Feral deer

Background

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:

  • shooting

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 (PDF 264.2 KB) 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:

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.

More information

Contacts

For Feral deer control advice

Biosecurity SA – Jennifer Gillis (Feral Deer Control Coordinator)

Phone: (08) 8429 0823
Email: Jennifer.Gillis3@sa.gov.au

Biosecurity SA - Invasive Species Unit:

Phone: (08) 8429 0823
Email: PIRSA.InvasiveSpecies@sa.gov.au

Landscape South Australia boards

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.

Page Last Reviewed: 30 Apr 2021
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