Rusa deer: animal pest alert

Page last updated: Thursday, 8 February 2024 - 11:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

This animal pest alert provides information on the identification, biology, and pest potential of the rusa deer in Western Australia.

Photo courtesy of Michael Brennan, Biosecurity Queensland

Rusa deer (Cervus timorensis) are a declared pest in Western Australia and are prohibited under the BAM Act. They:

  • damage native plants and crops
  • foul waterways and wetlands
  • compete with livestock and native fauna
  • cause motor vehicle accidents
  • are likely to spread dieback (Phytophthora)
  • transmit livestock diseases like Trypanasoma evansi which is fatal to dogs, cats and horses
  • carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans such as leptospirosis and bovine tuberculosis.
Male stag Rusa female doe

What to look for

Scrapes, preaching trees and ringbarking

Feral deer rub against the bark of trees or thrash in vegetation to remove dried velvet from their antlers. This can kill trees.


Stags create muddy pools (or wallows) by rolling around in a damp or wet patch of earth, covering themselves in mud.

Wallowing marks their scent and attracts females, but also fouls waterways impacting plant growth and seedling establishment. Wallowing can spread diseases into fresh flowing streams and rivers.


Deer tracks are like feral pig tracks but longer and narrower.

Deer tracks

About rusa deer


  • Chin, throat and underparts are cream.
  • Tail is long and brown.
  • Summer coat is red-brown, thickening and turning grey in winter.
  • Stags have lyre-shaped, 3 pointed antlers. The rear tine of the antler is the longest of the 3.


  • Rusa deer are herbivores and graze a wide range of grasses, shrubs and trees.
  • Stags live alone or in all-male groups outside the breeding season (June to August).


  • Stags decorate their antlers with twigs and grass between June and August.
  • Fawns are born between March and April each year.


  • Currently, the only known location of rusa deer in WA is in the Shire of Harvey.
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