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It’s Feral Friday: deer

26 September 2019

This month, Friday Feedback is putting the spotlight on invasive animals and the tools available to help manage them. Week three’s feature looks at an emerging pest animal threat: feral deer.

To ensure a coordinated approach to deer control, MLA’s investment in this area is largely through its support of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

  Fast facts

  • There are six species of feral deer in Australia: fallow; red or wapiti; hog; chital, axis or spotted deer; Timor or rusa; and sambar. Fallow deer are the most widespread.
  • All states and territories have at least one species of feral deer present.
  • In some states (NSW, Victoria and Tasmania), deer are classified as a ‘game species’ and considered a valued hunting resource. NSW just changed its regulations this month to remove some of that protection – deer will now be treated as a pest animal on private land.
  • Feral deer are a declared pest animal in WA, SA, NT, ACT and Queensland.

Impacts

Deer compete for pasture with grazing animals, damage farm infrastructure and the environment, and are potential carriers of livestock diseases, such as foot and mouth.

New research projects are underway to assess the full extent of these issues and their impacts on livestock producers e.g. loss of productivity, rise in production costs and increased biosecurity risk. Click on the links in ‘industry action’ below to find out more about each project.

Industry action

In late 2016, the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (formerly Invasive Animals CRC) hosted a National Workshop on Deer Management.

The workshop spawned Australia’s first large-scale collaboration to tackle the escalating threat of feral deer, involving five state and territory governments, three local councils, three universities and three private environmental groups.

The five-year, $8.7 million research collaboration got underway in 2018. It’s focused on four projects nationally:

What can producers do?

The research projects listed above are in progress and, over coming years, results will be used to develop toolkits for land managers. These toolkits will provide livestock producers with information on best practice deer management techniques, new tools for integrated pest control (including wild dogs and potentially foxes) and monitoring (see ‘DeerScan’ below).

In the meantime, ground shooting is still considered the most effective technique for reducing feral deer populations. Download PestSmart’s Standard Operating Procedure for Ground shooting of feral deer for more details:

Report feral deer using DeerScan

Producers and the broader community are encouraged to record both new and historical observations of deer via the DeerScan app or website: feralscan.org.au/deerscan

Use DeerScan to map sightings, report problems or damage caused by deer, and document control actions. This will help build a detailed picture of deer populations and will also keep neighbours and local biosecurity authorities up-to-date on current deer problems.