Feral Rusa Deer
Whist deer continue to be farmed for meat, wild populations cause significant environmental and safety risk to our community.
In Rockhampton we have a population of one species of Feral Deer - Rusa Deer. It is estimated that there are 100-500 Feral Rusa Deer predominantly living in the Lakes Creek area. Council is currently employing different tactics to reduce the number of Rusa Deer impacting our rural and semi rural areas.
Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis)
Rusa are a tropical or subtropical species. They are semi-nocturnal, their preferred habitat being grassy plains bordered by dense brush or woodlands to which they can retire during daylight hours. They are:
- medium-sized, where stags may stand 110 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh around 120 kilograms
- have large ears, light tufts of hair above the eyebrows and large antlers that appear to be too large for their body size
- have coats that vary from greyish to yellowish or reddish brown, with darker brown on the hindquarters and thighs
- body hair is coarse and more sparse than other deer
- stags develop a mane during winter
- are generally found in small groups
- have no definite breeding seasons - hinds may produce three calves in two years, generally born March-April - this species has the potential for rapid population growth
- stags amass vegetation on their antlers, which they use to establish dominance over other males and to attract females.
Feral Deer impact Council parks and reserves by:
- Destroying plants by trampling, grazing or ringbarking
- Fouling waterholes due to wallowing behaviour
- Causing soil erosion
- Spreading weeds
Feral Deer impact your land and safety by:
- Increasing the risk of traffic accidents with cars and other vehicles
- Damaging gardens and fences through trampling and rutting
- Becoming a safety threat as deer become aggressive, especially during rutting stages and those that have become habituated to people.
What you can do:
Avoiding a deer-related traffic accident
Feral Rusa Deer pose a significant traffic hazard. Deer travel in groups in single file, therefore, if you sight one deer crossing the road, wait, and a second or third will soon be following.
The following information can help you avoid a deer collision:
- Slow down when you see deer signs. Driving more slowly will give you more time to avoid them.
- Like most wild animals, deer are easily frightened and will bolt at the last minute, so slow down if you sight deer near the roadside.
- Use extreme caution and slow speed when driving at dawn and dusk when deer are out foraging.
- Hit your horn when you see a deer near the road. This way the deer will know where your car is coming from and their instincts should move them away from your vehicle.
- Flash your headlight to signal to other drivers there is a hazard near the road and slow down if other drivers flash their lights at you.
- If you come across a deer on the road and you do not have sufficient time to avoid the animal, be mindful not to swerve into oncoming traffic, fencing, light posts and trees.