Murrurundi residents asked to have their say on deer control

Murrurundi and surrounding residents are being asked to give their views on a potential on-ground deer control program in and around Murrurundi’s open spaces, which would be coordinated by Upper Hunter Shire Council with assistance from Hunter Local Land Services (LLS).

A short survey has been letterboxed to residents and is also available at council offices, closing 18 October 2018. The survey is not available online, as Council is only seeking the views of the local community.

The survey was also distributed at a public meeting this week attended by 60 people.

Hunter LLS and council representatives outlined the consultation process around the proposed on-ground deer control program in response to the rapid growth in deer numbers in the area.

The audience contributed their stories about the impact of deer on their properties including lack of feed for stock and horses, and the financial impact of fencing being destroyed and stock escaping.

The environmental impacts include the deer spreading seeds of plants they like such as St John’s Wort.

The majority of those at the meeting supported the on-ground program occurring.

Out of the meeting, 18 surveys from Murrurundi and Blandford residents have been received and all said deer numbers were too high.

·         17 said yes “on ground deer control is necessary in the Upper Hunter Shire” (1 no response)

·         14 said they saw deer close to property daily (2 weekly, 1 monthly, 1 a few times a year)

·         15 said deer had damaged their property (3 said no damage to property). Property damage listed from $100 to $50,000 and ’78 acres of fencing’.

·         12 have had problems with deer when driving – near misses / collisions

Mayor Wayne Bedggood said he personally supported action to reduce or remove the deer but that Council would only act based on community opinion and he urged locals to complete the survey.

“This is an invasive feral pest and I think the ‘manageable’ number around town is zero,” he said.

“My view is just one of many, and everyone who is being impacted should have their say.”

Hunter LLS has recommended their aerial shooting operations in more remote areas, be complemented by a ground-based operation within the open spaces of Murrurundi, conducted by Council with Hunter LLS assistance.

Council will consider the proposal in light of the results of the community consultation, at the next council ordinary meeting.

If it goes ahead, the program would be conducted by licenced and accredited professional shooters with noise-supressed firearms, at night, and carcasses would be removed for commercial use.

Hunter LLS will be talking further to landowners and seeking information about where the highest numbers of deer are being seen.

Council may make a submission to the current Senate Inquiry into “The impact of feral deer, pigs and goats in Australia” closing November 2 2018.