A resident in Heathcote says he thought a car had come through the front of his house after he was woken by two deer fighting on his front lawn.
Ronald and Joan Stansfield woke up just after midnight last Tuesday to banging and crashing outside their home.
“I thought a car had come through the front of the house,” Mr Stansfield said.
“When I opened up the blinds there were these two big deer with their antlers locked and they were going backwards and forwards, and one went right back into the house.
“They made a mess of the outside of the wall and knocked over a pot plant.
“We must have watched them for a good half a minute. They dug all the lawn up.”
He said he had lived in the area for 25 years and had never seen anything like that – nor had his wife who had lived in Heathcote much longer.
“You sometimes see deer droppings on the lawn but I have never seen anything like that.”
He said they lived a few hundred metres down the road from the Heathcote National Park, which is opposite the much larger Royal National Park.
Australian Deer Association Sydney branch secretary Paul Dendrinos said it was common for stags (adult male deer) to fight during the mating season.
“They fight hard. They want to establish their territory and they don’t want another male to come and steal his girls,” Mr Dendrinos said. “Only the males fight. The girls never fight.”
He said the mating season, also known as the rut, lasted for about six to eight weeks.
He said when the rut was over, stags lived very secluded lives and it was much harder to spot them.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is in charge of culling deer in the national parks. Rusa deer are the only deer species remaining in the Royal National Park region and are considered a pest.
“At the moment rusa deer are approaching their peak breeding period so they are more active, observable and more of a public nuisance at this time of year,” an NPWS spokesperson said.
“This is one of the reasons NPWS concentrate their control effort now.”
The service has been controlling deer numbers since 2002 in the Royal National Park. A total of 77 deer were culled last year in the park and, as of this week, 25 had been culled in 2017.
“NPWS control deer in our national parks as they have been identified as the major cause for the significant decline of many Australian plant and animal species.”
The NPWS spokesperson said they had not noticed a rise in deer numbers this year compared to last year in the area.
Rusa deer are “medium-sized” deer and can stand up to 110cm tall at the shoulder weighing up to 140kg, according to the Australian Deer Association website.
The Sutherland Shire Council encourages residents to report deer sightings when spotted in residential areas. You can find out more about reporting sightings of rusa deer here.
Have you taken any photos of deer recently spotted near the national parks?