Collaborative Community Deer Action across Nillumbik


What is the project?

Nillumbik Shire Council has been successful in receiving two one-year grants from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Communities Environment Program to build the capacity of the local community to engage in targeted local area deer control options via delivery of educational programs related to deer management.

You can get involved in:

  • Field Days
  • Workshops
  • Practical demonstrations or hands-on activities
  • Citizen Science activities
  • Site inspections

By participating you will be better informed in how to reduce the impact of deer on your property, on your neighbourhood and on the environment.

The aim is that groups of upskilled landholders will be able to undertake more effective ongoing deer control across the landscape; and be able to encourage and support additional landholders in getting involved in deer control over time.



Where will the project be undertaken?

The project targets landholders experiencing deer problems in Wattle Glen, Diamond Creek, Plenty, Research, North Warrandyte, Eltham and Kangaroo Ground (i.e. Menzies and Jaga Jaga federal electorate suburbs) – as these are the suburbs covered by our grant funding.  

However, Council recognises that deer observe no boundaries, so whilst the project training tends to be hosted in Menzies or Jaga Jaga, it is open to all Nillumbik residents.


Deer in Nillumbik.jpg

Learning opportunities

A 2021 program of deer related information sessions, field days and workshops has been developed, based on what the community have told us they want to learn more about.

 They are designed to assist landholders and community groups with managing deer on their land. 

Many of these sessions will be online or  hosted outdoors with a limited number of attendees, due to ongoing COVID restrictions.

The best way to stay up to date with events is to subscribe to the Deer Community Mailing List. Subscribers are sent invitations to all deer-related events.

There are also a couple of sessions especially for accredited hunters or those providing deer management services (such as monitoring or fencing). To be invited to these sessions and to find out about the proposed Local Community Deer Directory, please subscribe to the Deer Industry Mailing List 

For all Nillumbik Shire Council events focussed on deer management, please visit our Environment Events and Activities Page

Planned session topics currently include:

We can also arrange property visits to talk to landholders and their neighbours about their specific deer issues and management options.  Contact the Environment team for more details,

For more information email


coarse deer hair on wire 2.jpg

Site inspections

As well as learning theory and participating in field demonstration days, you may also be eligible to book in to have a specialist deer contractor visit you at your property to provide some tailored advice.

Such visits will be focused within the key project area - in locations which could be strategic control sites, or where deer are causing significant damage.

Advice will include whether the property is viable and suitable for deer control, and associated options. 

Options might include:

  • asset protection advice
  • whether volunteer shooters or professional contractors should be utilised (based on property specifics)
  • which neighbouring properties you should team up with to optimise results


Can I have a say?

The project seeks to answer your burning questions about deer - and provide an opportunity for the exchange of ideas with us as well as other residents. 

Council is not yet expert in deer control, but we are quickly gaining an understanding of available options, and how to get the best results from deer control.

Field Days and Workshops need to be relevant to your needs. Complete this survey so we can best understand your needs and the questions you want answered.  We’ll source the experts to upskill us all.

Here is a preliminary summary of survey responses(PDF, 754KB) received between February and June 2020


How can I stay informed?

Please join the Mailing List for the project updates and notifications for events as they are announced.

If you are a professional, amateur or volunteer hunter, pest animal controller or harvester, deer fencing contractor or other relevant profession who would like to get involved in a project session, add your details to a Community Deer Directory, or attend sessions geared towards hunters, please register your interest here.  


Why is Nillumbik Shire Council undertaking this project?

View this wonderful mini-documentary prepared by the Middle Yarra Landcare Network - showing damage done to local environments.

ABC Landline has also covered the topic of deer, mainly in relation to farms and national parks. Watch the full 15 minute segment here.  For further information, you may also be interested in reading about the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions deer management research collaboration here.


To help minimise environmental damage

Deer are causing significant damage to native vegetation and waterways in Nillumbik. 

The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 lists Sambar deer as a threatening process to the biodiversity of native vegetation.  This listing is supported by the experience of local ecologists in Nillumbik who are very concerned about the ecological impact of Sanbar deer and other deer species found locally. 

In many areas of the Shire, deer are:

• Over-browsing and causing the destruction of ground and mid-storey vegetation.  This is significantly reducing the presence of native flora species, including several threatened species; and is reducing the habitat of ground-dwelling animals like dunnarts, and limiting feed options for many other fauna.

