Inaction on feral deer putting NSW motorists’ lives at risk

The NSW Government is putting motorists’ lives at risk by failing to tackle the state’s growing feral deer problem.

Data released under a freedom of information request reveals that the Illawarra suburbs of Helensburgh and Otford have recorded the most major collisions between motorists and feral deer over the past 13 years, with one fatality in 2012,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said.

The information shows all recorded vehicle collisions involving feral deer in the Wollongong and Lake Illawarra police command areas during the 13-year period 2005 and 2017.

  • There were 107 motor vehicle accidents, 90 rated as ‘serious’, including 28 resulting in injuries and one death.
  • Helensburgh recorded 18 major collisions with deer since 2005, followed by Otford with 10, Mount Ousley with seven and Figtree recording five.
  • The most dangerous roads in those areas for feral deer collisions are the F6 Freeway, on which 18 collisions were recorded, followed by Lady Wakehurst Drive with 14, the Princes Highway with eight and Lawrence Hargrave Drive six.

Across the state, deer numbers are rapidly growing, with the proportion of the state impacted by feral deer more than doubling from 8% of the state in 2009 to 17% in 2016, with most deer found in the state’s eastern third.

“The NSW Government must take action on the state’s growing feral deer problem by lifting their protected game status,” Mr Cox said.

“It’s time to cut the red tape designed to protect feral deer for hunters that is preventing farmers and land managers from controlling feral deer numbers. Deer are a destructive pest that destroy bushland, farmland and put people’s lives at risk.

“We need coordinated action across the state to suppress deer numbers and prevent them from spreading as well as funding for research into improved control measures.

“If action is not taken soon it’s just a matter of time before we see another human life lost in a collision with a feral deer.”

In 2016, the NSW Natural Resource Commission recommended the lifting of the game status for feral deer, while in July 2018, the South East and the Greater Sydney regional strategic pest animal plans designated deer as a ‘priority pest’.

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