FAQ on feral deer

Why has the NSW Government changed the licensing requirement for hunting deer on private land?

The NSW Government has 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 will help encourage 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.

Does this change mean I don’t need my licence anymore?

NSW General Game Hunting Licence (G-Licence) holders who are not endorsed for the Native Game Bird Management Program are no longer required to hold their licence for hunting feral deer on private land.

If you want to participate in the Native Game Bird Management program and hunt native game birds on private land, you still require a G-Licence that is endorsed for game birds.

If you want to hunt deer and other feral species on public land, you are still required to hold a NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence).

Licence holders can also upgrade their G-Licence to hunt native game birds on private land or upgrade to an R-Licence for access to the NSW public land hunting program.

So I can now 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 public liability insurance coverage attached to your licence has been extended to cover you when hunting on private land. This means licence holders are now 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 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.

What are my options now?

If you hold a current G-Licence you can:

I'm an R-Licence holder, does this affect my licence?

These changes do not affect NSW Restricted Game Hunting Licence (R-Licence) holders as a game hunting licence is still required to hunt deer and other animals on public land.

Why should I upgrade my G-Licence to an R-Licence?

By upgrading to an R-Licence, you will be contributing to the success of regulated hunting in NSW that relies on legal, licensed and responsible hunters taking part and demonstrating their commitment to a supportive peer network.

R-Licence holders benefit with:

Additional public lands are being opened regularly and we continue to expand opportunities for firearms, pig dog and bow hunters.

I’d like to upgrade my G-Licence to an R-Licence; how do I go about it?

To upgrade to an R-Licence, you must first complete the R-Licence Accreditation Course with a Hunter LEAP trainer and be a member of a hunting club or organisation that is approved by DPI.

To complete the R-Licence Accreditation Course you can:

Alternatively, if you’d like to speak with someone about your options, phone our Hunter Education and Training team on 02 9842 8351.

What is the R-Licence Accreditation Course?

The R-Licence Accreditation Course is an open-book, multiple-choice test that takes around 30 to 45 minutes to complete.

The test consists of two sections. The first section is mandatory and comprises 20 multiple-choice questions which are focused on hunting law and the Hunters Code of Practice. The second section covers the four legal hunting methods for public land, also known as ‘R-Licence categories’ – firearms (rifles and shotguns), firearms (blackpowder), bows and dogs. You must attempt the questions of at least one category for your licence application.

I might be interested in hunting native game birds, how do I sign up for the Native Game Bird Program?

The Native Game Bird Management Program allows landholders to sustainably manage native game birds on agricultural lands in NSW with the help of licensed hunters who volunteer their time and resources.

You must complete the Waterfowl Identification Test (WIT), achieving a minimum score of NSW-T, and then apply for your licence to be endorsed for the Program. The WIT assesses your ability to identify game and non-game bird species so you may confidently target only those species legally provided for.

If you achieve the minimum score or higher, simply provide your WIT number or a copy of your WIT certificate to DPI and we will verify your accreditation with the Victorian Game Management Authority before reissuing your licence with ‘GB’ printed in the special conditions section. You will also receive an interim licence by email if you provide a current address.

How do I attempt the WIT?

Complete Form GB-W: Expression of Interest - Waterfowl Identification Test (PDF, 100.74 KB) to register your interest in completing the WIT in NSW. WIT assessments are scheduled when the minimum number of expressions of interest are met for different locations. We will also send you a copy of Duck WISE, the movie which the test is based on. You’ll also have the opportunity to complete a practice test in preparation for your assessment.

Do these changes mean that the NSW Government will now use 1080 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 am a bow hunter who hunts deer on private land, how will these changes affect me?

You no longer require a NSW General Game Hunting Licence (G-Licence) to hunt deer on private land.

You are still required to first obtain the landholder or managers permission to hunt on their property, observe all biosecurity management activities and act responsibility.

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

No, you no longer require a NSW Game Hunting Visitors Licence to deer hunt on private land in NSW, just the landholder or manager’s permission.

However, 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 still require a G-Professional Licence?

No, you no longer require a NSW General Game Hunting Professional Licence to professionally hunt 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 Game Licensing Unit Customer Service Team on 02 6363 7650 or game.licensing@dpi.nsw.gov.au.