• Destroying saplings and seriously damaging tree health by rubbing against tree trunks. 

• Damaging waterways with their hard hooves and wallowing, which is causing erosion and reducing water quality.  

“At Dunmoochin we are becoming increasingly alarmed at damage by deer, particularly in our precious wetter areas. This damage seems to be escalating dramatically and is threatening to our rare orchid territory with serious damage already evident. Deer crossing riparian zones are also degrading the banks. Dunmoochin also has lots of roo traffic, but deer tracks and crossings under hard hoof impact are creating much, much more damage. The weight of the deer and the concentration of the foot print are wearing crossings into prime erosion sites”.   

David Nicholls, Dunmoochin Landcare Group

To help minimise agricultural damage

Rural landowners in Nillumbik are reporting that deer are increasingly causing damage to their vineyards, orchards and rural grazing livelihoods.

They are reporting impacts such as water spoilage, erosion, damage to fences, tree crops, vines and shelterbelts and an increasing struggle to achieve good pasture via rotational grazing. 

To help protect public safety

Deer represent a public risk in terms of being a road traffic hazard.

There is also a concern that hunting by inexperienced or illegal hunters has the potential to cause death, injury or property damage.

Participation in this project will assist landholders to understand deer control options, and available advice and support. 


Need for neighbourhood / community collaboration

There are a number of different approaches being undertaken across Victoria and in other states, attempting to reduce deer numbers and damage. What has been recognised, is that collaboration is essential to achieve visible results.

What has been recognised, is that collaboration is essential to achieve visible results.


Examples of community and landscape scale deer control in Victoria and NSW

Some examples of community and landscape scale deer control are:

Cardinia Deer Management Coalition

A group of local farmers who are matched with local volunteer deer hunters to conduct shooting programs on large rural properties. Hunters are provided with training and undertake competency tests.

The Coalition is made up of local citizens and allied groups who are concerned about the environmental and other impacts of feral deer in the Cardinia Creek catchment. They are strongly committed to community safety, and an effective, targeted and humane approach to deer control.

Manningham - Jumping Creek Catchment Landcare Group

A proactive group was set up after residents in a street joined up to tackle their shared deer problems. The Landcare Group facilitates the employment of a professional deer contractor to undertake regular deer control in bushland and rural properties. Landholders contribute funds to a shared kitty which pays for the contractor to conduct works across the area. Council contributes to the program through their LEAF program.

Nillumbik - Sugarloaf Link Program

A grant-funded program offering deer control to property owners in Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills and Watsons Creek, around the Sugarloaf Reservoir.

This program is funding professional deer contractors, who have identified the most effective properties on which to undertake shooting operations.

Shire of Yarra Ranges

This Council is undertaking deer control to support the recovery of the Helmeted Honeyeater in the Yellingbo area.

North East Catchment Management Authority

After a significant increase in deer populations and damage, information has been included on their website. They have some great videos as well on the impacts of deer in these more rural areas, which are also relevant to Nillumbik.




Upper Murray Landcare

Developed a detailed handbook on dealing with the issue of feral deer -- who to contact, signage and shooting (“Deer Management Information for Private Landholders”). This kit was put together in response to the Upper Murray Deer Forum in 2015.

Lyn Coulston (Blackberry Taskforce) has been instrumental in spearheading this collaborative approach to deer control.

Victorian Government

A draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy was released for public consultation in October 2018.

The final version was released in October 2020 as the Victorian Deer Control Strategy

Since the release of the VDCS, the Department of Environment, Land and Planning (DELWP) has commenced the process of setting up Regional Deer Partnership Groups (including a peri-urban group), which will be responsible for developing Regional Plans. These five-year plans will outline the most cost-effective and strategic locations to undertake deer control and other measures and will create a delivery plan including control methods, funding and monitoring.

More information can be found at


NSW Government

To better support landholders managing the current drought conditions and abundant deer herds, the NSW Government amended the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 in September 2019. The change removes the requirement to hold a NSW Game Hunting Licence, allowing licensed and reputable hunters to assist landholders with feral deer management on private land. This allows deer to be managed in the same way that rabbits, foxes, pigs and goats are controlled.

A formal control order has not been made under the Biosecurity Act 2015, which means there will be no obligation to eradicate placed on landholders and managers beyond the general biosecurity duty.


