The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage developed a feed structure, with the aim of aggregating feral goats and deer to improve the efficiency of control programs. They trialled the structure in combination with commercially available salt blocks and oats to attract feral goats and deer to set locations in forested study areas. The feed structure exploits differences in the sizes and shapes of the feet of native herbivores (kangaroos and wallabies) to prevent them accessing the food, whilst making it accessible to feral goats and deer.
The feed structure was highly target-specific, with feral goats freely able to access salt blocks, whilst non-target native species were excluded. Other introduced ungulate species, such as fallow deer and red deer, successfully accessed the food in the feed structure, but at considerably lower rates than feral goats. The feed structure that is effective for feral goats is now commercially available.
This project will build on the foundational research and development by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage to refine the feed structure so that feral deer can readily use the feed structures. This project will test the refined structure (the Deer Aggregator, DA) in areas with high densities of kangaroos and possums and feral fallow or red deer.
Develop an effective deer aggregator that is accessible to feral deer and able to exclude non-target native animals.
In late 2018, two industrial design companies were contracted to brainstorm ideas for the design of the deer aggregator. Design criteria were that the aggregators should be cheap, preferably made from material or parts that are readily accessible, simple, lightweight and they should meet WH&S requirements. Several design ideas were submitted by the two companies. The project team selected one design to develop further for the trial, with the first prototype to be built before the end of April 2019.
Field sites are being considered for testing the first prototype of the aggregator.