A new feature of the popular Centre for Invasive Species Solutions FeralScan digital community surveillance program, DeerScan, has had more than 1,700 sightings reported in its first 6 months of use, helping to inform biosecurity agencies and community groups where to prioritise management action.
Wild deer are now listed as a high priority pest animal in many jurisdictions across Australia and more stories are emerging of landholders being increasingly impacted by deer, while members of the public are very concerned about deer damage in public land.
Peter West, National Coordinator of FeralScan and Invasive Species Officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said the number of reports coming through DeerScan in recent months has helped to highlight problem areas and enabled us to develop detailed knowledge of where and how deer are using the landscape.
“This information is now allowing land managers and governments to better target management strategies to reduce deer impacts to farms and the environment,” Mr West said.
However, Mr West also reiterated that all data collected through DeerScan is managed securely and exact locations of deer sightings are not made publicly available.
In NSW, Cumberland Land Conservancy member Linda Brown is an avid user and advocate of DeerScan and said that knowing more about the distribution, rate of spread and the damage deer cause is imperative to ensure their Western Sydney community can take focused action to reduce the impacts deer are causing.
“We started using DeerScan as an additional tool to assist in mapping the damage they cause, while also using wildlife monitoring cameras to measure sightings and abundance.
“DeerScan is helping us take an integrated approach to our monitoring methods and our community is using DeerScan as a group to work together to identify problem areas.
“The tool is adding value to our monitoring program as it also ensures we work closely with neighbouring landholders and NSW Local Land Services so we can all take collective action.
“We are finding DeerScan a really great tool and the support we receive from Peter West is amazing to ensure we get the best information possible through our community-led monitoring and management program,” Ms Brown said.
NSW Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Adam Marshall said these results go to show just how much the NSW wild deer population has exploded in recent years and why it was necessary to take bold action to tackle the issue.
“Removing the game status of deer gives landholders more flexibility to manage the pest, and brings its classification into line with other pest animals such as wild dogs, foxes, rabbits and pigs.
“The DeerScan data will give us a clearer picture of just how many deer there are across the State and where they are located, which will help shape our policies moving forward,” Mr Marshall said.
Jen Gillis, the South Australia Deer Control Coordinator with Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) said wild deer numbers are currently the highest they’ve ever been and continue to cause significant economic, environmental and social impacts across key areas of the state.
“With use of the DeerScan monitoring tool increasing among our agricultural landholder groups, it gives us all more of an idea of where they are and how we can best manage them.
“We are finding more and more landholders very interested in using DeerScan to report where they are seeing deer and experiencing impacts from deer. We are now setting up private groups within the DeerScan website so that information can be shared between neighbouring properties to ensure appropriate action.
“Even if you aren’t a landholder, individuals can record sightings into DeerScan, and the more people who use DeerScan the better informed we will be to allocate management to the right places at the right time,” Ms Gillis said.
To set up your community group within the program, visit the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
The FeralScan community surveillance program is funded through the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions with financial and in-kind support from the Australian Government, NSW DPI and Australian Wool Innovation.