The Black Summer bushfires may have led to the country's large feral deer population encroaching on areas beyond its normal habitat, including parts of the ACT, according to leading conservationists.
Invasive Species Council chief executive Andrew Cox said more of the feral deer were moving in on parts of Canberra and south-eastern NSW, exacerbated further by bushfire damage.
"After bushfires, they move around more, and while they can move quickly to escape fires, they also move into areas that were burnt that have growing vegetation," Mr Cox said.
"They rapidly expand after bushfires, especially after Black Summer."
While many people recently have expressed surprise at Australia having a feral deer population, Mr Cox said the issue was getting worse in some of the country's major cities, including Canberra.
It comes after a feral deer startled two naked sunbakers in Sydney's Royal National Park, which led to the pair becoming lost in nearby bush and having to be rescued by emergency crews.
Mr Cox said while the ACT government was undertaking an annual cull of feral deer in nearby national parks, more action was needed to be taken.
"Deer are moving in on the national capital, and they are on all sides of the ACT and it's clear numbers are growing."
"There are no authorised baits or pesticides that can be used to control deer, and ground and aerial shooting seem to be the only tool, unless you fence off areas with a two-metre barrier."
Parts of the Namadgi National Park and surrounding areas have been closed off due to aerial culling of feral deer along with pigs, to help areas of bushland recover following the devastating Orroral Valley fire.
A 2019 cull of the area saw the deaths of 156 deer in the national park.
Mr Cox said while there hadn't been noted instances of feral deer coming into Canberra backyards, it was only a matter of time before it did, after similar incidents in other cities.
"They graze on all types of vegetation and they're like a goat because they both have hard hooves and cause erosion problems as a result," he said.
An ACT Environment Directorate spokesman said it was not clear exactly how many feral deer were inside the ACT due to it being difficult to estimate.
"If populations of deer are allowed to increase, the likelihood of deer entering the residential suburbs is possible, but unlikely to be a frequent occurrence," the spokesman said. "Deer, like most animals in the environment, will relocate from freshly burned areas to access available food.
"As the environment recovers from fire these animals will return to these areas as their preferred food source returns."
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