Wide-eyed, sleek, graceful and elusive. Deers are something of a revered creature. Cartoon cute, they conjure up images of Northern hemisphere pine forests, log cabins and antlers above fireplace framed mantelpieces. But until relatively recently, if you told me there were scores of deer living in balmy Brisbane, I would have declared 'deer dust' and that you were pulling my hoof.
Alas, dear reader - nee deer reader, you may be pleased this is not an urban myth or a belated attempt at April 1 tomfoolery. Believe it or not, they've been trotting and trampling their way through the Brisbane valley for centuries.
Which Species of Feral Deer Are Found Around Brisbane?
Bring the Deer: An I-deer Born in the 1800s
Deer didn't come here by accident and were introduced and released into southern Queensland between 1870-1874. Today, there are three main species of wild deer found around Brisbane, including the Red Deer, Fallow Deer, and Rusa Deer.
In 1873, a shipment of male and female adult red deer and four hinds were sent from Britain to the Queensland Acclimatisation Society from Queen Victoria, a gift to the state named in her honour. These arrived from Windsor Castle aboard the migrant vessel 'Great Queensland' They were released from Esk with approval shortly after and are now the red deer is considered a distinct feature of the Somerset region.
The most prolific species of deer found around Brisbane, the antlers of Fallow deer most closely resembles a hand with fingers splayed, tan coloured and white flecks near the hind.
Native to South East Asia, especially the Indonesian islands this medium subtropical species of deer are considered to fight less than other deers during the breeding season, with stags developing a mane during winter months. Rusa deer also have thinner and coarser hair compared to other species.
Anything to Fear From Deer?
You shouldn't approach wild deer, especially during breeding season from March to April - known as 'the rut.' This is when stags can become aggressive. Also, they can pose significant traffic hazards should they stray onto roads, especially in areas where deer populations are found and around deer warning signs, always be aware and slow down. For property owners on the edges of bush and grassland, there might not be anything to fear from deer, however, they are considered a pest and invasive, as they may stray into residential areas looking for food and feeding on other plants.
Deer in Jindalee on edge of Centenary Highway - Courtesy of Nikki Baker (facebook)
Brisbane'swestern suburbs are the centre of deer populations, (Facebook link) specifically suburbs of Pullenvale, Bellbowrie and Jindalee. There are also regular sightings of red deer around the Seven Hills Reserve in Carina.
One of my friends, who first alerted me to the fact that there were deer in Brisbane at all, said she hasn't seen them for months after I enquired about sightings, but not long after she sent me this picture of deer chilling out on the edge of a Brendale property.
Deer on the edge of a suburban property (courtesy of Danni Gordon)
It definitely seems like the chances of seeing them during daylight is low, and deer in the headlights is actually the most common chance of stag sighting. If you're like me and 'fawn' over the delightfully lashed creatures you might be wondering how you can ensure a dearly beloved encounter - sadly, the chances of spotting one by chance is slim. However if you'd like a guaranteed deer experience, you can always visit the Lyell Deer Sanctuary at Mount Samford where you can feed and pet rescued deers.The sanctuary is open on the weekends to the public and entry is $10.00 per family group.
So here you have it. Deer in Brisbane. If you're in certain Western parts of the city you're more likely to spot the dear creatures on the loose, doe-eyed and likely aloof.