Feral Deer Control Kit for Victoria

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Deer control must follow current laws and regulations which can change from time to time. The information here was current at the time this document was prepared. It is licensed deer controllers, recreational hunters and landowners, land managers and their employee’s responsibility to stay up to date with current control regulations. Information on regulations around deer control is available at the Game Management Authority website.

Are deer protected?

All deer are declared protected wildlife under the Wildlife Act 1975 (Wildlife Act) (DELWP 2020). Sambar, Fallow, Red Deer and Hog Deer are also declared game animals for the purpose of hunting under the Act (DELWP 2015, DELWP 2020, GMA 2023). In October 2022 the Control of Deer on Public Land order in council was declared under the Wildlife Act to allow public land managers, their employees, agents, police officers or their agents, and veterinarians to hunt, take, destroy, dispose of, possess, process and sell deer without a permit and in operation for three years in accordance with conditions outlined in the order available at: Order in Council Control of Deer on Public Land (VGG 2022). This order excludes Hog Deer unless in a park managed under the National Parks Act.

Hog deer are afforded additional protection, as to hunters, they are a highly valued game species in Victoria, with licensed hunters permitted to harvest one male (stag) and one female (hind) during an annual hunting season. The annual season occurs during the month of April, which is timed to minimise impact on breeding productivity.

Can I shoot deer on my property without a permit?

In March 2013 due to concern from landowners about deer impacts on private property, all deer except Hog Deer were declared ‘unprotected wildlife’ under the Wildlife Act (The Order). This Order in Council was revoked and a new Order in Council ‘unprotected wildlife on private property declared in 2018. This allows property owners, property managers, permanent employees or other agents of the landowner to shoot all deer except Hog Deer that are causing damage to buildings, crops, other vegetation or animals on their property. The Order includes exemptions from the requirement for Game Licences or an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) (DELWP 2020, GMA 2023), a copy of The Order can be accessed at: Unprotection order-Wildlife-on-private-property.pdf The Order is in place for 10 years unless revoked. More information on the Order can be found  here . unprotection-of-deer-on-private-property-faq

What firearms and ammunition must I use to shoot different species of deer on my property?

Deer shot under The Order must be shot with firearms that meet specifications under The Order which include firearms, calibres and projectile weights as outlined in the table below:

Fallow and Chital Deer
Sambar, Rusa and Red Deer
Non-game Deer
Centre-fire rifle
a minimum calibre of .243” (6.17 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 80 grains (5.18 grams).
a minimum calibre of .270” (6.85 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 130 grains (8.45 grams).
a minimum calibre of .270” (6.85 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 130 grains (8.45 grams).
Muzzle-loading rifle
a minimum calibre of .38” (9.65 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 200 grains (12.96 grams).
a minimum calibre of .45” (11.45 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 230 grains (14.91 grams).
a minimum calibre of .45” (11.45 mm) with a minimum projectile weight of 230 grains (14.91 grams).
Smooth-bore firearm
a minimum bore of 20 and a maximum bore of 12, using a single solid projectile with a minimum weight of 245 grains (15.88 grams) and the firearm must be fitted with either: a front and rear iron sight (other than a beaded sight or sights); or a telescopic sight; or a reflex sight
* Source: Victorian Government Gazette, 408, G9,1 March 2018

Do I need a Public Place Permit to shoot on my property?

Property owners may need a Public Place Permit to shoot on their property if it considered a ‘public place/populous place’ due to the proximity of houses, people, or roads. This is based on factors including (Source: NSC 2023):

  • Size and location of the property;
  • Proximity to and visibility from houses;
  • Location of walking tracks and roads;
  • Topography;
  • Vegetation; and
  • Whether there are safe shooting zones.

Landowners will need to contact their local Divisional Firearms Officer to determine if they will need a Public Place Permit and if they are eligible. You can find your local firearms officer and contact details at: divisional-firearms-officers.

Details of landowners eligibility requirements, what information the landowner needs to provide, and application forms are available on the Victoria Police Website at: public-place-permits.

For further information on shooting in public places and peri-urban settings landowners can refer to the Nillumbik Shire Council information fact sheet ‘Tips for Undertaking Deer Control in Rural and Peri-Urban-Areas’ which provides detailed information about shooting on smaller properties and properties close to people (NSC 2023). The fact sheet provides information on control methods, carcass disposal, public liability insurance for third party shooters, shoot program work details and arranging deer control programs.

Other resources include the ‘Guide-to-Deer-Control-in-Peri-Urban-Areas.pdf’ and the ‘Peri-Urban-Deer-Control-Plan’ 2021-2026’ (DELWP 2021) which provides information on options for deer control in peri-urban areas and links to other useful resources.

