Groups call for deer action

Monbulk MP James Merlino looks at images of deer destruction with Alex Maisey and Gaye Gadsden.

By Romy Stephens

Monbulk MP James Merlino said he will take the issue of deer in the Yarra Ranges a step further after meeting with local environmental groups on 14 February.

Representatives from nine groups met with Mr Merlino to urge stronger action on feral deer across the region.

Briefing papers presented were supported by the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group, Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater, Friends of Sassafras Creek, Macclesfield Landcare, Monbulk Landcare, Johns Hill Landcare, Cardinia Deer Management Coalition and the Victorian National Parks Association.

The papers provided background into the issue – particularly around Sherbrooke Forest – and called for immediate funding for professional shooters and a commitment to long-term action across the state.

Mr Merlino said he is aware of the environmental impact deer are having and will work towards a resolution.

“I am very aware of the growing deer population and the problems they are causing the Dandenong Ranges.”

“I met with a number of local groups to hear further about the issue.”

“What is very clear is that we need to do more. I will be meeting with the Environment Minister to discuss this problem.”

According to a Yarra Ranges Council submission to a Federal Government Senate Enquiry into deer in 2018, many reserves in the municipality have traditionally shown high deer numbers.

The submission added that fauna monitoring in Monbulk and Butterfields Reserve in Emerald showed 4-5 times the number of deer in 2018 compared with previous years.

Long-term member of the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group and PhD candidate on lyrebirds Alex Maisey said deer are adding to other stresses on the local environment.

“Feral deer are pushing the forest to breaking point,” he said.

“The forest is already under incredible stress from climate change, weed encroachment,

predation of wildlife by foxes and cats, runoff from roads and roofs, and leaky septic systems.”

Yarra Ranges Environmentalist of the Year Bill Incoll said Sambar deer, in particular, have increased rapidly over the past 11 years.

“The main deer species in Sherbrooke is the Sambar and they are huge, up to 350kg,” he said.

“Numbers have dramatically increased since the 2009 bushfires and they are now causing enormous damage.”

Your first stop before buying a home. View the whole picture.