Feral Deer Control Kit for the Upper Ovens Valley

A brief history of deer in Victoria

Deer are not native to Australia and were introduced to Victoria in the mid-1880s as game animals and were farmed until the 1980s when the deer industry collapsed due to declining market value of farmed deer (DELWP 2020, Davis et al. 2016).

Since the 1980s, due to human assisted (farm escapes and illegal deer releases) and natural dispersal from established populations, deer have been rapidly expanding their range and numbers in the wild and have now invaded a wide variety of vegetation types across the state (Davis et al. 2016, DELWP 2020, GMA 2023).

The specific numbers of deer and the actual annual change in numbers in Victoria is unknown. However, estimates of deer taken by licensed game harvesters in south eastern mainland Australia are increasing each year.

There are rising numbers of anecdotal reports and recorded sightings of deer that indicate that deer are continuing to expand their range and numbers significantly (Davis et al. 2016, DELWP 2020). The Invasive Species Council website includes a video showing the rate of expansion of feral deer sightings of different species over time across a map of Victoria. These records indicate that deer are continuing to expand in range and numbers throughout north eastern Victoria including the Upper Ovens Valley region and now occur in every habitat from the lowlands and rivers to the alpine areas and all areas in between.

Disturbances such as increasing frequency and extent of wildfire do not appear to be impacting the increase in deer numbers.

Deer are also presently protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and managed as game animals rather than feral pests which is contributing to ongoing population growth and range expansion.