Australia’s feral deer problem is increasing.

The National Feral Deer Action Plan aims to limit the spread of feral deer into new areas and reduce their negative impacts on agriculture, communities, and the environment. The plan focuses on raising awareness of feral deer’s effects and control options to encourage early action on both small isolated populations and large populations in priority areas. It also emphasises the need to develop new tools, conduct trials, and build capacity to detect, cull, and prevent further spread of feral deer. The plan is intended for various stakeholders, including land management agencies, groups, organizations, governments, and land managers who are currently impacted by feral deer or may be affected in the future.


The Plan at a Glance

Achieving the goals

The plan takes a coordinated, best-practice approach to managing feral deer, by focusing actions towards the 3 goals that target both large and small populations of feral deer across Australia. 

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1. Neighbours/communities working collaboratively together

Because feral deer move readily across many property boundaries, they need to be managed at landscape scales. Landscape scale control of feral deer requires a coordinated, best practise approach, which seeks participation from all land managers, irrespective of land use.

The Plan promotes local and regional coordinators to support groups to pool efforts, share knowledge and responsibility for feral deer control.

2. Increase awareness

The Plan builds awareness of feral deer distribution, spread and impacts, and the need to act early, through workshops, forums, networks and media. It also seeks to fill data gaps in feral deer distribution and impacts.

3. Promote best practice to reduce impacts in large feral deer populations

The Plan promotes up to date best practice guides, tools and approaches and highlight demonstration sites that employ strategic use of tools across landscape scales. The Plan also promotes the need to remove at least 35 to 50 per cent of a local feral deer population (particularly females) each year to counter natural population growth, and reduce impacts.

4. Prevent the spread

Preventing the spread of existing feral deer distributions (particularly into peri-urban areas) and eradicating isolated incursions is the most feasible approach to managing the national feral deer problem, at least until more cost-effective tools are available. The Plan promotes proactive surveillance and early response plans and strategic programs to tackle feral deer as soon as they pop up in new areas. It also promotes investment to eradicate small isolated incursions, to prevent future explosions in deer populations.

5. Protect areas of national significance from impacts of feral deer

The Plan identifies nationally or internationally important sites (e.g. RAMSAR, World Heritage, indigenous protected areas) that are threatened by or impacted by feral deer and promote the need for site management plans that proactively protect the environmental and cultural values from future impacts of deer.

6. R&D to improve control tools

Land managers and programs are often not able to shoot or trap feral deer at sufficient intensities to meet their management goals. Low-effort control tools such as baits, or automated detection technology would enable these programs to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Thermal technology is also advancing quickly, and is likely to play an increasingly important role in surveillance and control of feral deer in Australia. Research on new tools, as well as strategies to improve existing tools will increase our chances of managing feral deer impacts.

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