Feral deer

Deer live in a range of habitats and initiate damaging changes in plant communities by foraging selectively. However, deer are also keenly hunted for recreation and commercially harvested for venison.

facts 224Deer are selective browsers and target particular forest species over others. This can result in significant changes to forest composition and has effects on the fauna that rely on those plants. Deer can destroy the understorey of native forest by browsing, grazing, bark stripping and trampling, which in turn may increase soil erosion.  Feral deer can reduce production by damaging crops and exotic forests. They have also been implicated in the transmission of bovine Tb. 

Methods of control 


Where deer are feeding on pasture or winter crops, night shooting with the use of a spotlight is often effective (private land only). If you plan a hunt, call in for a free permit and the most up-to-date conditions for your trip. If you are hunting in an area with kiwi, weka or blue ducks, leave the dog at home or get it trained to avoid these birds.

Deer fence or predator-proof fence

Deer can be excluded from areas using deer fencing.

For more information on what you can do to control deer on your property go to the Department of Conservation's website

Legal requirements 

For a list of legal requirements check out the legal requirements page


The information on this website is intended to provide information about pests and pest management in New Zealand. We've made every effort to make sure that the information set out in this website is accurate. If you have an update to the information listed here please contact us.

Photo credit: Department of Conservation