An Australian man has been killed and his wife critically injured after their pet deer attacked them at their home.

The animal – a cross between a red deer and an elk – targeted the couple on Wednesday morning at their property in Moyhu, a rural town in the state of Victoria about 155 miles northeast of Melbourne.

Police said the 46-year-old man, named as Paul McDonald, was attacked after entering its enclosure, and the woman, named as Mandi McDonald, was also set upon when she went in after hearing a commotion.

Officers were called to the property and shot the deer before a paramedic treated the couple, but Mr McDonald was pronounced dead at the scene.

His wife was airlifted to Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, where her condition remains critical.

She is being treated for upper body and leg injuries.

Police sergeant Paul Pursell said the couple had kept the deer for two years.

The family is just devastated, he added.

It’s beyond words how they’ve been affected by this incident today.

He said officers would prepare a report for the coroner.

Deer attacks are almost unheard of in Australia, but Mr Pursell said the animals’ behaviour could be unpredictable.

David Voss, president of hunting and management organisation the Australian Deer Association, said farmed deer tend to be more aggressive than wild deer, but he had only heard of attacks very occasionally.

The animals are not native to the country, having been introduced by British settlers in the 19th century and since then have gone on to establish a large wild population.

Last week, 75-year-old Marvin Hajos was attacked and killed by his pet cassowary bird after falling over in front of it.

(c) Sky News 2019: Pet deer kills man and critically injures his wife at their home in Australia