Help us prevent feral deer getting out of control in the Northern Rivers. Before it’s too late.

Report all deer sightings as soon as possible.

Report sightings using the FeralScan Pest Mapping App.

If you can, include a photograph of the deer, the area and/or the scat (poo).

Click on the images below to find out more about how to identify feral deer species.

You can also download a copy of the Northern Rivers Feral Deer ID brochure.

Deer image credit: Game Management Authority, Victoria and Local Land Services NSW.

Sambar Deer
Cervus Unicolor
Male: up to 160cm, Female: up to 115cm
Male: 300kg, Female: 230kg
Lyre-like, 3 tines per antler up to 70 cm.

Prominent bat like ears with pale inner. Uniform dark brown coat with ginger andcream under-parts and light buff colour under chin. Uniform. Hair is very stiff and coarse.

Sambar Deer have serious environmental impacts and are spreading across much of NSW. They are likely to arrive in the Northern Rivers from the south.
Habitat & Herding
  • Sambar Deer are herbivores that graze on a wide range of grasses, shrubs and trees,depending on the season and availability of food
  • They are regarded as solitary animals and are almost never found in herds
  • They are semi-nocturnal and prefer to stay hidden during daylight
  • They can swim with their bodies fully submerged with only their head above water
  • September and October are their peak breeding season, but they can breed throughout the year.

Red Deer
Cervus Elaphus
Male: up to 120cm, Female: up to 90cm
Male: 135-220kg, Female: 95kg
Multi-pointed coplex up to 90cm

Large pale rump patch. Ears are normally long and pointed. Grey-brown in Winter. Reddish in colour during summer. Short tail. Calves have distinct white spots.

Red Deer are found in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. They can grow to three times the size of a red kangaroo and will pose significant risks on our roads if they become established the Northern Rivers.
Habitat & Herding
  • Red Deer prefer mixed grassland, rainforest and woodland areas
  • They may be seen in open areas but usually only when it’s close to thick, timbered vegetation
  • They mainlygraze on woody trees and shrubs as well as grasses, sedges and forbs
  • Red deer have a strong herding instinct and a highly developed social order
  • Breeding ismainly in April, and females give birth 8-9 months later in December or January
  • Males are only territorial during mating season and roar to attract females

Rusa Deer
Cervus Timorensis
Male: Up to 120cm, Female: Up to 90cm
Male: 135kg, Female: 90kg
Antlers three lyre-like tines. Up to 96 cm

Coat is coarse. Heavy dark grey-brown duringwinter. Reddish-brown during summer with light chest and throat spots.

Males have: Mane

In NSW Rusa are widely distributed along the NSW coast, Queensland and South Australia. Rusa Deer are likely to arrive from the north, west and south of our region.
Habitat & Herding
  • Rusa Deer are herbivores that graze on a wide range of grasses, shrubs and trees
  • They are often seen in small groups
  • They can breed all year round, and usually produce one calf between March and April
  • They can breed with Sambar Deer and produce fertile offspring
  • They can also breed with red deer, but only produce fertile female offspring
  • The male Rusa Deer often decorates their antlers with twigs and grass during the breeding season to establish dominance over other males
Hog Deer
Axis Porcinus
Male: up to 70kg, Female: up to 60cm
Male: 55kg, Female: 30kg
Usually three points on each side, thin up to 35 cm

Uniform yellow-brown to red-brown coat. May have white spots in summer and a dark brown coat in winter. Underside is white/cream. Smallest deer species in Australia.

Known locations: Victoria and NSW
Habitat & Herding
  • The Hog Deer inhabit coastal tea-tree swamps
  • The hog deer is a herding animal
  • They like to graze at dawn and dusk
  • The males shed their antlers irregularly, but usually from August to October

Chital Deer
Axis Axis
Male: up to 95cm, Female: up to 80cm
Male: 60-100kg, Female: 40-50kg
Flattened antlers up 50 cm with numerous points.

Highly variable in colour including red, black,white and menil (spotted). Heart shaped palerump patch with black outline. Long tail.

Males have: Penile sheath, Adams apple

There are wild populations of Chital Deer in Queensland near Charters Towers, with other smaller isolated population in NSW. Range and densities are increasing from isolated pockets and deliberate release for hunting, which is causing significant impacts on farming communities already under stress. Chital Deer are likely to arrive from the north and west of our region.
Habitat & Herding
  • Chital deer are herbivores that graze on a variety of grasses, fruit and leaves
  • They can form herds of more than 100
  • They don’t have a defined breeding season, and they can produce up to three offspring in two years
  • They will eat their shed antlers if their diet is lacking vitamins and minerals
  • Females separate from the herd during birthing and rearing of their young

Fallow Deer
Dama Dama
Male: up to 95 cm, Female: up to 80cm
Male: 60-100kg, Female: 40-50kg
Flattened antlers up 50 cm with numerous points.

Highly variable in colour including red, black, white and menil (spotted). Heart shaped pale rump patch with black outline. Long tail.
Males have: Penile sheath, Adams apple.

Fallow deer are the most widespread and established feral deer species in Australia. They are likely to arrive in the Northern Rivers from the north of our region.
Habitat & Herding
  • Fallow deer inhabit semi-open scrubland and graze on pasture that is close to cover
  • Fallow deer are a herd deer
  • They breed during April and May
  • Fawns are born in December
  • In rut, or breeding season, the buck makes an unmistakable croak, like a grunting pig
  • The calls vary from high pitched bleating to deep grunts

Why is feral deer identification so important?

Deer are not native animals to Australia. They were introduced in the 19th Century and there are now  six species of feral deer in Australia.

There are currently four known feral deer species in the Northern Rivers, but our local habitats are suitable for all six species.

We have a window of opportunity to prevent their numbers getting out of control, and causing significant impacts on road safety, our environment and the livelihoods of our farmers.

We encourage you to try identifying the feral deer species you see, before you report it, but it doesn't matter if you can't. The most important thing is to report the sighting on Deer Scan, and send in a photo if you can.

Scats and tracks

Identifying deer scats and tracks can also help us monitor feral deer presence and numbers in The Northern Rivers.


Deer produce triangular (heart shaped) or oblong scats that may be deposited either singly or in clumps of pellets. Clumps of deer scat usually break down into separate pellets when they hit the ground. The size and form of scats may vary within and between different species of deer.

It’s easy to confuse deer scat with scat from animals like sheep and goats.


Deer tracks are generally more triangular than other animals like goats and sheep.

Distinguishing features

  • Two elongated toes make up the hoof
  • Slight gap between toes on both feet

Would you like us to send you a handy Feral Deer ID pocket guide?

Having information in your pocket, backpack or car will help you identify feral deer species. To get a copy, please join our Deer Watch program.