You cannot move, sell, keep or release feral deer in South Australia. If you see or hear of someone releasing deer, please contact PIRSA Biosecurity or your local Natural Resources office.
Feral deer species found in South Australia
There are six species of deer that are feral in South Australia but Fallow and Red Deer are most common.
Identification of feral deer in South Australia is available on the Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin website.
Deer are an agricultural, environmental and social pest. Deer eat native plants, trample saplings, and rub against mature plants. They compete with native wildlife and livestock for grass, and contribute to erosion in creek and river systems. They can also be a hazard on roads.
Populations of deer are expanding and invading new areas, partly due to escapes from deer farms or deliberate introductions by recreational hunters, and also due to insufficient control of existing populations.
Controlling deer found on your property
How you manage deer found on your property will depend if they are:
- escaped farmed deer identified with ear tags
- feral deer.
Controlling escaped farmed deer found on your property
Deer keepers should notify neighbouring landowners when they know deer have escaped from their farm. This allows deer keepers some opportunity to recover their stock.
Escaped farmed deer can be recognised by their visible ear tags. If you have found tagged deer on your property and you:
- Have been notified by a deer keeper – you must allow 48 hours before culling, selling or disposing of any deer with visible tags, found wandering on your property. You may assist the deer keeper in recovering their farmed deer, by providing the deer keeper with the location of the escaped deer. After 48 hours, you must arrange to have the deer on your property culled.
- Have not been notified by a deer keeper – you must arrange to have the deer on your property culled or disposed of.
The responsibilities relating to escaped farmed deer are expected to change once the SA Landscapes Act is enacted, to allow escaped farmed deer with visible ear tags to be protected from destruction for 7 days, and to require neighbouring landholders to notify the NRM board or the deer farmer of the escape.
Controlling feral deer on your property
Landholders are responsible for culling all feral deer on their properties under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.
Methods for effective disposal of feral deer are limited to shooting. A shooting program can be improved by spotlight shooting at night. Always use suitable calibre firearms, projectiles and shot placement.
Feral deer control techniques are available on the PestSmart Connect website.
You can also consider engaging a commercial harvester to cull deer on your property.
Engaging a commercial harvester to cull feral deer
If feral deer are affecting your property you can choose to engage a commercial harvester to shoot the deer on your property.
PIRSA doesn’t nominate or endorse harvesters – you must engage with them directly.
Use our commercial harvester selection criteria () to help you select a harvester that may suit your needs.
You can find commercial harvesters by searching online or by contacting a licenced game meat processor who can also assist. There are currently 5 licenced game meat processors in South Australia, 3 have agreed to be listed below:
Crossroads Game Meats
Phone: 08 8642 6066
Mobile: 0409 091 052
Advice for managing feral deer on your property
If you need independent feral deer management advice you can contact PIRSA’s Feral Deer Control Coordinator:
Phone: (08) 8303 9620
We encourage neighbours to work together to reduce populations of feral deer, whether or not the deer are harvested for commercial use.
Hunting feral deer
Before hunting for feral deer on any property you must know and follow the laws, for details see our:
- Recreational deer hunting fact sheet ()
- Recreational hunting of feral deer frequently asked questions (FAQs) ()
Illegal hunting is when someone hunts (poaches) on land without the landholder’s permission, or without a hunting permit, for details see our:
For advice on state policy and feral deer control:
Phone: (08) 8303 9620
Feral deer management and legislation:
- Managing feral deer fact sheet ( or )
- Feral deer policy 2019 ()
- Natural Resources Management (General) Regulations 2005
Commercial harvester and game meat processor criteria and requirements:
- Selection criteria for choosing a commercial feral deer harvester ()
- Wild game field harvesting factsheet ()
- For information on food safety for meat