A Sambar hind. Photo: Doug Read
First it was kangaroos, now the ACT Government is working out whether it needs a control program for deer, as they encroach on the suburbs of Canberra.
The government is doing the first territory study of deer populations due to a growing number of sightings of the introduced species.
The Territory and Municipal Services directorate said sightings were typically in rural areas around the Namadgi and Tidbinbilla nature reserves but there had been anecdotal reports of deer closer to urban areas near Mount Ainslie.
The cull had been due to start last month until Animal Liberation ACT and the Victorian-based Australian Society for Kangaroos won a temporary stay through the tribunal.
The Minister who oversees the cull, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, was attacked by a kangaroo while on a morning run in Ainslie in May.
Parks and Conservation Services director Daniel Iglesias said the ACT had not previously collected data on deer populations and was conducting a six-month study to decide if a control program was needed.
Mr Iglesias said the directorate believed three species – sambar deer, fallow deer and red deer – were present in the territory.
“Before we think about what we need to do about them we need to understand how many we've got and where they are,” he said.
“What we've been finding recently is there's been more and more reports coming through so it might be the distribution is expanding but we don't know for sure.
“We have had anecdotal reports of people seeing them closer into urban areas.
“The latest report we had was someone had seen one near Mt Ainslie.”
Mr Iglesias said the study would map sightings of deer in the ACT over time to determine whether there had been population growth and a shift in where the animals were located.
He said the study would be completed by the end of the year and the directorate was encouraging Canberrans to report any sightings.
“Once we do that we can target a control program – there's no point talking control until we know where they are and how many there are,” he said.
Mr Iglesias said deer were “absolutely” a pest that had the “capacity to destroy the natural environment by what's called wallowing – which is similar to what pigs do.”