Red Rock Gorge Lookout is located at Sundown National Park, 16km outside of Ballandean.
Red Rock Gorge Lookout is located at Sundown National Park, 16km outside of Ballandean. LifeFlight

Major Southern Downs national park to close today

HIKERS, campers and outdoor enthusiasts will have to chose a new destination as Sundown National Park closes from today until June 11.

The popular national park will be off limits to the public for a major feral animal control program targeting deer and other invasive animals.

Accredited aerial marksmen will use helicopters and guns in an effort to control feral animal populations throughout the national park.

Ballandean capsicum farmer Sam Ricca said the more people that shoot the deer the better, as populations explode and cause large-scale destruction to crops.

 

WILD DEER: Nanango man Clark McGhie believes there's another side of the story for wild deer.Photo Contributed
WILD DEER: Once a rare sight, Sam Ricca said the wild deer had proliferated and were destroying crops in the Ballandean region. Photo Contributed

In recent years, Mr Ricca has noticed deer numbers expand by thousands.

"You probably see more deer out this way than kangaroos and they are breeding at a phenomenal rate," he said.

"They are coming right up to the house at night coming up and eating the grass and they are coming in numbers."

Last week, Mr Ricca shot nine deer within a kilometre of his house.

In large packs, deer devour crops and ravage plants with their movements.

But the large-scale culling program made a difference to farmers around the region, Mr Ricca said.

 

Dorrigo National Park.
Sundown National park will be closed until June 11. Julie Owen

"We notice when they do a bit of a cull in the national park it eases it a little bit here."

The operation is being conducted by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services in conjunction with the Southern Downs Regional Council.

"Removing feral animals from adjoining properties has led to a reduction in feral animals dispersing or relocating back onto Sundown National Park," a QPWS spokeswoman said.

Foxes, deer, feral pigs and feral goats will also be targeted in the shoot.

Annual shoots have been conducted since 2001.