Examples of deer control works being undertaken in the vicinity of Nillumbik

  • Various private properties across Nillumbik are undertaking deer control themselves, with volunteer shooters, and/or with professional shooters
  • Parks Victoria deer control in Kinglake National Park
  • City of Whittlesea deer control adjacent to Kinglake National Park
  • Melbourne Water deer control within Sugarloaf and Yan Yean reservoirs (expected to commence in 2020)
  • Manningham Council / Jumping Creek Catchment Landcare group deer control
  • Deer exclusion fencing is being erected on private and public land to protect threatened species and other assets, for example by individual landholders and via the Nillumbik Conservation Futures project and the Communities Environment Program orchid conservation project.

Please let us know if you are aware of other examples by emailing


Project Partners

This Nillumbik Collaborative Community Deer Action program seeks to create project partners and networks, and in particular to potentially develop local deer management collectives. These would take different forms, depending on the preferences of participants.

Council is also working closely with a variety of agencies, organisations and forums to help enhance the success and the outcomes of Nillumbik collaborative community deer action.

These include:

  • Victoria Police
  • Yarra Catchment Deer Network Forum
  • Nillumbik Landcare Network and individual Landcare Groups
  • Parks Victoria (Middle Yarra)
  • Melbourne Water Corporation
  • Eastern Pest Animal Network
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
  • Neighbouring Councils
  • Victorian National Parks Association
  • Catchment Management Authorities
  • Professional and volunteer deer shooters
  • Local Meat Processing Facilities



Useful resources that will be developed

Tangible and practical outcomes of the project will be determined and developed in consultation with community members over the course of the project.

 These might include:

  • Dedicated web page for deer control in Nillumbik with links to relevant organisations (such as Game Management Authority, DELWP, Sporting Shooters Association, Australian Deer Association), important contacts (such as District Firearms Officer), links to rules and regulations etc
  • Assistance in the establishment of local Deer Management ‘collectives’ / ‘action groups’ which may be associated with Landcare – to facilitate ongoing collaborative deer management.
  • Nillumbik Deer Directory: a listing of, for example, professional and recreational/volunteer  deer controllers; deer fencing contractors; game meat processors; and local deer management action groups. To be invited to an information session outlining requirements for inclusion in the Directory, please ensure that you are subscribed to the Industry Deer Mailing List.



Reporting Deer Sightings

Nillumbik Shire Council strongly recommends recording all deer sightings through the FeralScan website or phone app.

This will help Council identify areas in need of assistance, as well as track deer movements through the landscape.  Increased data and knowledge of deer presence in the area will help define the extent of the issue.

Simply set up an account and enter sightings as you see them.  No photographic evidence is required, but it is extremely beneficial. 

Data is closely protected through FeralScan, and users of the site cannot view deer locations at property level, thus protecting landholders from any illegal hunting.  Nillumbik Environment Officers have access to this dataset to assist with deer control through the municipality.


To find out more - and to get involved

Any questions can be directed to Michelle Hanslow, Environment Project Officer, on 9433 3543 or email

To join our mailing list to receive project updates and early bird invitations to attend project information sessions / demonstration days etc please sign up here.

If you are a professional, amateur or volunteer hunter, pest animal controller or harvester, deer fencing contractor or other relevant profession who would like to be involved in a project session please register your interest here.   


Contacts, Links and Research

Nillumbik Deer Management for Landholders

Game Management Authority: 136 186 (Zachary Powell)

Prime Safe: (03) 9685 7333 (Rick Partelli)

Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, Deer Management: (03) 9637 9486 (Damien McMaster, Invasive Species, Biodiversity Division)

Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Farmer Assist Program: (08) 7099 6431 (Matthew Godson)

Sporting Shooters Association of Australia 

SSAA Farmer Assist Program

SSAA Conservation and Pest Management Program

Controlling Deer on Private Property

Authorisation form for Landowners 2018 - Permission to shoot deer on private property 

Deer meat processing

Commercial Deer processing

• A Systematic Review of the impacts and management of introduced deer in Australia - CSIRO

Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals in Hunting - Agriculture Victoria

• Deer Management Information and Actions for a Control Program - Australian Deer Association (ADA) 

FeralScan (DeerScan) - Deer Sighting Phone App

Public Place Permit


Centre for Invasive Species Solutions

Report Illegal Hunting

Vertebrate Pest Management Association Australia (VPMAA)