Alexander Hill was in a work meeting when his phone began to light up with messages and calls. It was his children, frantic.
A huge deer had crashed through the front window of their Alphington home and there was “blood everywhere”. Worst still, the stag was trapped inside with the two freaked out children.
“It was a freak occurrence,” Hill told The Age. “We don’t really see that many deer in this area and I thought it was going to be more Bambi and less large stag, but it was a fairly big animal,” he said.
One of the children, who is on school holidays, was heading downstairs on Thursday afternoon when he heard a loud bang and saw the deer. He rushed back upstairs to alert his sister.
Hill said the stag crashed into the home, about seven kilometres north-east of the CBD, after being startled by its own reflection.
“We have reflective windows, so when it saw itself it thought it was threatening, and it went right through the glass,” he said.
Initially suspecting a tall tale, Hill made a quick call to the neighbours who confirmed it. A deer was indeed in the house.
When Hill arrived home, vets were trying to figure out how to get the beast out of the house.
“The ranger that was there didn’t have any tranquillising darts,” he said. “Everyone was talking about how to get it out, it could make a mess, and it would be hard to carry out.”
Vets from non-profit group Vets for Compassion were also there to assist. One of their volunteers carefully opened the front door – and the animal ran free, ending the two-hour ordeal.
“We were all relieved [as] there was a high chance it could be euthanised if it was tranquillised,” said Hill said. “We didn’t want that to happen.”
It was last seen “bounding off over the fence and down to the Yarra River.”
There was only minor damage to the home and the window has been boarded up.
“I just had to clean up some glass and there are a couple of holes in the plaster,” Hill said. “Surprisingly, I had to clean up a lot of hair.”
It’s not the first time a deer has turned heads in the inner-suburbs.
The animals have been seen in Ivanhoe and Kew. In June 2021, startled residents in the Fitzroy-Collingwood area watched as a wild deer ran down Johnston Street.
Vets for Compassion wildlife rescuer Jacob Watt said the organisation also assisted police and other emergency services with animal rescues during natural disasters, including bushfires and floods.
“We make sure animals get out alive and provide the best outcome for everyone involved,” Watt said.
The state government estimates there may be 1 million deer roaming Victoria, causing extensive damage to the natural environment, waterways, farms and private property.
Most deer in Victoria are sambar. Stags can stand up to 130 centimetres at the shoulder and weigh more than 300 kilograms, according to the Australian Deer Association.
The government’s control plan says deer are a growing concern in densely populated areas, appearing in backyards, schools and other public places.
“Deer may charge or kick people if they feel threatened,” the plan said. “Given their size, they can cause significant and even fatal injuries, particularly associated with vehicle collisions.”
With Benjamin Preiss
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.