This report looks into the sustainability and health of deer within Victoria's regional areas.
Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) are a popular and highly valued game species in Victoria, with licensed hunters permitted to harvest one male and one female during an annual hunting season during the month of April. All harvested deer must be tagged and presented at a checking station within 24 hours of harvest. A variety of morphological and biological data are recorded for each harvested animal during inspection at the checking stations.
The objectives of this study were to (i) summarise biological data collected for all Hog Deer inspected at the four mainland checking stations during 1997–2011 (i.e. excluding Sunday Island, which is owned and managed by the Para Park Co-operative Game Reserve Limited), and (ii) provide recommendations for improving the usefulness of future data collection. A total of 1122 deer were presented at the mainland checking stations (70.4% male; 29.6% female) during 1997–2011, with annual totals ranging from 38 in 1999 to 111 in 2011.
There was little evidence that the number or sex ratio of deer harvested annually changed substantially over the course of the study period. The overall percentages of deer harvested on public (52%) and private (48%) land also did not show any discernable trend during the study period. The ages of deer (estimated by molar eruption and tooth wear) ranged from 1 to 12 years for females and males. Although the age structures differed slightly for females and males, there was no evidence that this changed over the study period, although inconsistent recording of ages limited the opportunity for quantitative analyses of these data.