Feral deer populations cause concern across the region

The Hunter Local Land Services team is encouraging landholders to report sightings of feral deer in their areas. Populations of feral deer are known across the region but have recently been causing increasing issues in the Port Stephens area. Of particular concern are the public safety risks posed by feral deer to motorists and motorcyclists.

Incidence of feral deer, mainly individual stags, are being spotted so it is important to report sightings to improve our knowledge of feral deer populations and provide information if management programs are required.

There have been several recent incidents of vehicle crashes involved feral deer, particularly in the lower Hunter. The feral deer are large and hard to see, making them a substantial risk to motorists and motorcycles.

Grazing and trampling caused by feral deer threatens native species that are less able to compete for food and habitat and damages the composition and structure of habitats of threatened fauna.

Scent marking and rubbing of antlers leads to many trees becoming ring-barked and dying, whilst browsing on shrubs and grasses, forbs and other general foliage further degrades these communities.

Weed seeds are introduced in scats and increased light penetration from disturbed canopies sets the conditions for rapid weed invasion. Brett Miners, Hunter Local Land Services General Manager said, “Feral deer have a serious impact on the natural environment, but they also have devastating impacts for agricultural producers and even gardens and community spaces in our urban areas.

“Deer would easily make the Olympics high jump team, some species able to jump fences up to 2.5m high and this enables them to invade farms, graze on pastures and crops, consume stock water and feed.

“Deer congregate around water sources and damage riparian zones around dams, waterholes, creeks and rivers.

“The impact on agricultural enterprises varies but can easily reach the tens of thousands of dollars each year for farmers due to increased grazing pressure, loss of crops and damage to infrastructure.”

Feral deer are increasingly present in urban areas, grazing on lawns and backyard vegetable gardens, destroying landscaping, destroying community spaces such as parks and causing motor vehicle accidents.

Their agility makes them a particular hazard to motorists, as they often appear with very little warning.

Brett continued, “Feral deer are a priority pest species in the Hunter region and landholders have an obligation to control them to limit their ability to impact our environment, production land but most importantly not end up on a road and putting human life at risk.

“We encourage landholders and residents to report sightings of feral deer, as this provides valuable information on where they are and helps us prioritise coordinated landholder programs.” Brett said.

To report feral deer:

  • Download and install the FeralScan app on your smart phone - https://www.feralscan.org.au
  • Record a sighting on the FeralScan website
  • Call your nearest Local Land Services office on 1300 795 299

If you would like to know more about feral deer or if you would like help in managing feral deer in your area, we encourage all interested landholders to contact the Hunter Local Land Services Biosecurity Team in their local office or on 1300 795 299 to find out how to be involved.

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