16 May 2024

Herd the latest? As weather cools down, deer sightings in suburbs start to go up

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Herd of deer.

Residents are reporting an increase in deer sightings in the suburbs. Photo: Wollongong City Council.

It’s that time of the year when deer, the region’s most beautiful pests, start venturing into suburbia, wreaking havoc in gardens and appearing without warning on our roads.

As the weather cools down and the mating (or rut) season starts, younger male deers are pushed out by dominant males.

Already there has been an increase in deer sightings along Wollongong’s escarpment fringes and into the suburbs.

According to Illawarra Local Land Services, during the rut deer can be more active, more vocal and less cautious than usual.

“It’s during this period, sparring and fighting amongst stags, chasing of hinds (female deer), and confrontations with people, cars and trains increase,” the service’s website says.

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“In the Illawarra, deer have been sighted in urbanised areas browsing on garden plants, on beach foreshores and in urban parkland. Collisions with cars on major roads are of significant concern, as too is the attraction by illegal hunters.”

The Illawarra Feral Deer Management Program was founded in 2011 with the aim of suppressing the deer population in the Illawarra.

The program includes public and private land managers and is overseen by South East Local Land Services.

Wollongong City Council is warning residents to be aware of the animals, especially after dark or in the early hours of the morning when deer are more likely to be on the move.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there were reports of deer along the M1 Motorway and in Montague Street in North Wollongong.

“It is important drivers are on their guard as they can do a great deal of damage to a vehicle,” he said.

“Deer are a significant problem for Wollongong and it’s not something council is going to solve on its own.

“We have been advocating for some time to ensure that all levels of government are working collaboratively to manage this feral species that can devastate our natural environment and have an impact on private property.

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“We are committed to continuing to work with the South East Local Land Services to support the deer culling program and other initiatives that seek to reduce their numbers.’’

Council has been part of the Illawarra Feral Deer Management Program for more than a decade. It is one of the largest control programs in Australia and since 2011 more than 7600 feral deer have been killed.

Members of the community can report deer sightings through FeralScan to help with management of the animals.

Council’s website also has information and advice for those who may get deer in their gardens or on their property.

Injured deer should be reported to NSW Police or the RSPCA.

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