Program is a statewide partnership between the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), the Department for Environment and Water (DEW), landscape boards and Livestock SA and is jointly funded by both the State and Australian Governments.

Quotes attributable to Murray Watt:

The Albanese Government is pleased to partner with the Malinauskas Government to tackle pest animals in South Australia.

Feral deer can be incredibly destructive and cause damage to critical habitat.

By adopting best practice pest animal management, as well as improved coordination and information sharing, we can drive down the impacts on agricultural productivity and the environment.

Quotes attributable to Clare Scriven:

South Australia’s $17.3 billion primary industries and agribusiness sector is a vital part of our economy, supporting 71,000 jobs across the state, making the eradication of feral deer vitally important.

Eradicating feral deer will lead to increased profitability of pasture-fed livestock, cropping, horticulture and forestry industries, restoration and sustainability of native habitats, recovery of burnt bushland, road, and public safety, not to mention protection of our biosecurity.

The success of South Australia’s approach to date is already leading to interstate interest in how we are tackling the issue of feral deer.

The eradication of feral deer in our landscape, combined with achieving best practice management of farmed deer, is being achieved by Government and landscape board staff working with landholders and industry across the State.

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