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SSAA funds ground-breaking deer research

SSAA funds ground-breaking deer research

SSAA Victoria and SSAA National are injecting $30,000 into ground-breaking research on Sambar deer. The Parks Victoria project will see the species captured and collared with GPS trackers, to provide valuable information about their movements and ecology. If successful, it will be the first time Sambar have been successfully captured and collared anywhere in the world.

SSAA Victoria President and National Vice President Denis Moroney said the organisation was proud to be at the forefront of deer research. “We are so fortunate to be in a strong financial position that allows us to fund this research,” Denis said. “We anticipate that this project will provide the facts and data we need to formulate sensible and fact-driven hunting regulations and control programs.”

The state and national bodies will both provide $15,000 over two years to the valuable pilot project. The aim of Stage one is to GPS collar up to eight deer on the Bogong High Plains, preferably a mix of mature males and females.  It will track the location of these deer over the course of a two-year period.

Other deer species have been captured and collared before for research purposes. In New Zealand, Sika deer have been successfully radio collared, as have White-Tailed deer and other species in the United States. Closer to home, Red deer have been successfully collared in Queensland. If successful, it will be the first time in recorded history that the illusive Sambar deer is capture and collared. Based on the results of those studies, Parks Victoria and SSAA are reasonably confident the collars will work effectively and provide valuable data.

The research will aim to answer the following:

  1. How does deer behaviour/movement vary daily and seasonally against weather variables?
  2. What is the extent of the home range of a Sambar deer?
  3. What habitats do deer prefer and how do they use these habitats?
  4. Where do Sambar from high elevation go in winter? Do they move down the elevation gradient and, if so, how far? Is control of alpine sambar better achieved away from peatlands during the winter months?

The long-term aim of the project is to improve the design and development of cost-effective, targeted control programs to protect key environmental assets in alpine areas. GPS tracking collars will be fitted to both male and female Sambar, and, at a specific time, they will drop off the animals.

“We are well aware that some of the project’s objectives do not necessarily align exactly with SSAA’s views on deer,” Denis said. “However, hunters have long called for accurate data on Sambar deer. Funding the research provides us input into its planning and operation, as well as access to the data.”

A project working group, consisting of representatives from Parks Victoria, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ACT Parks and Conservation Service and the SSAA Victoria, has been established to co-ordinate the project.

SSAA has offered in-kind assistance to the project. If volunteer opportunities arise when the project progresses, the Association will inform members.

To view SSAA Victoria’s letter of commitment to the program (sent to Parks Victoria), click here.