Cull nets hundreds

By Country News

A Parks Victoria deer aerial shooting trial has seen one deer shot about every eight minutes in the Alpine National Park, around Mt Bogong and the Bogong High Plains.

The second stage of the trial saw professional aerial marksman cull more than 130 deer in 18 hours as part of the May operation.

The aerial trial forms part of the comprehensive deer control trial Parks Victoria started in 2015, which has also involved on-ground operations utilising the expertise of contractors and volunteer shooters from the Australian Deer Association and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia.

The May operations adds to the 119 deer that were shot in the first stage of the trial in October.

According to Parks Victoria the operation targeted high-elevation isolated parts of the park, which contain sensitive alpine vegetation communities with high conservation value, but are difficult to access on foot.

During both operations the air crew noticed significant track networks and large wallows that had been formed by deer.

Chief conservation scientist Mark Norman said large numbers of deer were causing significant damage to vulnerable alpine wetlands, waterways, rare plant communities in the Alpine National Park and numerous native habitats in Victoria.

‘‘It will take a wide range of tools and continued investment to solve this large-scale issue, tools including professional and volunteer ground shooters and aerial shooting,’’ Dr Norman said.

‘‘A helicopter can access remote and steep terrain that is difficult to access by foot, enabling us to target deer in these areas of the landscape.’’