Management of wild dog and deer in peri-urban landscapes: strategies for safe communities


Management of pest animals in the rapidly-expanding peri-urban region of eastern Australia requires tools and strategies markedly different to the rural landscape. The two priority pests for peri-urban councils are wild dogs and deer. Wild dogs are widespread through this region, but are becoming increasingly visible with raised public concern. Their impacts range from livestock and pet injury and loss, human harassment and even injury, being vectors of livestock and zoonotic disease, to predation on threatened wildlife. Managers have had some initial successes in controlling wild dogs, but these should be refined, extended and tailored to other areas.  

In contrast, for deer, a more fragmented distribution suggests management of source populations may be more fruitful. Deer have modest rates of increase relative to canids, so suppression of small populations is theoretically feasible. The difficulty has been removing sufficient animals. Control tools are limited to trapping, shooting and fencing, but the efficacy of these methods in peri-urban settings is unknown.  Methods for monitoring peri-urban deer have been developed overseas, but need to be evaluated in eastern Australia in order to guide and assess management actions. 

Peri-urban local governments have identified the need for better tools and strategies for control of wild dogs (and foxes) and deer.  

Behavioural science and engagement approaches are required to successfully identify, implement and monitor the success of strategies to manage pest animals in the peri-urban landscape. Planning workshops will be conducted to gauge community attitudes to wild dogs and deer issues, and guide the type, level and involvement in interventions required to reach ‘acceptable levels of pest impact’. Findings from these planning workshops will guide the interventions conducted. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting of such plans will be completed during the intervention phase to determine the success of the management intervention. This would mesh with more traditional assessments of control strategies and will focus on the monitoring of impacts (e.g. incident records) and activity (e.g. sightings, activity) as metrics of success.   




This project aims to provide, through collaborations and community-led actions, pest managers with alternative strategies for managing wild dogs and deer in peri-urban areas of eastern Australia. This will involve: 

  1. Refine and assess management techniques (e.g. trapping and ejectors for dogs) by drawing on a) an improved understanding of wild dog ecology from the recent IA CRC project, b) removal and monitoring data on deer collected by pest managers (NSW Local Land Services (LLS) and Qld local governments) and c) an improved understanding of community attitudes to peri-urban deer and wild dog management. 
  2. Develop, implement and monitor community engagement strategies for wild dogs and deer to facilitate the effective implementation of management strategies. 
  3. Test the application of new tools for wild dogs and potentially foxes (PAPP, ejectors, lethal trap devices) that have been identified as feasible and acceptable to the community. 
  4. Evaluate the costs and benefits of techniques and strategies for different situations, and develop decision support tools for local governments and other pest managers. 
  5. Improve the knowledge of and capacity for monitoring impacts/sightings/pest activity to provide pest managers with the ongoing ability to target and monitor control activities.   

Project Leader

Dr Matt Gentle
Project Team
  • Dr Matt Gentle, QDAF
  • James Speed, QDAF 
  • Dr Tony Pople, QDAF 
  • Michael Brennan, QDAF 
  • Dr Matt Amos, QDAF 
  • Dr Dave Forsyth, NSW DPI 
  • Dr Michelle Dawson, NSW South East LLS 
  • Professor Darryl Low Choy (Griffith University)  
  • Dr Sebastien Comte. NSW DPI
Project Partners
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF)
  • New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI)
  • New South Wales Local Land Services (NSW LLS)
  • ACT Parks and Conservation Service
  • Griffith University
  • Sunshine Coast Regional Council
  • Brisbane City Council

The project receives funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment


February 2021 update:

Wild dogs:

Local government collaborators have collated camera monitoring data from long-term wild dog baited (1080) and unbaited (nil treatment) sites. This data will be formally examined for (any) differences in wild dog and prey activity resulting from wild dog baiting. Outcomes will help to provide recommendations on the application and implementation (e.g. scale) of baiting activities in peri-urban areas.

Feral deer:

The deer monitoring program developed in the Illawarra basin has already been adopted by the LLS Greater Sydney for their current peri-urban control program. Through using a standardised method in Brisbane, Wollongong and now Sydney, the results will be comparable. The end-product will therefore be robust to be shared across local land managers in Australia.

August 2020 update:

Peri-urban local governments have identified the need for better tools and strategies for control of wild dogs (and foxes) and deer.

