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Deer populations are high, and a serious threat to Australian wildlife

Australia is battling an increasingly serious deer infestation. Experts estimate the population currently sits at 2 million.

Last month while Melbourne was in lockdown, a deer was spotted prancing around the streets of Fitzroy. Deer are super cute; think, Bambi, or Rudolf.

But they quickly become a problem as deer disrupt and damage vulnerable Australian ecosystems.

Image: Australian Deer Association

In areas where deer populations are high, the diversity and abundance of species have declined.

The reason is that deer are likely to graze upon or trample delicate saplings, a vital food source for native Australian animals.

But how did they get here? Well, deer were brought into Australia as game animals in the 19th century, and propagated into an enormous population.

Unfortuently, deer are highly prone to carrying diseases, such as the highly contagious animal disease, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). Experts in invasive species suggest that an outbreak in FMD could cost the government up to $16 billion.

Moreover, deer may carry diseases transmissible to humans, such as Leptospirosis and Cryptosporidium. Please, we cannot deal with a deer-related pandemic right now.

Deer populations have been growing consistently for over a decade, and experts warn that there is only a small window of opportunity to control the deer populations, before it gets way out of hand.

For example, on Sunday, June 27, a deer startled two men who were sunbathing naked on a beach in the Royal National Park.

They called police for help around 6 pm, stating they had run from the deer into the park and gotten lost.

Their rescue involved an expensive police aircraft as well as ambulance officers.

The two sunbathers were fined for breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules.

One of the urban areas most affected by deer is Wollongong, NSW.

Car collisions and property damage are common occurrences in the suburbs. Last year in May, the Wollongong council went as far as to officially declare “deer season”.

Deer in Wollongong have been found to travel through kilometres of residential areas searching for a mate, peering into windows and even making it down to the beaches.

But now, the Morrison government is funding resources to better deal with the invasive species. Though, we all know the Morrison governemnt is excellent when it comes to wildlife preservation.

ScoMo’s government have already invested $20 million in the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS), $550,000 of which will go directly to National Deer Management.

They have even appointed a national deer management coordinator, Annelise Wiebkin, who estimates that the deer population currently sits at a concerning high of 2 million.

The devastating reality, however, is that dealing with the deer will likely involve “aerial culls“.

The CISS plans to encourage farmers with large properties to partake as a community in controlling feral deer.