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Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program

August 2018

The issue

Wild deer were declared a pest by Wollongong City Council as part of their Vertebrate Pest Policy in 2010.

Deer are classified as a non-indigenous game animal under the Game Animal Act and a license was required to hunt them on private and public land. In June 2017 the NSW Government suspended restrictions on hunting deer in nine local government areas, including Wollongong. In November 2018 the restrictions were suspended statewide.

The South East Local Land Services Regional Pest Animal Committee comprised of key local biosecurity stakeholders including private land managers who have skills and experience in pest animal management and or strategic planning,has developed the South East Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plan, Feral Deer are identified as a priority pest under the Plan.

Also a State Wild Deer Management Strategy is currently in development. The overarching aim of the NSW Wild Deer Management Strategy 2018-2021 will be to reduce the negative impacts of wild deer within our state. The strategy is a key commitment of the NSW Government response to the 2016 Natural Resources Commission State-wide review of pest animal management.

The program

Wollongong City Council requested assistance from the former Cumberland LHPA (now South East Local Land Services) to address the wild deer problem and the Northern Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program (NIWDMP) commenced in May 2011.

There were significant challenges involved in implementing a program of this nature in a peri-urban environment. The program maintained safety protocols and procedures and was in regular contact with affected land managers and NSW Police.

The NIWDMP has operated for eight years without any incident and has safely removed more than 3,500 deer from Northern Illawarra.

Program review

An evaluation of the NIWDMP was commissioned in 2016 to review the program’s performance and to provide recommendations for future initiatives.

The Key recommendations of the evaluation that South East Local Land Services will incorporate in the future are:

  1. The NIWDMP, or a similar program of control, should continue to be supported and delivered through the Local Land Services program coordinator.
  2. Future iterations of the program should seek to reduce the environmental damage caused by deer, particularly where there are any key environmental assets at risk.
  3. Future deer control in the area should adopt a regional perspective.
  4. Monitoring of the program should be continued, including collecting data directly related to the outcomes/objectives of the revised program.
  5. In developing a new program, the role and value of community engagement should be carefully considered.
  6. Any future version of the NIWDMP should consider maintaining an element of research.
  7. In any future program, staff should continue to liaise with public land managers, seeking opportunities to conduct operations on their land where strategic opportunities exist.
  8. Consider how the learnings from the NIWDMP can be shared more broadly.

Plan for the future

To ensure that the South East Local Land Services provides the optimal service in line with the recommendations, it has reviewed the program to deliver an updated goal and corresponding outcomes for 2018 onwards.

The program has been renamed the Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program (IWDMP) to allow landholders and businesses within the whole Illawarra region to participate.

The goal of the program is to ‘Sustain a collaborative approach to manage the biosecurity risk of wild deer in the Illawarra’.

The four program outcomes identified to achieve this are:

  1. economic, social and environmental deer impacts are minimised
  2. the Illawarra community shares the responsibility of deer management
  3. the program is safe for people and is ethical
  4. the program is collaborative and financially sustainable.

Tender process

A tender process for the revised program was undertaken in 2017/18 and contractors appointed under the tender process have been operating since June 2018.

A NSW Department of Industry procurement team was involved in the tender process.

The tender process was observed by an external independent Probity Advisor (OCM). OCM provided a probity report which stated that it did not observe and concerns with the process from a probity perspective.

Plan partners

The program is managed by both an Operational Committee and a Governance committee with partners from:

  • South East Local Land Services
  • NSW Police
  • RSPCA
  • Wollongong Council
  • South 32 – Illawarra Metallurgical Coal
  • Sydney Trains
  • National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Water NSW
  • Office of Environment and Heritage
  • Contractors appointed via tender process.

Further information

The program aims to offer land managers and businesses the opportunity to fulfill their General Biosecurity Duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015(which came into effect on 1 July 2017), through the reduction of the negative impacts of wild deer within NSW.

To find out more about the program contact the South Coast local area office in Berry on 4464 6000.