GAME OVER: Deer in sights as feral species loses special status

These feral deer were spotted at an Illawarra property recently. Picture: Simon Cohen
These feral deer were spotted at an Illawarra property recently. Picture: Simon Cohen

A warm round of applause has greeted the NSW Government's action on feral deer, with environmentalists and the Opposition welcoming the announcement deer would no longer enjoy status as a "game" animal.

When this becomes a reality next month, it will mean that a special game licence is no longer needed before people can shoot pest deer - just a firearms licence and permission from the landowner.

The move was one of the first made by Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, and has brought a sigh of relief from regions where deer have been encroaching further into metropolitan areas.

Mr Marshall said removing game status would give landholders the upper hand in dealing with an "explosion" in numbers of the four-legged menace.

"As it stands, landholders are fighting these feral animals with one hand tied behind their back," he said. "It simply doesn't make sense for deer to have a semi-protected status while their population is soaring."

"Removing game status will give landholders more flexibility to manage deer and will bring its classification into line with other feral animals such as wild dogs, foxes, rabbits and pigs."

Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said the move "simplifies pest control".

"This will be a huge relief to land managers who have been tied up in wasteful red tape," he said. "No longer will contractors, friends and neighbours who plan to shoot feral deer on private land need a game licence.

"Shooters will still need a gun licence and abide by animal welfare laws."