Information and Resources

Victorian Deer Control Resources

Resource categories:

  • All
  • distribution
  • impacts
  • monitoring
  • plans and strategies
  • population dynamics
  • species information
  • tools and methods
All
  • All
  • distribution
  • impacts
  • monitoring
  • plans and strategies
  • population dynamics
  • species information
  • tools and methods

2016 National Wild Deer Management Workshop Proceedings

Six introduced deer species occur in the wild in Australia, with all states and territories having at least one species present. In comparison to other introduced ungulates in Australia the impacts of wild deer have not been well documented. Globally, wild deer can have a wide variety of negative economic, social and environmental impacts – and some of these impacts are being reported in parts of Australia. However, investment in research and innovation to understand and minimise the negative impacts of wild deer has been ad hoc, with no national coordination. This workshop was held to identify national priorities for research and innovation to improve understanding and management of wild deer impacts in Australia.

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2016 Operations Workshop: Deer & other Ungulates

In early November 2016, around 40 participants gathered at Howman’s Gap Alpine Centre for the biennial Australian Alps Operations workshop. This report includes the workshop highlights and discussion points

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A field method for rapidly assessing deer density and impacts in forested ecosystems

Overabundant deer populations can cause severe ecological impacts. To inform management decisions and assess the effectiveness of mitigation strategies, land managers require a rapid and cost-effective method for collecting data on both deer density and impacts.

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A Framework for Developing a Community-based Deer Management Program

This Framework, which is based on the experience and knowledge gained through the Harrietville Living with Deer project, is for use by land managers and communities wanting to develop a community response to deer impacts in a Victorian community.

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A monitoring protocol for assessing changes in deer relative abundance and deer impacts at Lake Tyers, Victoria, Part 1 – Rationale

The objective of this report is to develop an experimental design and field monitoring method to assess the effectiveness of the landscape-scale Deer Control Program in reducing the impacts of sambar on native vegetation in the Lake Tyers area.

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A monitoring protocol for assessing changes in deer relative abundance and deer impacts at Lake Tyers, Victoria, Part 2:

This document is Part 2 of the monitoring protocol. It describes the equipment required and how to prepare, set up and conduct the monitoring surveys.

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A pilot study examining the ecological and human dimensions of wild deer management, Nariel Valley Victoria

This study explored the ecological and sociological aspects of wild deer management in the Nariel Valley, establishing preliminary data on wild deer abundance and ecological damage. In addition the study examined landholder attitudes toward wild deer to determine some of the factors that might influence people’s attitudes, and the implications for management.

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A systematic review of the impacts and management of introduced deer (family Cervidae) in Australia

Authors Naomi E. Davis, Ami Bennett, David M. Forsyth, David M. J. S. Bowman, Edward C. Lefroy, Samuel W. Wood, Andrew P. Woolnough, Peter West, Jordan O. Hampton and Christopher N. Johnson Abstract Deer are among the world’s most successful invasive mammals and can have substantial deleterious impacts on natural …

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Abundance and population genetics of Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) in Victoria

This study aimed to estimate the abundance and distribution of Hog Deer across their range as well as investigate the genetics of the Hog Deer population to examine genetic diversity, population structure and connectivity between local populations as well as effective population size.

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Agricultural impacts of wild deer in Victoria

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) commissioned the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research to evaluate the agricultural impacts of deer in Victoria.

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Animal welfare outcomes of helicopter-based shooting of deer in Australia

Helicopter-based shooting has been widely used to kill deer in Australasia, but the animal welfare outcomes of this technique have not been evaluated.

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Cardinia Creek Catchment Thermal Surveys Report

Author Tarnya Cox, Research Scientist Department of Primary Industries, Vertebrate Pest Research Unit Summary A thermal survey of Cardinia Creek Catchment was undertaken from 3-4 July 2021. Deer were recorded on 28 of the 35 transects flown during the survey. There were 78 observations of deer (largest group size = …

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Collective Impact in Australia

The rapid adoption of collective impact in Australia and overseas is testament to the fact that current responses to the complex issues of contemporary families and communities are inadequate, and that a holistic and coordinated response resonates with practitioners in the social services sector.

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Counting the doe; feral deer could cost Victoria over $2 billion

A new independent report from Frontier Economics warns that not controlling the impacts of feral deer in Victoria could cost the community between $1.5 billion and $2.2 billion over the next 30 years.

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Deer exclusion fencing

In this video, the Upper Murray Landcare Network presents some examples of fencing methods used in that area to protect your assets from the impact of feral deer.

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Distributions of Fallow Deer, Red Deer, Hog Deer and Chital Deer in Victoria

Introduced deer species can have negative impacts on agricultural and environmental values. There is concern that deer species are expanding their Victorian distributions through natural and human-assisted dispersal, increasing the biosecurity risk to Victoria. Understanding the current distributions of deer species in Victoria will help inform their management, including as an important game resource.