Wild dogs:

Visitation and capture rates of trapping are being compared to canid pest ejectors (CPE’s) to determine the most effective and cost-efficient way to remove wild dogs. Results indicate a low CPE interaction and activation rate for wild dogs and foxes, however CPEs remain target specific for delivering toxic doses to wild dogs and foxes. The data collected will help provide recommendations for the effective and safe use of CPE deployment and trapping for managing peri-urban wild dogs. A community led plan is also being developed through a community working group, with two workshops held to inform participants of the research being undertaken and the results to date.

Feral deer:

Feral deer densities are being monitored by faecal pellet count in response to ground shooting operations in two peri-urban areas in Queensland and New South Wales to identify the best management strategies for these invasive species. 2018 and 2019 faecal pellet data suggests deer numbers have increased. Additional monitoring sites have been identified and will be included in future pellet counts. Analysis of camera grid surveys is underway, which will assess the efficacy of control by local authorities

February 2020 update:

Wild dogs:

Data assessed from toxic Canid Pest Ejectors (CPEs) deployed in peri-urban areas of south-eastern Queensland has demonstrated the interactions and activations by wild dogs, foxes and non-target species. The activation rate of CPEs is lower in dogs (3%) than for foxes (12%). Although CPEs are target specific, non-target species activations reduce the efficiency of the technique. Visitation and capture rates of trapping are being assessed for comparison to CPEs to determine optimal recommendations for effective and cost-effective removal of wild dogs. Data on sightings or impacts reported to the local authority are also being captured as an outcome of control. The data collected will help provide recommendations for the effective and safe use of CPE deployment and trapping for managing peri-urban wild dogs.

A Community Led Plan for invasive animal management has progressed with a group of peri-urban residents. Two workshops were conducted allowing participants to be briefed about the research project and the findings to date and discuss opportunities for engagement and collaboration between the Working Group and Biosecurity Queensland/CISS.

Wild deer:

Wild deer densities were monitored by faecal pellet count (an index of deer abundance) in response to ground shooting operations in two peri-urban areas in Queensland and New South Wales to identify the best management strategies.

Preliminary analysis of faecal pellet count monitoring data indicate a decrease in faecal pellets on the more urban transects (around Wollongong) since 2018, and a slight increase in faecal pellets on the more rural transects since 2018.

Follow-up monitoring is planned, and a more sophisticated analysis of this time series will be conducted that incorporates management effort and biophysical variables. Based on the known impact of deer (resident complaints, road and rail collisions) and the management effort (ground shooting by contractors), up to 30 additional transects have been identified for the 2020 deer faecal pellet count.

Initial analysis of deer faecal pellet density data from transects in Brisbane suggest that deer numbers have slightly increased from 2018 to 2019. Analysis is underway of camera grid surveys to determine deer abundance. This data will enable local authorities to assess efficacy of control.

August 2019 update:

Wild dogs:

Interviews were conducted with peri-urban residents in the Toowoomba area who have an interest in wild dog control. A working group has been established to progress a community-led plan for invasive animal management.

Sightings and impacts of wild dogs reported to local authorities are being recorded to help refine guidelines for the safe use and effectiveness of long-term canid pest ejectors (CPEs) deployment in peri-urban areas. An average of 22% of toxic CPEs were activated over three-week periods by wild dogs and foxes at five sites in QLD.

GPS-collared wild dog movement was overlaid with modelled locations of control tools (CPEs, traps) placed at different distance intervals. Strategic placement of control tools at high impact locations (trail intersections) efficiently target wild dogs during long-term deployments. Alternatively, CPE placement at the highest permitted density would reduce the time until first encounter and removal of wild dogs.

Wild Deer:

Preliminary analysis of historical transect sites (NSW) indicate a population decrease in urban transects and an increase in rural transects since 2018. These transects will be monitored in 2020, and an improved analysis incorporating the historical data, management effort and biophysical values will be conducted.

Transect sites have also been established around Brisbane in 2018, with follow-up monitoring scheduled for 2020. Faecal pellet density and camera grids will help to determine deer abundance and determine efficacy of control by local authorities.

February 2019 update: 

A number of field sites have been established and monitoring of deer and wild dog abundance or other activity on these sites is ongoing. 

These sites will be used to assess effectiveness of control of wild dogs and deer over time. 

Camera monitoring of wild dog presence/activity was undertaken over a 2-month period at five sites within the Southern Queensland areas prior to deployment of canid pest ejectors (CPEs). Sites were chosen through consultation with project collaborators with criteria including historical and ongoing issues with wild dogs and suitability for longer-term CPE deployment.   

