All deer species in Australia were originally introduced by Europeans as game animals in the 19th century. In recent decades, deer have been released or escaped from commercial deer farms.
Feral deer may be Australia’s worst emerging pest problem.
There are six species of feral deer in Australia:
- Fallow deer Dama dama
- Red deer Cervus elaphus
- Hog deer Axis porcinus
- Chital deer (also known as axis or spotted deer) Axis axis
- Rusa deer (also known as Timor deer) Cervus timorensis
- Sambar deer Cervus unicolor
Sika deer and wapiti (elk) are also kept by some people.
Why are deer a problem?
Feral deer are an agricultural, environmental and social pest. They eat native plants, trample saplings and rub against mature plants.
Feral deer compete with native wildlife and livestock for grass, and contribute to erosion in creek and river systems. They can also be a hazard on roads, causing an increasing number of vehicle collisions.
Populations of feral deer are expanding and invading new areas, due to inadequate control of existing wild populations, deliberate introductions by recreational hunters and escape or release from deer farms.
What can we do?
Controlling escaped deer
It is the deer keeper’s responsibility to notify neighboring landowners of escaped farmed deer.
Anyone who has been notified by a deer keeper about escaped deer must allow 7 days before destroying, selling or disposing of any tagged farmed deer found wandering on their property.
Landowners who have seen a tagged deer on their property and have not been notified by a deer keeper must cull the deer, or contact a local deer keeper to capture them.
Managing feral deer
Landholders are responsible for culling all feral deer on their properties under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019.
The primary forms of management are:
You can also consider other options to help remove feral deer on your property by contacting:
- your neighbours to work together
- Farmer Assist / Sporting Shooter programs
- local hunters
- shooting contractors
- commercial harvesters
Engaging a commercial harvester
If feral deer are impacting your property you can choose to engage a commercial harvester. Commercial harvesters must be engaged directly by landholders. Our commercial harvester selection criteria () may assist with your choice.
You can find commercial harvesters by searching online or by contacting licenced game meat processors. There are five licenced game meat processors in South Australia, three are listed below:
- Crossroads Game Meats
Phone: 08 8642 6066
- Macro Group Australia
Mobile: 0418 830 912
Mobile: 0408 241 252
- Rosedale Meats
Mobile: 0409 091 052
Reporting feral deer
DeerScan provides a tool for reporting of feral deer, management activities undertaken and photos of the impacts of feral deer. The information is used to identify practical solutions and coordinated control of feral deer.
- South Australian Feral Deer Policy ()
- Pestsmart connect website
- Landscape South Australia Act 2019
- Landscape South Australia (General) Regulations 2020
- Determinations () for deer - provides fencing and tagging specifications for deer
- Managing feral deer fact sheet ( or )
- Selection criteria for choosing a commercial feral deer harvester ()
- Wild game field harvesting fact sheet ()
- Information on food safety for meat
- Keeping farmed deer
For Feral deer control advice
Biosecurity SA – Jennifer Gillis (Feral Deer Control Coordinator)
Phone: (08) 8429 0823
Biosecurity SA - Invasive Species Unit:
Phone: (08) 8429 0823
How to report an established pest animal
If you see an established pest animal, we want to hear about it!
Report sightings via the Feral Scan website or app.