Journal article

Culling Reduces Fecal Pellet Deposition by Introduced Sambar (Rusa unicolor) in a Protected Water Catchment

Ami Bennett, Shane Haydon, Melita Stevens, Graeme Coulson



Introduced sambar (Rusa unicolor) occur at high density within the Upper Yarra Catchment, an important watershed for the supply of water to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Contamination by zoonotic pathogens in sambar fecal pellets poses a serious risk to water quality. We describe spatial and temporal patterns in distribution and density of sambar in the Upper Yarra Catchment between 2003 and 2012, and assess ground-based culling as a technique to reduce the risk of fecal contamination of the water supply. Sambar density, as indexed by fecal pellet deposition, was inversely related to distance from the reservoir, and aggregations of up to 70 sambar occurred on open flats adjacent to the res..

View full abstract


Funding Acknowledgements

This research was funded by Melbourne Water. Many thanks to Melbourne Water staff N. Rattray, M. Tucker, J. Rogers, H. Gooren, K. Reynolds, J. Tite, M. Malovic, R. Gray, and staff at Parks Victoria Woori Yallock for co-operation during the cull. M. Tucker collated sambar sex and age data; A. Whelan contributed to the collection of vantage point count data; G. Hepworth (The University of Melbourne) provided statistical advice; and N. Davis, S. Garnick, J. Cripps and several reviewers provided helpful comments to improve the draft manuscript.