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Distributions of Sambar Deer, Rusa Deer and Sika Deer in Victoria

Introduced deer species are important game animals in Victoria, but in some situations they can have negative impacts on agricultural and environmental values. There is concern that deer species are expanding their Victorian distributions through natural and human-assisted dispersal. Understanding the current distributions of deer species in Victoria will help inform their management.

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Ecological and Agricultural Impacts of Introduced Deer across the Australian Alps

Deer are among the most introduced of all large mammals around the world (Lever 1985). This is certainly the case in the southern hemisphere, including Australia and New Zealand (Moriarty 2004a). In both countries, a number of species of deer have increased massively in abundance, as well as distribution, since being introduced. Côte et al. (2004) reviewed the ecological impacts of deer overabundance globally, finding that through their foraging activities they affect the growth and survival of many herb, shrub and tree plant species, changing patterns of relative abundance and vegetation dynamics. Since they are highly adapted large herbivores with multi-chambered stomachs capable of microbial digestion of cellulose and utilisation of relatively low quality forage, most plant species are at potential risk. In turn, these negative impacts on plants can flow on to other organisms including insects, birds and other mammals. Long-term effects of browsing can include a reduction in vegetation cover as well as a loss in diversity of plant species (Rose and Platt 1987; Stewart et al. 1987; Husheer et al. 2003; Husheer and Frampton 2005; Husheer 2007).

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Economic contribution of recreational hunting in Victoria

This report presents the results of research into the economic, health and wellbeing benefits of recreational hunting by Victorian game licence holders. The scope of the project is limited to expenditure on recreational hunting in Victoria by game licence holders and the resulting flow on economic contribution. This study is not a benefit-cost analysis that assesses the expected benefits and costs of recreational hunting.

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Effects of the Black Saturday fires on Sambar Deer occupancy and abundance

‘Reduction in biodiversity of native vegetation by Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor)’ has been listed as a threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, and there is concern that native vegetation may be vulnerable to impacts of Sambar Deer immediately post-fire. However, little is known about the impacts of fire on the population levels of Sambar Deer, except that deer are sometimes killed. The objective of this project was to evaluate the effects of the Black Saturday fires on occupancy and abundance of Sambar Deer using pre- and post-fire data from burnt and unburnt habitat.

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Emergency Response Aerial Shooting Operation – Summary Report

Aerial shooting from helicopters as an emergency response operation is a highly effective and efficient way to manage introduced animals for the benefit to biodiversity, especially where there is good visibility and in inaccessible or remote terrain. The open canopy, loss of understorey and the congregation of animals around scarce resources as a result of the 2019-20 bushfires provided a time-critical management opportunity perfectly suited for aerial shooting.

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Estimates of Harvest for Deer, Duck and Quail in Victoria: Results from Surveys of Victorian Game Licence Holders in 2013

A telephone survey of Victorian hunters was conducted during the 2013 hunting seasons for deer, duck and quail to determine the total harvest for each game type. Game licence holders for each game type (deer, duck and quail) were randomly sampled and interviewed by telephone at intervals during the respective game seasons.

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Estimates of maximum annual population growth rates of mammals and their application in wildlife management

In many situations where rm cannot be estimated in the field, or demographic data other than age at first reproduction is lacking, our approach provides an estimate of rm that can be used in population and management models, perhaps most importantly to estimate the proportion of a population that if removed on a sustained basis would drive the population extinct. Our approach can be applied to taxa other than mammals.

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Estimates of the 2020 deer harvest in Victoria

To effectively manage game species, it is important to quantify the numbers harvested. To ascertain levels of deer harvested, since 2009, Victorian State Government game management agencies have commissioned a series of regular telephone surveys of randomly selected Game Licence holders endorsed to hunt deer during the game hunting season.

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Evaluation of an exclusion plot design for determining the impacts of native and exotic herbivores on forest understoreys

Cervus unicolor (sambar) were introduced to Australia in the 1860s (Bentley 1998) and have since expanded their range throughout eastern Victoria and more recently into New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (Moriarty 2004). They are a large deer; mature hinds weigh 130–150 kg and stand up to 1150 mm at the shoulder and stags weigh 200–250 kg and are up to 1300 mm at the shoulder (Bentley 1998; Mason 2006). C. unicolor are opportunistic in their food selection, and depending on availability may be classed as predominantly browsers (Burke 1982; Ngampongsai 1987; Shea et al. 1990; Semiadi et al. 1995), grazers (Padmalal et al. 2003) or intermediate feeders consuming approximately equal quantities of both browse and graze food plants (King 1990; Varman and Sukumar 1993; Stafford 1997). Selective browsing by C. unicolor may impact on species abundance and distribution, and thereby alter species composition of forest types, while social behaviours, such as rubbing and wallowing, may lead to impacts on water quality and biodiversity.

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Functional responses of an apex predator and a mesopredator to an invading ungulate: Dingoes, red foxes and sambar deer in south-east Australia

Biological invasions by large herbivores involve the establishment of novel interactions with the receiving mammalian carnivore community, but understanding these interactions is difficult due to the large spatiotemporal scales at which such dynamics would occur.