Can I use spotlights, thermal imaging, night vision or infrared devices to hunt on my property?

A spotlight is defined as any source of artificial light, infrared device, night vision or heat detecting device (e.g. thermal scopes) under the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 but does not include domestic lighting e.g. hand held torches, lanterns, work lights, emergency lights, head torches, or vehicle lights that comply with the Road Safety (Vehicles) Regulations 2009 fitted to a vehicle in a legal manner (GMA 2023).

Between 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise you are not permitted to possess a firearm and a spotlight in recognized deer habitat which includes all areas of crown land in the following municipalities (GMA 2023):

  • Alpine Shire Council
  • Ararat Rural City
  • Baw Baw Shire Council
  • Benalla Rural City Council
  • Cardinia Shire Council
  • Colac-Otway Shire Council
  • Corangamite Shire Council
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Glenelg Shire Council
  • Horsham Rural City Council
  • Mansfield Shire Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Murrindindi Shire Council
  • Northern Grampians Shire Council
  • Pyrenees Shire Council
  • South Gippsland Shire Council
  • South Grampians Shire Council
  • Strathbogie Shire Council
  • Towong Shire Council
  • Wangaratta Shire Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • Whittlesea City Shire Council
  • Yarra Ranges Shire Council

You can carry a firearm and spotlight in a vehicle if the firearm and ammunition is secured (see Game Management Authority Spotlighting laws for detailed requirements) or on foot if the firearm is unloaded, ammunition stored in an appropriate container and the spotlight is not fitted to the firearm (GMA 2023).

Under the March 2018 ‘unprotected wildlife’ order made under the Wildlife Act (The Order), landowners or their agents are exempt from spotlight regulations for the purpose of controlling deer (except hog deer) that are causing damage to buildings, crops, other vegetation or animals on their property (GMA 2023).

Anyone shooting in accordance with an ACTW or other authorisation under the Wildlife Act that states they can destroy wildlife with the assistance of a spotlight are exempt (GMA 2023).

Who can undertake deer control on my property and what are their requirements?

Property owners can undertake deer control themselves or engage recreational shooters, professional shooters or commercial deer harvesters with the required firearms licenses to undertake deer control on their land (DELWP 2020). Some deer harvesters pay the landowner a per kg rate for saleable meat.

Land managers, permanent employees or other agents must have written signed and dated permission from the landowner which they must carry with them when undertaking deer control. A ‘written permission form’ is available on the Game Management Authority website at: GMA-written permission form. If a landowner or their agent is undertaking deer control, they must have the relevant licenses and permits.

Deer controlled under the Order that is taken off the landowners property must have documentation or a tag that includes name and address of the landowner, the property on which the deer was destroyed and the date (GMA 2023).

Are there bag limits and seasons for deer hunting?

There is no bag limit or closed season for deer except for Hog Deer which have prescribed methods, season and time of day for hunting (DELWP 2020, GMA 2023). Details are provided on the Game Management Authority website at: Hog-Deer-hunting.

Can I hunt deer with hounds?

Only certain dog breeds (deer hunting dogs) can be used to hunt deer (excluding Hog Deer) in Victoria. There is a closed season for Sambar Deer hunting with hounds (DELWP 2020, GMA 2023). Specific regulations around hunting with hounds are detailed in the document ‘A guide to the use of hounds for hunting Sambar Deer in Victoria’ available on the Game Management Authority website. The Game Management Authority website also provides information on deer hunting dog breeds and their use and has two fact sheets titled: Hunting-game-birds-and-deer-with-dogs-in-Victoria.pdf and Gundogs-and-deer-hunting-dogs.pdf.

Are there codes of practice and standard operating procedures for deer control?

Anyone shooting deer must adhere to the National Animal Welfare codes of Practice and Standard Operating Procedures available on the PestSmart website, see links provided below:

National Codes of Practice:

National Standard Operating Procedures:

Do I need a permit to control deer by non lethal methods?

Any activity not provided for under this Order such as shooting Hog Deer or herding/moving wild deer out of an enclosed area requires an ATCW issued by the Conservation Regulator, The Department of Energy, and Climate Action (DEECA) (DELWP 2020, VicGov 2023). The ATCW can be obtained from the Conservation Regulator, DEECA (VicGov 2023) at: authority-control-wildlife-ATCW-application-form-guide. Poisons are not permitted to be used for deer control.

Do I need to check with local council before undertaking deer control?

It is the landowner’s responsibility to check with local council regarding councils’ bylaws for the use of the proposed control methods and to check if they require approval or conditions of use.