Deer that are not kept in a deer-proof enclosure are classed as feral. To keep deer, you must become a registered biosecurity entity with Biosecurity Queensland. All feral deer are listed as an Invasive Biosecurity Matter, which requires landholders to manage this species in accordance with the Biosecurity Act 2014. This means that they must not be moved, fed, given away, sold or released into the environment without a permit.
The three species of wild deer currently found in Brisbane include the Rusa, Fallow and Red deer.
Wild deer activity is most prevalent in the western suburbs of Brisbane with a small population of red deer confined to a small area in the eastern suburbs. All three species of deer prefer open grassy habitat within forested areas and are good swimmers. All deer shed their antlers annually.
Report feral deer
To report feral deer you can fill out the Feral animal sightings online form or phone Council of 07 3403 8888.
The different types of deer that are common around Brisbane include:
Rusa are a tropical or subtropical species. They are semi-nocturnal, their preferred habitat being grassy plains bordered by dense brush or woodlands to which they can retire during daylight hours. They are:
- medium-sized, where stags may stand 110 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh around 120 kilograms
- have large ears, light tufts of hair above the eyebrows and large antlers that appear to be too large for their body size
- have coats that vary 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
- stags develop a mane during winter
- are generally found in small groups
- have no definite breeding seasons - hinds may produce three calves in two years, generally born March-April - this species has the potential for rapid population growth
- stags amass vegetation on their antlers, which they use to establish dominance over other males and to attract females.
View more information about Rusa deer.
Brisbane has a small isolated population of red deer, which are confined to a small area in the eastern suburbs. The rut (mating season) is from March to April where males can become aggressive. For most of the year the sexes remain apart. Males and females come together only during the rut. Stags compete and challenge other males and contest to collect as many females as they can into ‘harems’.
- were originally released by the Queensland Acclimatisation Society with the consent of the Queensland Government in the Brisbane Valley in 1873 and 1874
- are one of the larger deer species, where stags may stand 120 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh up to 220 kilograms
- has a glossy summer coat is reddish brown to brown, and the winter coat is longer and brown to grey
- mature red deer show a straw-coloured patch on the rump
- stags develop a mane during winter
- stags carry multi-tined antlers, with six or more points on each side.
View more information about Red deer.
Fallow deer were introduced into Queensland between 1870 and 1872 and are the most widespread and abundant of the deer species in Australia. For most of the year, males and females occur in separate single-sex groups. During the rut (breeding season) they come together in small herds. Males can be very aggressive during the rut.
Fallow deer are a smaller species of deer where:
- bucks may stand 90 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh around 90 kilograms
- they have common coat colour of tan or fawn with white spotting on the flanks
- they have tails are long, black on top and white beneath and they have a white rump patch outlined with a black horse-shoe
- they have a longer winter coat with more grey and indistinct spots
- they are the only species in Brisbane with palmate antlers (a shape similar to that of a hand with fingers extended).
View more information about Fallow deer.
Problems caused by deer
Feral deer cause problems such as:
- damaging native vegetation through browsing and trampling
- competing with native wildlife for resources and habitat
- reducing water quality to creeks, wetlands and river systems through grazing and trampling
- damaging residential gardens and fences
- are a traffic hazard on roads
- attracting illegal hunting
- transmitting diseases and parasites to humans, domestic animals and wildlife
- aggressive behaviour (from stags) during breeding season.
Controlling feral deer
It is illegal to feed feral deer. Collecting fallen fruit from trees and removing bird feeders from around your property assists in the management of deer.
Exclusion fencing may be successful in keeping feral deer out of small acreage properties or sections of properties.
Fencing is ineffective on public land because it restricts public access, affects movement of native wildlife and requires a high level of maintenance.
The use of chemical repellents and electronic repellents to deter feral deer is largely untested in Australia. However it is believed deer would adapt to deterrents over time, making them ineffective in the long-term. Electronic deterrents may be more successful if they are used correctly. Virtual fencing is currently being trialled in Brisbane to keep deer off roads from dusk till dawn. They are a small guide post mounted device, activated by car headlights. The device emits a low-level sound with flashing LED’s that repel the deer allowing the car to pass safely.
Lights may be successful in deterring deer, particularly those that flash a red light strobe. You need to move it around regularly so the deer do not become accustomed to it.
You can also try a rotary sprinkler on a timer system or a motion-activated sprinkler system to protect new plants and trees.
The stench of blood and bone based fertiliser may also deter deer for a short time.
Trapping may be an effective option to manage feral deer in some circumstances. Traps must be monitored closely and deer should be promptly euthanised once trapped.
Council undertakes an integrated approach to feral deer management which includes monitoring, education, trapping, shooting and assisting landholders to carry out their responsibilities in accordance with legislation including the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.
Avoiding a deer-related traffic accident
Deer pose a significant trafic hazard. Deer travel in groups in single file, therefore, if you sight one deer crossing the road, wait, and a second or third will soon be following.
The following information can help you avoid a deer collision:
- Slow down when you see deer signs. Driving more slowly will give you more time to avoid them.
- Like most wild animals, deer are easily frightened and will bolt at the last minute, so slow down if you sight deer near the roadside.
- Use extreme caution and slow speed when driving at dawn and dusk when deer are out foraging.
- Hit your horn when you see a deer near the road. This way the deer will know where your car is coming from and their instincts should move them away from your vehicle.
- Flash your headlight to signal to other drivers there is a hazard near the road and slow down if other drivers flash their lights at you.
- If you come across a deer on the road and you do not have sufficient time to avoid the animal, be mindful not to swerve into oncoming traffic, fencing, light posts and trees.
To learn more about the management of feral deer, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.