Non-Lethal Control

Disclaimer

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.

The video below is from a webinar run by Nillumbik Shire Council in 2021.  Ecological consultant Richard Francis talks about non-lethal options to minimise deer damage on your property, particularly for the properties in peri-urban environments where lethal control is not feasible. This is a great introduction and summary of non-lethal options available that you will find informative. Non-lethal control can importantly be integrated with lethal control programs where appropriate.

Deterrents

Feral deer don’t like being disrupted so deterrents may be tried and there are many ideas and opinions around deer deterrents so it’s worth talking to locals regarding what works.  Some of these ideas include using flashing lights, noises (including bird scarers), smells, or water (e.g. timed sprinklers) and the use of unpalatable plant species. These may work temporarily, but deterrents usually need to be changed periodically and one method alone is unlikely to work in the long term. Deer don’t like dogs so having a dogs in the yards and walking dogs around the property regularly may help deter feral deer.

Fencing

Fencing is a considerable investment for asset protection. It doesn’t control the population but may protect valuable assets from the impact of feral deer. Fencing is used in a variety of circumstances such as to protect crops and pastures, gardens, high value biodiversity values (such as threatened species and wetlands), revegetation and forestry plantings and individual trees. They can be designed to allow for native animal movements at ground level.

They will typically be 1.5 to 1.9 metres high and may be new fencing or modification of existing fencing. Electrified fences are becoming more common. Fencing is an expansive option when being considered on a large scale, but has become a last resort for many landowners to protect valuable agricultural, forestry, biodiversity and property assets.

There are many fencing material suppliers and contractors that can provide advice on and supply of deer exclusion fencing options so check locally and talk to your local landcare group or catchment management authority.

Some companies that specialise in deer fencing products include:

  • Gallagher has an electric fence design called a Westonfence that has been used to exclude feral deer and several products. More information can be found at:

https://am.gallagher.com/en-AU/Solutions/Electric-Fencing-Solutions

  • Wireman has a product called PickeX that can be used to quickly raise the height of an exisiting fence to exclude deer.

https://wireman.com.au/pages/pickex-fence-height-extensions

 

The Victorian Deer Control Community Network hosted a field day in 2023 to demonstrate different approaches to fencing out deer.

The field day visited two sites:

  • Yarra Valley Estates: Gallagher Electric fencing demonstration site recently developed and installed to protect an area where biodiversity restoration was taking place
  • ECOSS : Demonstration site funded by DEECA to present several types of more traditional tall mesh fencing.

Both electric and non-electric exclusion fencing to exclude feral deer can be effective and have their advantages and disadvantages. Landowners and managers need to choose the option that is the best fit for their situation.  Below is a summary of what was presented at each site.

Deer Fencing Yarra Valley field day notes

Tree Guards

Browsing by feral deer is having a big impact on plantings for revegetation and ecological restoration. Landcare groups and landowners are frustrated by the significant impact of feral deer browsing on their plantings.  

Tree guards provide protection of individual plants as they become established. They are used in their thousands by groups such as landcare and landowners as part of revegetation programs. However, where feral deer are present, the standard 60 cm or lower guards are not sufficient to protect the planting from deer browsing and additional investment is needed into higher and more robust tree guards where fencing is not practical.

Tree guard suppliers have responded and provide a range of options where large animal browsing occurs.

There are also a number of products on the market that provide direct trunk potection for larger established trees in gardens.

Some examples of products and suppliers of large sturdy tree guards suitable for revegetation projects include:

Sure Gro Tree Max Australia

Maxi Beast Tree Guard is 120 cm high and 30 cm wide. A corflute guard, it comes equipped with flaps for pinning and extra height and thickness for added plant protection from large animal browsing.

Arborgreen

Mallee mesh kangaroo guard 120 cm high x 46cm diameter. A wire mesh guard with extra height and wire gauge for added plant protection from large animal browsing

Whites Rural

Murray Welded mesh sheets 1.76 cm high x 240 cm long.