Protected Species vs Pest Animal
Why has the Victorian government persisted with classing deer as “protected” ?
Commonwealth and state governments recognise that deer are a key threatening process in
the landscape; they are having a major financial impact on farming communities, are
threatening biodiversity and are an increasing danger on our roads. Deer are not native.
Victoria is the last remaining mainland state to keep listed deer as a protected species. All the others have declared them as a pest species, including now NSW, who changed their status in 2019. In Victoria, there is no official stated justification for their protected status. However, following discussions between government officials and the Cardinia Deer Management Coalition (CDMC), the following reasons seem to prevail:
1. Changing the status to pest animal will reduce the government’s ability to regulate the
manner in which deer are hunted. For example, hunters may not use the appropriate
calibre of weapon or weight of bullet, resulting in the inhumane killing or injury of deer.
They are also concerned about the use of spotlighting in relation to the hunter’s code of
a “fair chase.”
2. Changing the status to feral animal may cause a financial and management burden to
farmers. This is because landowners would then be compelled to control deer on their
property. It would also further compel government agencies to control deer on public
3. Unregulated hunting may encourage “rogue” hunters to target deer, especially in the
state parks and private land. This could become a public safety issue as less skilled and
less ethical hunters become more active.
4. Changing the status to pest species is not required anymore because of recent changes
to legislation removing the protected status of deer on private land if deer are causing
harm or damage. This means landowners can control deer (except for hog deer) on
private land without a permit.
The CDMC are strongly of the view that deer should be declared as a pest species in Victoria, as they already are in Queensland, South Australia, West Australia, The ACT and the Northern Territory. This would bring them into line with the other states and reflect in words and law the recognised seriousness of the problem of deer in the Australian landscape.
In giving our reasons, we will address each of the four topics listed above:
1. "Reducing the government’s ability to regulate the manner in which deer are hunted."
2. "A financial and management burden to farmers …", "compelled to control deer … "
3. "Unregulated hunting may encourage illegal hunters …"
4. "Changing the status to pest species is not required anymore because of recent changes