The Invasive Species Council is urging Tasmanian bushwalkers, rural property owners, campers and others to help map the spread of feral deer across the state by using a new citizen science project app called Tassie Deer Spotters.

“We know deer are spreading across Tasmania and invading previously untouched areas such as the Wilderness World Heritage Area, but there is limited public information available on just how widespread deer are becoming,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.

“Deer damage agricultural land and native vegetation by overgrazing, trampling, ring-barking, rubbing their antlers against trees, spreading weeds, causing erosion and degrading water quality in creeks and rivers.

“We want everyone who loves the Tasmanian bush to help track and spot deer across the state, especially in national parks, Tasmania’s deep south, along the east coast and in the northwest using the new iNaturalist Tassie Deer Spotters app.

“Tasmania’s Midlands have long been a stronghold for deer but the introduced species is expanding its range and invading sensitive new environments, including on Bruny Island, where they are a fairly recent arrival.

“We also want to hear stories from farmers and land owners about their experiences with deer, especially if deer are damaging their properties or crops.

“The Tasmanian Government says effective long-term management of deer requires up-to-date information on deer numbers and their geographic distribution, and any help that can be provided by the public will help inform management strategies now, and in the future.

“Our new Tasmanian Deer Spotters app will help gather citizen science data on feral deer numbers and distribution and will also help feed this information into national databases.”

In 2020 the Tasmanian Government released aerial survey results estimating the number of deer now found in the state’s traditional hunting range at 54,000. The survey did not cover known deer populations in the south of the state, northwest and barely touched the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

There are fears Tasmania’s growing feral deer herds pose a very serious threat to the state’s wilderness areas. UTAS researchers have warned there could be as many as a million deer in the state by 2050 without a management plan to control population growth.

To become a Deer Spotter any Tasmanian resident can sign up for a free iNaturalist account, download the app and start sharing photos of deer and evidence of their presence such as hoof prints, damage and scats via the Tassie Deer Spotters project page.

For help on how to use the app you can visit the Invasive Species Council Tassie Deer Spotters page.

The Tasmanian Government is drafting a new ‘Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan’. In the submission of the ISC to the first stage of the draft plan, the Invasive Species Council has called on the government to ensure a new deer management strategy ensures:

  • Deer are managed as a pest animal in line with the rest of Australia.
  • Deer no longer receive special protection under the Tasmanian Wildlife Regulations.
  • Surveys of deer encroachment on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are completed and acted on.
  • Deer containment lines are drawn at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and other suitable boundaries and resources secured to ensure that all deer beyond containment lines are eradicated.
  • Deer are eradicated from Bruny Island within two years.

CHIEF EDITOR: Oh Deer.