Deer with antlers in a lightly wooded forest
Wild fallow deer

Deer must go to protect the TWWHA

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​The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is a national wonder that contains globally significant natural and cultural heritage.

Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982, the TWWHA is one of only two places on earth that meets seven out of 10 possible criteria. We have an obligation to protect the TWWHA from threats such as pests and diseases.

In May 2023, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas) undertook the first of two eradication and control efforts of wild fallow deer in the TWWHA, specifically in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and part of the Central Plateau Conservation Area. This is supported and funded by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments.

Deer are a threat to the natural values of the TWWHA as they erode and damage soils and waterways, trample sensitive plant communities and can substantially modify the ecosystems in which they live. Deer can also be vectors of animal diseases and spread plant pathogens, which is why this program is so important.

Deer numbers estimated in the TWWHA were thought to be between 100 to 300 animals. As part of the eradication effort in May 2023, highly trained officers removed 711 deer in just 21 days.

The success of the program is underpinned by the highest animal welfare standards.

To meet these standards, NRE Tas developed Deer Culling Operational Procedures consistent with National Guidelines and standards in other jurisdictions where aerial culling is required to remove invasive species from the natural environment.  Veterinarian oversight was provided at all times.

While in most cases the first and second shot kills the deer instantly, each deer must be compulsorily shot at least three times in rapid succession as required by the standard operating procedures.  Importantly, zero wounded animals escaped which is a risk where other methods are used.

The independent veterinarian in charge of animal welfare oversight said:

“I am satisfied that every effort was made to ensure the best animal welfare outcomes possible during this operation. The methodology used ensured that the time elapsed from engagement with a particular animal to insensibility was minimised and that no injured deer escaped. In my opinion, high standards of animal welfare were upheld throughout the operation.” 

To build on the success of the first operation, NRE Tas will undertake a second eradication operation in May 2024 and will continue to ensure, as we have in 2023, that animal welfare standards are met. 

We are doing this work to remove an invasive species because we owe it to future generations to leave the TWWHA in a better condition than it would otherwise be if deer continued to spread. 

More information:  ​

Article by Will Joscelyne, Deputy Secretary PWS

Published 2/08/2023