FAQ on feral deer

Why did the NSW Government change the licensing requirement for hunting deer on private land?

The NSW Government changed the licensing requirement for hunting deer on private land to support landholders throughout NSW who are struggling with drought and managing abundant herds of feral deer on their property.

Given the wide range of impacts feral deer can have on environmental, agricultural and social values, deer are listed as a Key Threatening Process under biodiversity legislation and are a priority pest in Local Land Services Regional Strategic Pest Animal Management Plans.

Removing the licensing requirement encourages farmers to better manage deer, meet their Biosecurity Duty and preserve NSW’s favourable biosecurity status. It also allows individuals holding a firearms licence, and skilled bowhunters, to hunt them on private property with permission from the landholder.

Will deer be declared a pest?

No; a formal control order has not been made under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

This means that, while landholders have a general duty to take action where populations of deer are on their land, they will not be subject to penalties for not taking action or be obliged to totally eradicate those herds.

What is the General Biosecurity Duty?

The Biosecurity Act 2015 sets out a General Biosecurity Duty for everyone in NSW.

Do I need a licence to hunt deer in NSW?

Note: if you want to participate in the NSW Native Game Bird Management Program to target native game birds on private land, you must hold a NSW General Game Hunting Licence (G-Licence) or R-Licence that is endorsed for game birds.

So I can hunt deer on private land without any licences or other documents?

While the need for a game hunting licence has been removed, you must always have permission from the landholder or manager before you hunt.

If you intend to use firearms, you must also hold a current firearms licence issued by a state or territory authority.

What happens with my insurance, can I hold onto the licence and still be insured while hunting deer on private land?

Yes, if you hold a G-Licence or R-Licence, the $25 million public liability insurance coverage attached to your licence covers you when hunting on private land. This means licence holders are covered when hunting any species listed in the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002 on private land Australia-wide.

Do I still need a licence to hunt native game birds?

Yes, the changes to licensing for deer hunting have not changed the requirements for the Native Game Bird Management Program.

You are still required to hold a G-Licence or R-Licence with native game bird endorsement, and have permission to hunt from a landholder who is licensed to manage them, before seeking to hunt native game birds in NSW.

Will 1080 be used to manage deer numbers?

The vertebrate pest control product 1080 is a highly regulated tool for the widespread control of pest animals. Sodium fluoroacetate, the active ingredient in 1080, occurs naturally in many Australian plants.

1080 poison is not approved for routine control of feral deer. Any proposal to use 1080 in this way would first be considered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. This would involve a comprehensive assessment process to consider risks to human safety and non-target species as well as the potential for environmental residues.

I live overseas and visit NSW to hunt deer on a friend’s property; do I need a Visitors Licence?

No, you are not required to hold a NSW Game Hunting Visitors Licence to deer hunt on private land in NSW. However, you must have the landholder or manager’s permission.

If you are seeking to hunt native game birds on private land in NSW you must hold a visitor’s licence with endorsement for the Native Game Bird Management Program and hunt in the company of an Australian resident holding the same licence.

If you intend to hunt with firearms, you must contact the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry to obtain the relevant permits before entering NSW.

If you intend to hunt on public land in NSW, you are still required to obtain a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Visitors Licence (R-Visitors).

I operate a business that assists landholders manage deer on their properties; do I need a hunting licence?

No, there is no requirement to hold a hunting licence before professionally hunting deer on private land; however you are still required to have permission from the landholder and must hold a valid firearms licence if using firearms.

If I want to sell the meat from deer I harvest on private land; do I still need a G-Commercial Licence?

No, you no longer require a NSW General Game Hunting Commercial Licence to sell the meat or any other part of deer harvested on private land. However, you are still required to hold appropriate licences and complete training requirements with the NSW Food Authority.

If I want to conduct guided hunts for deer on private land; do I still need a G-Guide Licence?

No, you no longer require a NSW Game Hunting Guide Licence to guide other hunters targeting deer on private land; however you must continue to meet requirements with the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry relating to your activity, as well as overseas clients.

However, if your activities cover guiding individuals hunting under the Native Game Bird Management Program, you are still required to hold an endorsed G-Guide licence.

Who can I contact for more information?

If you'd like to speak with someone to discuss your options, contact the DPI Hunting Customer Service Team on 02 6363 7650 or hunting@dpi.nsw.gov.au.