Deer and Goats Blamed for Destroying Aquatic Ecosystems

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After reading this article, I can't help but feel that the Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach are drawing a very long bow or the article author is pushing an agenda. It seems deer are being blamed for just about anything at the moment and it smells of recreation reduction over animal reduction. No one wants to address the white elephant in the room, wild horses. 

The article from the Canberra Times stated: "A patchwork of laws and a lack of resources for rural landowners to control feral animals is harming efforts to keep Australian native fish alive in the Murrumbidgee River near the Snowy Mountains, according to an inquiry submission".

In a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry on feral pests, the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach said it wanted better mechanisms and more funding to reduce feral deer, goat and pig populations destroying aquatic ecosystems and threatened fish in water catchment areas.

After a small amount of research on their webpage, there is no mention of deer, goats or horses. The only mention of an introduced animal was "Introduced animal species (e.g. fish such as carp, mammals such as the rabbit and feral cats)".

I will add Im all for control however I like to see backed scientific evidence before I draw a conculsion. I recently visited the mentioned areas for a family camping trip and the only obvious sign along the rivers was that of wild horses. 

Reach facilitator Antia Brademann said "species like the Murray River cod or Macquarie perch relied on clear water to lay eggs and unmitigated flows to travel and breed across the Murrumbidgee.

The Murrumbidgee River starts near Cooma, passes through the ACT, before connecting to the Murray River in north-west

Victoria.

It was only voluntary for NSW landholders to control goats on their property and even if they wanted to, it would cost the landholders, according to Ms Brademann.

"Under the legislation, if an animal isn't a priority under the legislation, it doesn't receive funding support," Mr Brademann said.

"In some cases you might have landholders who might have have lifestyle or recreational purposes ... those landholders might not have the resources.

Plus, unless the goats or other feral animals were impacting landholder's business, they might have no incentive to deal with the pests", Ms Brademann said.

Ms Brademann said the solution would be to provide landholders with advice on dealing with feral pests, as well as infrastructure and resources for their removal.

"Unless you're getting everyone addressing the issue, you're going to have a substandard effect," she said.

"We would like to see more education around the need for feral animal control on a larger scale to benefit catchment health, especially where the protection of catchment health is really vital to protect high quality aquatic habitats in priority areas."

She pointed to recent calls to urgently fence off a three kilometre section of Tantangera Creek in Kosciuszko National Park to protect a critically endangered fish from habitat destruction by feral horses.

Ms Brademann's submission said deer were overgrazing riverbanks across the catchments and were destroying revegetation and bank stabilisation projects.

"Managing this problem is very difficult as it requires specialised fencing or landscape scale control projects," Ms Brademann said.

But she said governments needed to fund incentive programs to build deer fencing and revegetate landscapes.

"We're not calling for hard-hitting legislation," Ms Brademann said.

"We do need to find some cooperate way in which we manage these pests."

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