A feral deer has been spotted in the north of the Byron Shire this week, sparking concern for Byron Shire Council agricultural staff.
Council says the young male Rusa deer was photographed by a property owner.
Council’s Biodiversity and Agriculture Officer, Peter Boyd described the sighting as very concerning.
“Feral deer are a real problem in many parts of Australia and we have been fortunate that they have not become established in the Northern Rivers, and in particular, we are not aware that any have been sighted at all in the Byron Shire until now,” Mr Boyd said.
“Unfortunately deer are being seen more regularly in neighbouring shires and we now really need to work hard to make sure they do not get established because they are one of Australia’s worst pest animals,” he said.
“Deer might not look like an animal that is feral but they breed quickly and as their populations grow they cause a lot of damage to the environment.
“They also have a significant human impact because they can reduce the ability of farmers to earn a living, spread disease to livestock and other animals and are a hazard to drivers, straying onto roads and causing accidents,” Mr Boyd said.
Byron Shire Council is working with Tweed, Kyogle and Lismore Councils on a Feral Deer Alert campaign.
The campaign aims to alert people in the Byron Shire and the Northern Rivers region to the feral deer problem and provides information on identification, management and reporting.
“We are really at a critical point in that now is the time we need to work together to keep an eye out for feral deer, and if seen, report them,” Mr Boyd said.
People should report sightings of feral deer at the FeralScan website or call Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.
“Landowners should also know that under the NSW Biosecurity Act, they are responsible for the control of feral animals such as foxes, wild dogs and now deer on their land,” Mr Boyd said.
Feral deer facts (NSW Department of Primary Industry)
- In 2020 the distribution of feral deer in NSW was 180,443km2 or 22% of NSW
- Fallow deer (the most widespread deer species) increased its distribution in NSW by 60% from 2016 to 2020.
For more information on deer, what to do and who to tell, go to the Feral Deer Alert website.