Nillumbik Deer Control Project

Graphic image of a deer outline

Feral deer in Victoria and peri-urban Melbourne, including Nillumbik, are affecting biodiversity, water quality, public safety, agricultural assets and Aboriginal cultural heritage.

As such, in 2022, the Victorian Government released its Peri-urban Deer Control Plan 2021–26, which is their plan to reduce the impact of deer across the peri-urban region east and north of Melbourne. 

Under the plan, the Victorian Government has been funding the “Nillumbik Deer Control Project” since November 2022, to organise and fund deer control works on private property and a small number of Council-owned reserves in priority areas.

The project was funded $230,000 in the initial period, which ran between November 2022 and December 2023. At the end of 2023, the project was approved for continuation until June 2025, with a further allocation of $300,000.

They have also allocated funding to Parks Victoria sites, and to some of our neighbouring councils, to help support collaborative and holistic deer control across the region.


Information on the Nillumbik Deer Control Project is provided below.

Aim of the Nillumbik Deer Control Project

The Nillumbik Deer Control Project aims to reduce local deer numbers and interrupt their southward spread, to reduce their geographic range and impacts.

It builds upon:

  • The deer control work that many landholders across the shire and the region are already undertaking.
  • The outcomes of the Sugarloaf Link deer control project which Council ran between November 2019 and September 2021. In that project, 330 Sambar and 27 Red Deer were culled across 49 private properties and one Parks Victoria reserve.
  • The outcomes of the Kangaroo Ground deer control project which Council ran in 2021. In that project, 62 Sambar were removed from private properties.
  • The outcomes of the deer cull program that Melbourne Water has been operating at Sugarloaf Reservoir, which is seeking to eradicate Red Deer from that site.

Why deer control is important

Wild deer negatively affect biodiversity, water quality, public safety, agricultural assets and Aboriginal cultural heritage.  

For example:

  • Biodiversity impacts: Deer are over-browsing and causing destruction of ground and mid-story vegetation, reducing the presence of native flora and thereby habitat for native fauna; destroying saplings and damaging mature trees; and damaging waterways with hard hooves and wallowing, causing erosion and reducing water quality.
  • Agriculture impacts – Deer are competing with farmed stock for feed; damaging fences, tree crops, vines and shelterbelts; and altering water quality, causing erosion and compacting soils.
  • Aboriginal Cultural Heritage impacts – Deer are causing the loss of plant species that are culturally important for medicine and food; and rubbing scar trees.
  • Road safety impacts – Deer are becoming a high collision risk, particularly between dusk and dawn.

Map of the Project area

The Nillumbik Deer Control Project has a total project area comprising over 10,000 hectares across the southern, western and northern reaches of the Shire, as shown below.   

It is expected that deer control will be undertaken on up to 10 per cent of the project area.

This is an image of the Nillumbik deer control project area

How we will determine where to target the deer control

The deer control will be targeted to multiple ‘sectors’ (groups of properties) within the project area where:

  • Safe shooting is possible
  • Multiple and neighbouring properties express interest
  • Productive shooting is possible (i.e. conditions indicate that many deer can be removed in an efficient manner)
  • There is good access
  • There is evidence of deer impact
  • There is strategic benefit

Having a large project area will enable the contractors to rotate between different ‘sectors’, enabling areas to be rested when necessary.

To date we have found that deer control is most successful on larger properties (or a group of neighbouring properties) with good access and with patchworks of bushland and grass, particularly where multiple adjoining properties have been participating. 

Who will be conducting the deer control

Council has engaged three highly experienced, licensed, professional deer control companies/contractors to plan and undertake the deer control works (ground-based deer shooting).

They are: Abzeco, Sako and Victorian Pest Animal Control (VPAC).

They all carry Council-issued identification.

They all have operating procedures which prioritise safety.

How you can get involved

Any landholder residing within the project area who is interested in having deer control undertaken on their property is invited to contact Council's (part-time) deer project officer via email at or via phone 9432 3111.

Additionally, Council and/or the contractors proactively reach out to some targeted properties, via mail and/or door knocking, inviting these landholders to participate in the project.

A property’s eligibility and priority for participating in the project is considered according to the criteria outlined above in ‘How we will determine where to target the deer control’

Please note that as we are now nearing the end of the project period, very few new properties are able to be added.  However, please don't let that stop you from contacting us to express interest in involvement, as there may be future opportunities.

There are Terms and Conditions(PDF, 393KB) associated with involvement in the project, and a Landholder Agreement Form(PDF, 393KB) has to be completed and submitted.

If your property is involved in the program, this is what will happen

Before any works take place on a property, one of our deer control contractors will have a discussion with the landholder about potential control works and carcass retrieval options that are suitable for the site, will usually visit the property, and will answer any questions you may have. They also review aerial photography and sometimes deploy a drone to obtain real-time information.

If you’re happy to proceed, the contractor will then prepare a Shoot Plan which specifies exactly where on the property they propose to work, and depicts where access points are, buildings and homes, key features, any hazards, shooting directions and also no-go zones. 

This Shoot Plan is submitted to the local Victoria Police District Firearms Officer and has to be approved before works can proceed as part of this Project.

The contractor will also:

  • Discuss the likely pattern or frequency of deer control works
  • Ask how you would prefer to be communicated with during the course of the project.
  • Provide you with a project Landholder Agreement form to sign (if you haven’t already)
  • Provide you with a GIC form to sign (Unprotection of deer on private property)
  • Talk with your neighbours; and obtain their contact details so that they can be advised ahead of works, and maybe join the project. 

Find out more

You can contact our Deer Project Officer by emailing or phoning 9432 3111.

You can also register to be kept informed about the project via our deer project e-newsletter.

We have additional deer management and control information available on our website that you may find helpful.