Giant fridge to put a freeze on Illawarra's feral deer

Chilling: The program responsible for managing feral deer in the Illawarra hopes to install a new giant freezer in West Dapto. File picture.

Chilling: The program responsible for managing feral deer in the Illawarra hopes to install a new giant freezer in West Dapto. File picture.

The organisation responsible for eradicating feral deer from the Illawarra escarpment hopes to install a 26,000 litre freezer to store animal carcasses at West Dapto.

South East Local Land Services has lodged an application with Wollongong City Council to install a six-metre long chiller at the Integral Energy Park, on Darkes Road.

The large chiller would be used by the Northern Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program, which has been working to “address the growing negative impacts of deer” in the region for the past six years.

About 1900 deer have been killed by the program in this time, with the chiller used to store their carcasses before they are distributed to zoos across the South Coast to feed big cats.

Read more: Deer targeted in pest shoot push

According to the development application for the chiller “an important component of the program is the temporary storage of deer once they are harvested”.

A similar chiller was located at Ian McLennan Park, however this stopped working last August, when the deer management program ceased operation pending a review.

The chiller proposal notes that a new management plan will be in place by June.

Local Land Services has asked to lease land for the giant freezer at the Integral Energy Park from the council for the next three years.

The freezer would be locked then accessed about four times a week, at about 3am, at the end of night shooting operations, by staff who would process and store the deer. 

Then, once a week during the day, zoo staff would need access to get the meat.

Last week, it was clear just how vital a functioning deer management program is to the Illawarra after a young stag ventured into Wollongong suburbia and was killed in the early hours of the morning on Mount Keira Road.

Wollongong City Council, along with Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, has joined a push from landholders and the Greens to overhaul the way deer controlled in NSW.

They hope the government will reclassify deer as a pest species, instead of their current classification as “game” to make hunting easier.

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