A BIG cat researcher claims to have filmed the first sambar deer in a coastal location near Golden Beach in Gippsland.
Michael Moss posted his video to YouTube showing a sambar deer and hog deer in a coastal bush strip between Lake Reeve and the beach.
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Mr Moss said he had infra-red cameras in the region on-and-off for a decade and had filmed hog deer but never sambar deer."It surprised me and it might be the first ever sambar deer caught on a trail camera in a coastal area," Mr Moss said.
He speculated damaged habitat after bushfire may have pushed the deer towards the coast from the high country.
Sambar deer are listed as a threat under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.
"This is on the edge of a national park and Parks Victoria has foxes, feral and domestic cats and other pest wandering in and out of the park," Mr Moss said.
Gippsland Deer Stalker Association member Ben Williams, from Mirboo North, said it was "very possible" that sambar deer could have wandered to Golden Beach "given it wasn't far from the high country".
"It's been a very good season, there's a lot of feed in the bush. We went for a walk the other night and saw 30 deer on the evening with grass up to their hips. They don’t have to go far to fill their bellies," Mr Williams said.
He said a coastal area wasn't ideal but sambar deer could live in swamps and deserts and had been found in the Northern Territory recently.
Sambar deer were introduced into Victoria at Mount Sugarloaf in the 1860s and at Harewood Estate near Tooradin and spread in to the high country.