Deer harvesting numbers sharply declined last year amid COVID-19 restrictions on hunting, with concerns the population will rise.
A report from the Game Management Authority shows bushfires at the start of 2020, then lockdown rules, led to a sharp drop in deer being killed.
An estimated 69,914 deer were harvested in 2020, less than half number killed in 2019 and the lowest number since 2014.
Myrtleford was in the top five areas in the state for the number of deers hunted, while Bright was in the top five for total hunting days.
About 2400 deer hunters were surveyed last year to gather information on their activity and the number of deer killed.
Sambar deer were the most common species targeted, with about 50,000 killed.
GMA chief executive Graeme Ford said the decrease in harvest numbers was a result of fewer hunters in the field.
"Restrictions on recreational activity throughout the year has likely led to the significant reduction in hunter activity and the estimated number of deer harvested," he said.
"The report shows that while the number of deer harvested and days spent hunting in the field had reduced substantially, hunter efficiency remained consistent with previous years."
"Information about the number of deer harvested by recreational hunters helps to inform decisions about deer management and the management of hunting on public and private land in Victoria."
Australian Deer Association Executive Officer Barry Howlett it was a significant loss.
Nearly 174,000 deer were killed in 2019.
"There are over 100,000 deer that did not die in Victoria last year because recreational hunters could not get out," he said.
Police regularly run operations to ensure shooters are following firearm and hunting laws.
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Alpine region Senior Sergeant Doug Incoll said hunters helped deer reduce numbers in the region, particularly of Sambar deer.
"The population of deer will increase because shooters and hound hunters assist in reducing numbers," he said.
"They're in people's backyards.
"No doubt a lack of metropolitan shooters in forests will have the adverse effect of increasing deer numbers."
Police target illegal shooting, including spotlighting, and firearms offences, with further operations planned in the North East.
"It's always a small percent of shooters who do the wrong thing," he said.
A North East man was hospitalised this year after being attacked by a deer, and a 2019 pet deer attack at Moyhu killed Paul McDonald and injured his wife Mandi.
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