Wild deer are creating havoc on the University of Wollongong’s latest environmental project.
Up to 50 deer have been seen in the recently constructed frog ponds at the foothills of Mount Keira. The University of Wollongong built the ponds to improve the biodiversity of the Illawarra area. The university is installing fencing around the ponds to stop the deer from destroying the habitat.
Landscape Supervisor Mark Spence said the deer are creating unfavourable conditions for frogs and tadpoles by stirring up the water.
“When we can isolate the ponds from the deer and plant it up, it’s only going to improve,” Mr Spence said.
Mr Spence plans to build a fence that has entrance points to allow other wildlife, such as bandicoots, to use the space. The pond took three days to build, and $5000 was invested into the project.
“We went up there on site and just started scratching around. And three days with an excavator, all of a sudden we had these three fantastic ponds and a water source that seems to be almost continually going in them to keep them wet,” he said.
Mr Spence said the frog ponds will have a big impact on biodiversity in the Illawarra. Trail cameras have been installed in nearby trees to monitor the activity in the ponds.
“We had frogs in there from day one. Our wild native locals know all about it,” Mr Spence said.
Landscape coordinator Mark Haining said it was rewarding to see an instant use of the ponds.
“We have three different species of ducks, two that are native, move in,” he said.
“One family moved in straight away. It started with one duck, then a partner came and next minute there were babies here.”
The ponds have also created an opportunity for research. Previously, university students needed to travel elsewhere to study frogs and wetlands. The learning and teaching ponds will provide students with practical experience on the Wollongong campus.
“We really want to facilitate the learning and teaching experience here at the university,” Mr Spence said.