Community engagement with peri-urban residents and groups across the field sites is underway to ensure they are kept informed and aware of the management taking place and why. 

The team has begun to assess the animal welfare outcomes of ground shooting of rusa deer in peri-urban Wollongong. At the time of writing, we have assessed outcomes for 35 deer. They will continue to assess animal welfare outcomes until we have a sample size of at least 100 deer.  


  • Harriott L, Speed J, Kelly C, Michaelian T and Gentle M (2021) Managing peri-urban wild dogs with canid pest ejectors Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, (Conference abstract).
  • Comte S, Dawson M, Gibbins D, Bengsen A, Pople A, Signorelli C and Forsyth DM (2021) ‘Managing a peri-urban rusa deer population in south eastern Australia’, Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, (Conference abstract).
  • Amos M, Brennan M, Pople T, Bengsen A, Cathcart T, Kimber M, Wojtala J, Manners B, Franks D, Doman J, Sheil D, Jones R, Childs L, Mitchell D and Wyland J (2021) ‘Broadscale monitoring of feral deer population trends and control effort in Queensland peri-urban environs’, Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference, (Conference abstract).
  • Comte, S., Dawson, M., Gibbins, D., Wentworth, S., Bengsen, A., Pople, A., Signorelli, C., and Forsyth, D. M. (2020) Managing a peri-urban rusa deer population in south-eastern Australia – Australasian Wildlife Management Society conference proceedings (Conference abstract currently unavailable).
  • Forsyth D, Bengsen A and Ladd R (2018) Monitoring fallow deer populations in NSW using helicopter line-transect sampling 2018 NSW Vertebrate Pest Management Symposium Program and Abstract Book, Coffs Harbour, 30. (Conference abstract currently unavailable).

Scientific publications:

  • Amos M, Pople A, Brennan M, Sheil D, Kimber M and Cathcart A (in press) ‘Home ranges of rusa deer (Cervus timorensis) in a subtropical peri-urban environment in South East Queensland’, Australian Mammalogy
  • Gentle M, Allen BL, Oakey J, Speed J, Harriott L, Loader J, Robbins A, Villiers D and Hanger J (2019a) ‘Genetic sampling identifies canid predators of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in peri-urban areas’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 190:103591,
  • Gentle M, Allen BL, Oakey J, Speed J, Harriott L, Loader J, Robbins A, Villiers D and Hanger J (2019b) ‘State-wide prioritisation of vertebrate pest animals in Queensland’, Landscape and Urban Planning, 190:103591,
  • Hampton JO, MacKenzie DI and Forsyth DM (2022) ‘Animal welfare outcomes of professional vehicle-based shooting of peri-urban rusa deer in Australia’, Wildlife Research,
  • Harriott L, Allen BL and Gentle M ‘The effect of device density on encounters by a mobile urban carnivore: Implications for managing peri-urban wild dogs’, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, (submitted).
  • Harriott L, Amos M, Brennan M, Elsworth P, Gentle M, Kennedy M, Pople T, Scanlan J, Speed J and Osunkoya O ‘State-wide prioritisation of vertebrate pest animals in Queensland, Australia’ (2022) Ecological Management and Restoration 23 (2): 209-218.
  • Harriott L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhães R and Cobbold R (2019) ‘Geographical distribution and risk factors for Echinococcus granulosus infection in peri-urban wild dog populations’, International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, 10:149–155.
  • Harriott L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhaes R and Cobbold R (2019) ‘The association between diet of peri-urban wild dogs and zoonotic pathogen carriage’, Australian Mammalogy, 41(2):241–249.
  • Harriott, L, Gentle M, Traub R, Soares Magalhaes R and Cobbold R (2019) ‘Zoonotic and economically significant pathogens of peri-urban wild dogs across north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland, Australia’, Wildlife Research, 46(3):212–222.
  • Kelman M, Harriott L, Carrai M, Kwan E, Ward M and Barrs V (2020) ‘Phylogenetic and geospatial evidence of canine parvovirus transmission between wild dogs and domestic dogs at the urban fringe in’, Australia Viruses, 12(6):663,
  • Massetti L, Colella V, Zendejas P, Ng-Nguyen D, Harriott L, Marwedel L, Wiethoelter A and Traub R (2020) ‘High-throughput multiplex qPCRs for the surveillance of zoonotic species of canine hookworms’, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 14(6):0008392,