Wollongong requires at least double the amount of its existing deer cull funding "just to keep a cap on" the ever-growing pest species which wreak havoc throughout the region's escarpment and urban areas each winter.
That was the message that Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery delivered to Canberra last month which he spoke at a senate inquiry about pest animals.
Wollongong is one of the most deer-affected urban areas in Australia, with car collisions and near misses, erosion in the escarpment and damage to residential property all increasing.
This year, with the problem so bad by May that the pest animals were peering into suburban windows, the city took extra measures to warn people of the dangers they may present and decalred an offical "deer season".
"The deer problem within the Wollongong local government area is gradually increasing despite management efforts which have slowed the rate of growth," Cr Bradbery told federal senators. "The majority of the impact includes public safety, property and environmental destruction and illegal hunting."
He said there were six species of deer prevalent in the peri-urban and conservation lands of the Illawarra escarpment, with the main species affecting Wollongong being the rusa and the sambar.
"The community views deer as feral pests, and they are a significant source of complaints to the council, he said, noting the city received around about 60 formal complaints each year.
The council works with various state government partners on a South East Local Land Services-managed program to employ professional contractors to kill deer. In the last financial year more than 770 deer were culled through the program, to which the council contributes about $100,000 each year.
"Despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the scale of the problem and the cost of operating in the urban environment exceeds the resources available to stakeholders," Cr Bradbery said.
"There is a clear need for additional funding to at least match the level of the Illawarra Wild Deer Management Program partners to take the total program funding to around about $400,000 a year to provide additional culling operations and to ensure the program is sustainable.
"We estimate that that sort of level of funding is required just to keep a cap on the numbers of deer that we are confronting and the challenges that we confront in our local government area."
He said the cull was made difficult in the areas west of Wollongong, as hunters had to access very restricted space - which includes the Sydney water catchment area. Hunting in urban areas also posed a danger to residents, he said.
"You've got very limited possibility for culling in those built-up areas," he said.
"That's the big challenge that we confront. The only way that it can be really dealt with is by culling in the restricted areas, well away from built-up areas, but they're impossible to eradicate at this stage with the resources that we have. Just keeping a lid on it is about the only possibility and that requires around $400,000 a year."
Cr Bradbery also spoke of the issues of unauthorised venison hunters, which he said created issues with people who are unlicensed and unregulated coming into the peri-urban area to hunt.
"That creates serious problems," he said. "It's not just firearms; it's crossbows and things of that nature. There is a bit of a Rambo culture out there as well. They bring their dogs as well."