Brisbane Urban Myth: Link Between a Pullenvale Couple’s Divorce & Feral Deer Revealed

Have you ever wondered why there are feral deer regularly seen in Pullenvale or Jindalee, or causing a commotion on the Centenary Highway? For years, a popular urban legend has been circulating that a Pullenvale couple’s divorce has led to the growth of the feral deer population in the western suburbs.

The story goes that the couple once owned a large deer farm in Pullenvale that had a deliberate mishap, causing the animals to run around or cross the residential population. Following a messy divorce, locals said that the wife of the deer farmer apparently opened the gates to let the animals escape. 

The number of deer that got out could not be accounted for but locals who have had deer sightings, particularly in the western suburbs, believe these animals are either from the herd or the descendants of the herd from the Pullenvale farm.

It might be one of those absurd stories but this Brisbane urban myth has been confirmed by the Pullenvale deer farm owner himself. Farmer John, who now lives in Cairns, confirmed in a radio interview B105 Brisbane that he did own more than 500 deer, which escaped as a result of his marital woes.

Brisbane Urban Myth
Photo Credit: smarko/Pixabay

However, the farmer clarified that it was his mother-in-law who opened the gates to his deer farm and not his ex-wife. 

“She was angry. My mother-in-law released the deer,” he told Stav, Abby and Matt, the hosts of the program.  

John also said that the deer usually come back and find their way home but he thinks he lost about 130 from this incident. He can no longer recall the year this happened. 

According to Council, there are three types of feral deer, or those not kept in enclosures, commonly found in Brisbane. Brought to Queensland around the 1870s, some of their species could be aggressive and destructive as they may:

  • damaging native vegetation through browsing and trampling and ringbarking
  • competing with native wildlife for resources and habitat
  • reducing water quality to creeks, wetlands and river systems through over grazing and trampling
  • damaging residential gardens and fences
  • creating a traffic hazard on roads
  • attracting illegal hunting
  • transmitting diseases and parasites to humans, domestic animals and wildlife
  • aggressive behaviour (from stags) towards domestic animals, including horses, during breeding season

Council usually sets aside a fund for the management of feral deers every financial year but there was a time when their presence in the residential areas used to be bothersome. Various bushcare groups have also set up protectors around trees to prevent the deers from destroying the bark. 

However, it’s still best to report deer sightings at 07 3403 8888 or through the online form for prevention and control. 

Brookfield Tests Virtual Fence To Keep Feral Deer Away From Roads

A virtual fence has been installed on Rafting Ground Road in Brookfield as part of a trial to prevent feral deer from crossing the road, and hopefully to deter accidents.

The Brisbane City Council is exerting all efforts to minimise feral deer in the city. Over the years, a distinct growth of feral deer sightings has been reported to the council, most notably in the western side. Should the trial of the virtual fence be successful, it will then be rolled out to various areas in the city.

Deer crossing roads have caused a number of traffic accidents and other problems such as:

  • damage to native vegetation
  • reduction of water quality to several bodies of water
  • damage to residential properties
  • attracting illegal hunting
  • transmitting diseases to humans and animals
  • aggressive behaviour

Virtual Fence Trial

The virtual fence trial started in March 2018 and is part of the council’s $1-million budget for pest animal management.

Rafting Ground Road was chosen because of the low-light environment, which enhances the effectiveness of the technology. The road is also a known to be a major deer-crossing point.

Cr David McLachlan said that this particular wildlife solution is unique and effective.

“Deer can cause serious traffic hazards and council is now monitoring the ability of a virtual fence along Rafting Ground Road to keep deer off our roads,” Cr McLachlan said.

“Brisbane is home to more than 400 feral deer, which are classed as a pest under both State and Council legislation because of the environmental, economic and social threats they pose.

“Since July 2016, Council has received nearly around 140 reports of feral deer sightings in the city’s western suburbs, and has captured around 180 pest deer in the same period.”

The virtual fence will emit a high-pitched solar signal as vehicles approach, thus keeping the deer from getting on the roads.

The same technology was found to be effective when it was put into trial in Tasmania to protect the Tasmanian devil. The results showed a significant reduction of road-kill.

Help With Feral Deer Management

The council also reminds residents to help reduce the number of feral deer in residential properties and on roads.

  • Do not feed or befriend feral deer
  • Put up proper fencing
  • Deter deer via electronic deterrents, lights, rotary or a motion-activated sprinkler system

Staying Safe On The Road

In order to ensure safety on the road especially in areas where the prevalence of feral deer is known, keep in mind that they travel in groups. If you see one deer crossing it is best to wait for a few minutes as it is most likely that there are more coming.

The council has also released some road guidelines to help you stay safe on the road:

  • Honk at a deer when you see one near the road
  • Flash your headlight to signal to other drivers
  • Practice caution and slow speed during the dawn and dusk
  • Slow down when you see deer signs