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Wild deer

Three species of wild deer are found throughout the City of Gold Coast area:

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, feral deer are declared pest animals. Feral deer are classified as any deer not enclosed in a deer-proof fence.

Category 3 declared deer

Landowners must take reasonable steps to keep land free of Category 3 pests.

It is an offence to introduce, keep, feed, supply or release Category 3 pest animals without a permit.

Category 3 declared deer:

It is an offence to introduce, feed, supply or release Category 3 pest animals without a permit.

Landholders are not required to control Category 3 pests unless their land is adjacent to an environmentally significant area.

Problems caused by deer:

Environmental damage

  • damage to native vegetation through browsing and trampling
  • competition with native wildlife for resources and habitat degradation
  • reduction in water quality in creeks, wetlands and river systems as deer grazing and trampling causes erosion and increases sedimentation.

Social harm

  • grazing deer may damage residential gardens and fences
  • may cause serious traffic hazards and motor vehicle accidents
  • attract illegal hunting
  • may carry diseases and parasites which can be transmitted to humans, domestic animals and wildlife
  • stags may be aggressive during breeding season (between March and August for Fallow and Red deer). Rusa deer have no definite breeding season, although most breeding occurs between June and October.

Economic damage

  • wild deer may impact on agriculture, destroying crops and reducing available pasture for domestic stock
  • their management can be expensive and depends on the ability to relocate the animals.

Control

Trap and relocate

This is an expensive and time consuming method of control.

Relocation of trapped deer depends on commercial demand for live animals in deer farms.

Trapping may provide an effective long-term solution to wild deer management, only if suitable trapping locations are identified.

Fencing

Exclusion fencing has been successful in keeping wild deer populations out of small acreage properties in the western suburbs of Brisbane.

This process is not commonly used on public land because it restricts public access, hinders the movement of native wildlife, is expensive and requires a high level of maintenance.

Repellents

Various chemical repellents may provide short-term protection of individual plants. However, they are not suitable for use over large areas. Deer adapt to these repellents which makes them ineffective in the long-term.

The University of Queensland is researching the effectiveness of a chemical repellent comprising compounds extracted from tiger faeces. Spread in granular form, the odour is less offensive than cat faeces while the target pest animals still recognise the smell of the predator, and avoid the area.

Frightening devices

Gas-fuelled explosive devices (gas cannons) and other noise-emitting tools may provide short-term solutions. These disperse the animals from unwanted areas, although deer adapt to frightening devices, so they are ineffective in the long term.

Guard dogs and domestic dogs may also deter wild deer from browsing in gardens.

What they look like

Rusa deer

  • have large ears, light tufts of hair above the eyebrows and large antlers which appear to be too large for their body size
  • are often found in groups
  • are medium-sized - stags may stand 110 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh around 120 kilograms
  • their coat varies from greyish to yellowish or reddish brown, with darker brown on the hindquarters and thighs
  • body hair is coarse and more sparse than other deer
  • new calves have a rich red coat
  • stags develop a mane during winter.

Red deer

  • one of the larger deer species - stags may stand 120 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh up to 220 kilograms
  • their summer coat is glossy reddish brown to brown, and the winter coat is longer and brown to grey
  • mature red deer show a straw collared patch on the rump
  • stags develop a mane during winter
  • stags' antlers have six or more points on each side.

Fallow deer

  • are a smaller species of deer - bucks may stand 90 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh around 90 kilograms
  • the common coat colour is tan or fawn with white spotting on the flanks
  • the tail is long, black on top and white beneath. It is surrounded by a white rump patch outlined with a characteristic black horseshoe
  • the coat is longer in winter and more grey with indistinct spots.

What is the City doing?

The City is collecting data about wild deer in the Gold Coast area and mapping populations for future management programs.

Control methods may vary depending on the size of wild deer populations and environmental conditions in each situation - from removal to exclusion.

Help us manage the number of wild deer in our city by reporting any sightings using our online Report a problem - Animals form.

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