Introduced into Australia by acclimatisation societies in the nineteenth century for game hunting, there are now four species of wild deer in Victoria, Sambar Deer, Fallow Deer, Hog Deer, and Red Deer.
Sambar Deer are the most common and widespread species of deer in Victoria; however, around Anglesea the most common species is Fallow Deer. They can be seen off Forest Road and even as close to town as Camp Road.
Otway Ark, a native mammal recovery program, uses camera traps to monitor and collect baseline data of native mammal and exotic predator activities which are entered into the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas. The images (and many more) of Fallow Deer were captured using these camera traps in Anglesea.
Deer reduce and destroy native vegetation and compete with native wildlife for food sources. As deer densities increase in an area, the abundance and diversity of plant species is reduced. Deer contribute to shrub and ground layer disturbance through wallowing and trail creation, plant and habitat destruction through grazing and antler rubbing, localised soil compaction and erosion, degradation of waterways, and the spread of weeds into new areas. These impacts become even more prevalent during the breeding season. Current Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) data and analysis from the Strategic Management Prospects tool also suggests that over a thousand species of flora and fauna would benefit from deer control efforts across the state.
The Victorian Deer Control Strategy developed by the Victorian government in response to the rapid increase in wild deer numbers aims to prevent new deer species from becoming established in Victoria, remove isolated deer populations, limit the spread of deer to new areas, and protect high priority environmental, agricultural, and Aboriginal cultural heritage values, and public safety.
Locally, the Wild Otways Initiative is a $6 million investment from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund to improve conservation outcomes in the Otway region. The initiative comprises of six projects, with funds being distributed to support the following areas:
A Pig and Deer Eradication Program is one of the five sub-projects, to protect native species in critical habitat areas of the Otways from Jan Juc/Bells Beach to Peterborough, the Great Otway National Park, and hinterlands, and will be delivered through to June 2023.
If you see deer around the Anglesea area, you can contribute to monitoring efforts by recording your sightings through VBAGo or iNaturalist.
Irene Brouwer, Natural Environment Program Officer, Barwon South West Region DELWP