Parks and reserves across the ACT will be closed for periods over May and June to allow pest control operations to take place.
An aerial control operation will be run to manage populations of feral animals such as pigs and deer, which can damage the environment.
It follows two similar, successful operations via air undertaken last year by ACT Parks and Conservation Service.
Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the operation is one of many that focuses on reducing the impact of invasive species on the environment.
“Across our parks and reserves, feral pest animals like pigs and deer damage our threatened plant and animal species through grazing, antler rubbing, trampling, trail creation, ground disturbance and wallowing,” he said.
“This includes areas that are crucial to the ACT’s water supply, such as the Upper Cotter Catchment of Namadgi National Park.”
Mr Gentleman said it was particularly important to ensure the plants and animals at Namadgi National Park, which is still recovering from the 2019/20 bushfire season, were given the best chance to endure.
“[To do so], we need to control feral animal populations,” he explained.
About 80 per cent, or 82,700 ha, of Namadgi National Park was burned in the 2020 bushfires.
Following the fires, the ACT Government identified 27 risks and areas of damage including impacts on threatened ecological communities and threats to biodiversity by predation, feral herbivores (deer and pigs) and invasive species.
In response, the ACT Government developed a long-term Bushfire and Flood Recovery Plan, which highlighted a “real danger that some of those things that make Namadgi such a special place will be lost if action [was not taken] to repair damage and manage threats arising from the 2020 disasters”.
Most of the worst-hit areas of Namadgi reopened to the public just over a year ago, well ahead of the original timeline which had predicted these areas would remain closed until 2023.
Mr Gentleman said the community’s safety remained a priority and extensive precautions, such as buffer zones, clear signage and sweeps before every shoot, would be in place.
“Community members should not be alarmed by aircraft operating at the impacted areas,” Mr Gentleman said.
Control activities will be undertaken in accordance with best practices for the humane control of feral animals, the ACT Government confirmed.
“We understand these closures might affect some visitors’ travel plans. However, this program will help our environment and allow Namadgi to continue to recover,” Mr Gentleman said.
“Park and reserve closures are staged, so there are still many areas of Namadgi, Canberra Nature Park and the river reserves open during this time.”
The specific closures are:
- Namadgi South: 9 May – 20 May
- Namadgi North: 16 May – 25 May
- Lower Cotter Catchment: 16 May – 25 May
- Murrumbidgee River Corridor: 23 May – 29 May
- Molonglo: 23 May – 29 May
- Googong: 23 May – 3 June (open weekends)
For more information on closures or about parks and reserves, visit the ACT Parks website.