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Guide to Monitoring Methods

Monitoring can be done in different ways. This guide lists common monitoring tools available to assist in deer control work.

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Impact of feral deer to the environment – Cape Liptrap

A Cape Liptrap resident talks about the impact of fallow deer on their property.

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Introduced Deer Field Identification Guide for the Australian Alps

Introduced deer are recognised as a major and widespread component of the Australian biota and have an unknown but potentially large impact on the landscapes they now inhabit (Moriarty 2004; Van Dyk and Strahan 2008). This is certainly the case in the Australian Alps, where several species of deer are common and most likely increasing in abundance. The current handbook, developed in recognition of this emerging issue, aims to be a practical guide for ACT Parks and Conservation, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Parks Victoria staff involved in management of introduced deer within conservation reserves across the Alps.

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Methodology matters when estimating deer abundance: a global systematic review and recommendations for improvements

Deer (Cervidae) are key components of many ecosystems and estimating deer abundance or density is important to understanding these roles. Many field methods have been used to estimate deer abundance and density, but the factors determining where, when, and why a method was used, and its usefulness, have not been investigated.

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Peri-urban Deer Control Plan 2021–26

Peri-urban Deer Control Plan 2021–26 (the Plan) is Victoria’s plan to reduce the impact of deer across the peri-urban region east and north of Melbourne.

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Pest Animal and Weed Management Survey 2016–19

This report presents the key results from a national survey of agricultural land managers about pest and weed management on their property and local area undertaken by ABARES in 2016 and 2019. A total of 6,470 land managers participated in 2016 and a slightly larger group of 8,059 participated in a second survey conducted in 2019.

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Pheasant Creek Deer Exclusion Fencing

This small patch of native habitat within the Pheasant Creek Flora Reserve is home to the critically endangered Shelley (or Summer) Leek-orchid and over 40 other threatened species. After a fire went through the reserve last summer, DELWP and Parks Victoria in conjunction with the Upper Murray landcare Network, constructed a 5-hectare deer exclusion fence to support its recovery and provide long-term protection from introduced deer.

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Predicting deer–vehicle collision risk across Victoria, Australia

The risk of deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs) is increasing in south-east Australia as populations of introduced deer expand rapidly. There are no investigations of the spatial and temporal patterns of DVC or predictions of where such collisions are most likely to occur.

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Quantifying variations in browsing pressure caused by feral deer for a range of threatened ecological communities and plant growth forms

Globally, high-density populations of feral deer have been associated with a range of negative ecological consequences. Within Australia, limited quantitative research has assessed the impacts of deer, particularly in threatened ecological communities (TECs). Our study aimed to quantify the impact of feral deer on the herbivory of a range of woody plant species, non-woody growth forms and TECs; and assess whether feral deer increase herbivory in TECs above background rates caused by native herbivores. We surveyed 356 transects across 89 sites representing eight TECs and collected herbivory data for woody and non-woody plants. At each site, we recorded the presence or absence of deer sign and abundance of macropod pellets to account for variations in herbivory between groups of sympatric species. Generalised linear mixed models were developed to predict: (i) proportion of individual plants browsed (or grazed); and (ii) average browsing (or grazing) intensity for woody plant species and non-woody plants. Controlling for macropod abundance, we found the average grazing intensity and proportion of non-woody plants grazed was higher when deer were present compared to absent.

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Recording feral deer presence at Cape Liptrap

In this video, landowners in the Cape Liptrap area describe the impact of feral deer on their properties and why they believe recording deer presence is important. There is then a presentation of how to use the Deer Scan app.

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Reproductive seasonality and rate of increase of wild sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) in a new environment, Victoria, Australia

Sambar (Rusa unicolor) are the most numerous and rapidly expanding of Australia’s six introduced deer species, however, there is little information about the reproductive biology of sambar deer in their natural habitat. To better predict and manage wild sambar populations in Australia it is important to understand their reproductive seasonality and rate of population growth. From results of the present study, there is reporting of field estimates of age at first breeding, reproductive lifespan, juvenile survival, adult bodyweights and fecundity to derive estimates of the current and intrinsic rates of increase for sambar in Victoria, Australia.

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Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan 2022-27

The purpose of the Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan is to set clear goals and management objectives for wild fallow deer in Tasmania over the next five years. In doing so, the Plan provides a summary of the current management context.

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The Victoria Naturalist – The Pest Issue – December 2020

Jordan O Hampton and Naomi E Davis provide a brief review
of these impacts in Victoria and show that they are widespread across the state. While the existing evidence is limited, this is an active field of research, and comparative and experimental studies will help to address knowledge gaps and assist with the development of strategies for managing the impacts of deer in Victoria. (

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Victorian Deer Control Strategy

Author Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Summary The strategy has been developed under both Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 (Biodiversity 2037) and the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan 2016–2020. It responds to the recommendations of a Parliamentary Inquiry and is consistent with Victoria’s Invasive Plants and Animals Policy …

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