New guide takes up the fight against the rising threats of feral deer

Centre for Invasive Species

Landholders impacted by the increasing threat of feral deer will benefit from a new management tool thanks to the release of the Glovebox Guide to Managing Feral Deer, from the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

With six species of invasive deer established in Australia and numbers continuing to climb, the negative impact on Australian agricultural production, the environment and public and private infrastructure will only continue to grow without integrated control measures rolled out over the coming years.

The new Guide is one such measure, offering practical solutions for all land managers in helping manage and reduce the impact of feral deer.

Lead author, Dr David Forsyth from the NSW Department of Primary Industries Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, said, “The Glovebox Guide is based on the best practice science available for managing feral deer across Australia.

“Much of the information contained in the guide has been distilled from the extensive research undertaken over the past five years by the Centre’s feral deer research projects,” said Dr Forsyth.

It follows the recent release of the Annual Costs of Feral Deer in Australia report which highlighted the increasing economic impact of feral deer, estimated at a substantial $91 million annually. With feral deer populations found across large parts of Australia and their numbers continuing to swell, their impacts will only worsen if control measures are not in place.

The Glove Box Guide is an important tool in seeking to implement such control measures, with Dr Annelise Wiebkin, National Deer Management Coordinator with the South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions stating, “With no control measures in place, what is currently 30 deer may become 500 deer in just 10 years.

“Through providing practical and real-time advice on feral deer behaviour, the Guide assists land managers in ensuring the right control methods against the pest,” said Dr Wiebkin.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions gratefully acknowledges the funding support for this publication through the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry with support from NSW Department of Primary Industries and the QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Copies of the new glovebox guide can be ordered online here.



The economic impacts of feral deer

  • The estimated overall economic impact of feral deer in 2021 was about $91.3 million. This estimate was comprised of management costs (including fencing, trapping and shooting), agricultural production losses associated with feral deer feeding, damage and competition, and the costs of collisions with trains and motor vehicles.
  • Agricultural losses: The estimated cost of agricultural losses from feral deer in 2021 was estimated at about $69.1 million.
  • Public control expenditure: The estimated expenditure on public control of feral deer in 2021 was estimated at about $17.8 million.
  • Motor vehicle impacts: The estimated cost of motor vehicle impacts from feral deer in 2021 was estimated at about $3.3 million.
  • Train impacts: The estimated cost of train collisions with feral deer in 2021was estimated at $1.2 million.

The environmental impacts of feral deer

Feral deer can contribute to degradation of native vegetation, wallow formation, streambank erosion, facilitate the spread of weeds and compete with native herbivores.

The basics

How many species of feral deer are widespread in Australia?

Six species of feral deer have become widespread in Australia, with most being found in south-eastern Australia: samba deer (Cervus unicolor), red deer (Cervus elaphus), rusa deer (Cervus timorensis), fallow deer (Dama dama), chital deer (Axis axis) and hog deer (Axis porcinus).

What is the population size of feral deer in Australia?

The likely national population size of feral deer has been reported in the draft National Feral Deer Action Plan (Government of South Australia) at between 1 and 2 million.

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