Lethal Control

Table of Contents


This section is designed to discuss potential solutions to living with deer. The VDCCN does not endorse or favour any particular supplier, contractor or product. This is simply a list of tools and options available. It is not comprehensive and will be built on further over time.


This section is designed to discuss potential solutions to living with deer. The VDCCN does not endorse or favour any particular supplier, contractor or product. This is simply a list of tools and options available. It is not comprehensive and will be built on further over time.

Ground Shooting

Ground Shooting can be a humane and efficient method of culling small to moderate numbers of feral deer when it is carried out by experienced, skilled shooters using the right methods and equipment.

Feral deer are protected as game under Victoria’s Wildlife Act (1975) but this doesn’t apply to private land (other than Hog Deer). Landowners and their authorised agents can destroy problem deer without the need for an Authority to Control Wildlife Permit and may use a spotlight. There are conditions however and these are outlined in the factsheet found here:

It is a control option in peri-urban and urban areas, however, there are special requirements for the use of firearms in peri-urban areas. A Public Place Permit from Victoria Police will be needed for permission to use a firearm if your property is in a populous or built up area, so check with police. They are usually only issued to professional or commercial deer controllers.

Ground shooting is nevertheless time consuming, labour intensive and requires skilled operators.  It is most effective if used as part of an integrated  program designed to achieve sustained effective control.

This video from PestSmart provides some insights into ground shooting.


PestSmart is a pest control advice service that is managed through the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

Pest smart provides advice on ground shooting of feral deer and has developed a standard operating procedure.  This standard operating procedure (SOP) is a guide only; it does not replace or override the legislation that applies in the relevant state or territory jurisdiction. The SOP should only be used subject to the applicable legal requirements (including OH&S) operating in the relevant jurisdiction. Further information can be found here: 

Professional pest controllers

Professional shooters can provide feral deer control for landowners willing to pay for an expert service. They may make specialised use of spotlights, thermal scopes, drones and detection dogs for efficient culling.  They may also be authorised to shoot in populous areas and use suppressors to reduce the noise of ground shooting, which enables more feral deer to be shot in an area at one time, and they also reduce disturbance for residents.

The Vertebrate Pest Management Association Australia (VPMAA) is an independent, not–for-profit association.  Members include professional deer shooters, licensed by their state or territory to carry out land-based vertebrate pest management throughout Australia. This is a useful starting point for information about professional deer shooters but not all professional deer shooters are necessarily members of the VPMAA.

Their details can be found here:

Recreational shooting

Recreational shooting where the motivation is purely to source an animal for meat or trophy will generally not remove sufficient feral deer to reduce impacts or meet control program goals in many parts of Australia. A rural landowner may choose to work with responsible recreational shooters but it is important to make the landowner’s objective regarding the feral deer control clear to hunters and ensure all operations are humane, safe and responsible and that risk and insurance factors are considered. Recreational shooting is not allowed in populous areas

Farmer Assistance Program

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australian (SSAA) runs a Farmer Assist Program. The SSAA Farmer Assist program has been developed to enable farmers with wildlife management issues to seek pest animal control assistance from licensed and insured SSAA members. The program includes feral deer control.

For more information:

Commercial harvesters

Wild Deer may be commercially harvested in Victoria under regulation and be processed in a PrimeSafe licensed meat processing facility for human or pet consumption. Commercial harvesting is most suitable where there are significant numbers of deer on a property to make the harvest economically viable. It is not a single solution and is most effective as a knock down method followed by an integrated program designed to achieve sustained effective control in the longer term. More information:

Landowners may contact one of the commercial harvesters licenced to operate in Victoria to discuss their feral deer issues and if commercial harvesting may be an option.

Some deer harvesters operating in Victoria include:

We will add others to this list as the information becomes available.

Aerial shooting

Aerial shooting from helicopter is an effective, and often the primary way to rapidly reduce large numbers of feral deer over thousands of hectares, particularly in inaccessible areas and for eradication of small, sparse or cryptic populations. This method is highly specialised and expensive and principally used in Victoria by public land managers. It has been particularly utilised to reduce the impact of feral deer after the 2020 bushfires. Aerial shooting is generally not a feasible option for private landowners but may support cross tenure control programs where private land owners control deer on private land in conjunction with landscape scale aerial shooting on public land.