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‘Worst vertebrate pests’: The staggering scale of Victoria’s deer problem

3AW Breakfast
Deer in Ivanhoe East

Deer are increasingly popping up in areas they shouldn’t be in.

A couple of weeks ago, a listener reported one on the loose in Ivanhoe East.

Chief executive of the Invasive Species Council, Andrew Cox, says it’s not surprising the animals are showing up where they shouldn’t, because their populations are reaching massive numbers.

“In Victoria, they’re probably numbering in their millions,” he told Stephen Quartermain and Emily Power, filling in for Ross and Russel.

“They’re one of Australia’s worst vertebrate pests.”

Mr Cox says deer populations have only surged in the last couple of decades.

“It’s only really in the last 20 or 30 years when people started releasing deer from failed deer farms … and there’s been a few sort of deliberately introduced from hunters, and now we just have them all over the landscape and they’re a serious problem,” he said.

Currently deer are listed as a protected species in Victoria, and Mr Cox says it’s time that changed.

“When people first see them … they like having a bambi sort of thing around them, it’s like a novelty,” he said.

“As they realise that they’re eating the grass that the cows or sheep would eat, the plants in their gardens, they actually change their minds.

“That’s why it’s really important that we change the status of deer.”

Press PLAY below to hear more about Australia’s deer plague

3AW Breakfast