Feral deer in the ACT

The ACT Government is conducting an aerial shooting program of fallow deer in the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo River Corridors and surrounding land from Monday 3 June until Friday 7 June 2019.

The operation will be undertaken by a team of experienced contractors overseen by the Parks and Conservation Service, and conducted in targeted areas that are rough, inaccessible and not suitable for ground shooting.

Aerial shooting as a control technique, when conducted by experienced operators, is considered a humane method by independent experts for controlling invasive animals, particularly large herbivores like deer.

For public safety areas subject to control will be closed for the duration of the cull, warning signs advising of closures will be placed at all entry points to the reserves.

The following sites will be closed from 6.00am on Monday 3 June until 1.00pm Friday 7 June 2019.

  • Bullen Range nature reserve View map
  • Lower Molonglo nature reserve View map
  • Woodstock nature reserve View map
  • Kambah Pool recreation area View map
  • Centenary trail between Kambah Pool and Tuggeranong creek
  • Murrumbidgee discovery trail between Kambah Pool and the Cotter
  • Shepherd’s Lookout track
  • Uriarra Loop track
  • Georgio’s Sandwash track
  • Tong’s Hole track

Questions and answers

  • Where did the deer come from?
    Populations of feral deer have become established in all Australian states and territories through a range of pathways including deliberate releases by acclimatisation societies, escapees from commercial deer farms and illegal releases by individuals.
  • Are there different types of deer in the ACT?
    There are six species of feral deer in Australia – Red, Sambar, Fallow, Rusa, Chital and Hog. Three deer species – Red, Sambar and Fallow – have been reported in the ACT so far.
  • How widespread are deer across the ACT?
    In recent years all species of feral deer have been increasing in their distribution and abundance across Australia, including here in the ACT. Although deer are cryptic animals and generally difficult to detect until they are in quite high numbers, formal monitoring programs conducted by the ACT Government have shown deer population numbers in the ACT have been increasing over the last five to ten years. Deer are now being recorded across many areas of the ACT including Namadgi National Park, some Canberra Nature Park reserves and surrounding rural areas.
  • Are there deer in the areas surrounding the ACT?
    All three species recorded in the ACT occur in the surrounding regions of NSW.
  • Why do we need to control deer?
    Unmanaged populations of deer have the potential to cause significant environmental and agricultural damage, as well as impacting social amenity. Populations in the areas surrounding the peri-urban areas have the potential to spread into the urban reserves of Canberra where management will be difficult, and the risks of traffic accidents on high speed roads is of particular concern.
    In recognition of these risks, all species present in the ACT are currently listed as pests under the Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005.
  • Where is the operation taking place?
    The operation will be taking place in the Bullen Range nature reserve and the Lower Molonglo nature reserve.
  • When will this happen/ how long will it take
    The program will be undertaken within the first two weeks of June and be run over 4 – 5 days.
  • What safety precautions are you taking?
    The operation will be undertaken by a highly experienced team. All areas that the operation will be undertaken within will be closed. There will be signage in place and no shoot zones will be established. All neighbours and the community will be notified prior to the operation commencing
  • How do you ensure animal welfare?
    A highly experienced contractor will be used to undertake the operation and the animal welfare outcomes will be audited by an independent vet.
  • Aerial shooting as a control technique, when conducted by an experienced operator, is considered humane.
  • Why is aerial shooting being used?
    Aerial shooing is considered a humane and cost effective and humane method of controlling invasive animals particularly large herbivores. Aerial shooting is routinely used by other land management agencies throughout Australia as part of pest control strategies.
    The areas to be targeted are rough and inaccessible and not suitable for ground shooting.
  • What sort of deer control have we done in the ACT previously?
    The ACT Government routinely undertakes ground shooting programs targeting deer in priority areas within other reserves. Successful programs at Googong foreshores saw 430 deer removed since 2014 and 60 deer removed at Murrumbidgee River since 2015.
  • Why don’t you use recreational hunters?
    No study has quantified the efficacy of recreational hunting as a management strategy, but a trial is underway in Victoria to assess whether this approach can reduce deer abundance and impacts on natural ecosystems. Much of the area targeted for control is unsuitable for ground-based shooting and there are no provisions for hunting on public land within the ACT.
  • Who is undertaking the work
    The operation will be undertaken by a team of experienced contractors overseen by the Parks and Conservation Service.
  • What sort of notifications are you doing of residents and reserve users?
    All neighbours will be notified directly via letterbox drop and reserve users will be notified through media releases, social media and signage.