Pest control program helps drought and bushfire affected producers

Hunter Local Land Services has doubled efforts to target pest animals impacting the areas of the Manning Great Lakes and Hunter Valley hardest hit by drought and recent bushfires.

During autumn the Biosecurity Team has undertaken a combination of strategic programs involving aerial and on ground works to remove pest species across the region, to assist landholders rebuilding their farms and herds after such a devastating period.

Team Leader Luke Booth said the program has been far reaching, and utilising the skills of the Hunter Local Land Services team and contractors to assist landholders to control pest species.

“Over the last three years of the drought we saw an increased presence of pests on properties, as they came in search of feed and water, the bushfires further compounded that situation in many parts of our region,” said Luke Booth.

“Through a combination of intense strategic programs including ground and aerial works, utilising Professional Controllers and working closely with local wild dog associations and community groups we have redoubled efforts this autumn to control pest animals across the region.

This is the fourth successive annual aerial shoot in the region, aimed at directly impacting invasive species populations.

“Already we are seeing the positive cumulative impact of these repeated annual campaigns, with landholders reporting fewer pests returning to these properties over time,” said Luke.

“The program across the Hunter and Manning Great Lakes this year resulted in the removal of 765 deer, 714 pigs, 5 foxes and 2 wild dogs.”

“Our strategic programs are all planned in partnership with local associations and in line with the Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plan, to ensure our customers have a say in ensuring any local hotspots are targeted.”

In some areas of the Upper Hunter landholders are reporting deer numbers down by as much as two thirds on populations from two years ago.

“This is the fourth time we have undertaken an aerial shooting campaign across the district, and it is showing we are making a big impact on feral deer populations – which is great news for landholders trying to maintain feed and water supplies for stock in the worst drought on record,” said Luke.

“For producers to report they are able to carry more stock or their crops and pastures are surviving to harvest without being over grazed and wrecked by feral deer is a big success story.”

More than 200 properties across the region also participated in aerial baiting during May. Hunter Local Land Services has covered all costs of the aerial baiting program for landholders for the past two years, as part of ongoing drought support measures.

These regular autumn programs have been aided by the addition of Federal Government funding, to support areas impacted by bushfires over summer. In the Manning Great Lakes a professional controller has been engaged fulltime to work with landholders in fire affected areas, to target and remove pests impacting their livestock, especially wild dogs predating in the fire scar.

“We are here to support landholders as they recover from what has been a very difficult period across our region,” said Luke.

“Working together strategically to reduce and remove pest species not only assists landholders recovering from drought and fire, but native species who also often fall prey to, or have to compete for habitat with feral animals.”

For information on group control programs underway in your district, please contact our Biosecurity Team on 1300 795 299.

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