Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area - Deer Control Project

05 April 2024

In accordance with the Australian Heritage Grant, the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is planning to undertake the second and final eradication and control of wild fallow deer in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park (WoJNP) and adjacent bordering areas of the Central Plateau Conservation Area (CPCA).

The PWS wishes to inform stakeholders of the project and outline the project activities that will be in place for the next project operational period. Project activities will include the carriage and discharge of firearms onto the land and the project area will be closed to all users for the operational period.

For the period from midnight Sunday 28th April 2024 to midnight Sunday 2nd June 2024 all the WoJNP and the adjoining CPCA west of Highland Lakes Road and north of Marlborough Rd will be closed to all users (see Figure 1: Deer Control Closure Area). All other areas of CPCA will remain open.


PWS applied for and was successful in acquiring a $400,000.00 Australian Heritage Grant from the Australian Government to survey for and eradicate wild fallow deer from the WoJNP and surrounding reserves using thermal technology (referred to as the TWWHA Deer Control Project).

The project goal is to eradicate wild fallow deer from within the WoJNP and reduce numbers of wild fallow deer within the CPCA to alleviate migration pressures into the WoJNP.

The project is running over three years with all preparation and planning completed in April 2023. Operational deployments occurred in May 2023 and are scheduled for May 2024
The project is predominantly an aerial shooting program from a helicopter using thermal technology. Shooting only occurs in times of low solar warming (such as first light / last light), usually 4 to 6 hours per day although it can operate all day on heavily clouded days. The benefits of TAAC are:

• animals are identified and targeted more easily, including from distance, therefore allowing for better animal welfare outcomes;
• animals can be tracked through cover reducing the risk of injured animals escaping;
• scattered herds can easily be reacquired;
• non target species can easily be identified; and
• all relevant data is captured allowing for review of animal welfare outcomes.

Operational deployment facts from 2023

• From the period May 3, 2023 to May 23, 2023 711 deer were humanely destroyed within the project area;
• There were zero wounded animal escapes;
• The entire project period was monitored by both Government and independent contracted veterinary officers to assess animal welfare outcomes;
• Veterinary officers were satisfied that all animal welfare outcomes were achieved;
• Pre and post-aerial cull monitoring was completed in April 2023 and July 2023 respectively; and
• The monitoring has determined that the resident deer within the project area have been reduced by up to 93% although this figure does not include deer that will migrate back from nearby areas.
2024 Operational Deployment

The second and final control and eradication effort for the WoJNP and adjacent CPCA is scheduled to commence on April 29, 2024 and conclude June 2, 2024.

Last year’s cull focused on population reduction in what’s known as the high-density area to reduce migration pressures on the WoJNP. This year’s cull will be more focussed on the WoJNP itself with closer transects and increased thermal imaging capability in the aircraft. This will ensure the project has the greatest chance of eradicating wild fallow deer from the WoJNP. Once PWS is satisfied that the WoJNP is free of deer, the cull will continue into the mid and high zones of the CPCA to further reduce migration pressures.

Due to the short daily window available for thermal operations, the project will operate for approximately 20 days each year. It is envisaged that the project area will be closed for the entire month of May in 2024. The plan to close for the entire month of May allows for bad weather and unforeseen issues as well as our animal health obligations around the risk of hydatid infections in domestic dogs. The closure will apply to all reserve users including commercial users and be in accordance with the National Parks and Reserve Management Regulations 2019, Regulation 18 ensuring that officers have appropriate authority to lawfully manage access into the reserves.

Daily checks will be undertaken as part of the project to ensure compliance with closure is achieved and immediate notification and investigation will be undertaken of any breach of compliance. Government entities that have a legitimate need to enter the project area will be permitted to do so under strict guidelines. In addition to aerial shooting, there are plans to undertake limited ground shooting around the Western Lakes where it is safe to do so. This shooting will be undertaken by highly experienced and trained volunteers provided by the Tasmanian branches of the Australian Deer Association and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia. Recreational hunting is not permitted in National Parks and hunting is not an effective method to reduce animal populations at a landscape scale. The volunteer shooters will be undertaking culling activities under PWS supervision and will occur during the same period as the aerial shooting.

In any animal culling operation, positive animal welfare outcomes are always the highest priority. To ensure this goal is achieved, only highly trained and experienced Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE Tas) staff will undertake aerial shooting operations. All shooters (aerial and ground) are required to strictly adhere to detailed operational procedures that guide the activity and ensure animal welfare is prioritised. These procedures have been developed from national procedures for the aerial and ground control of deer with input from other jurisdictions that have successfully undertaken the same activities

Current estimates indicate that there may be between 300 deer remaining within the project area. All deer shot will be left in situ unless it poses a social, health or environmental risk. Carcasses will be removed from watercourses, near reserve and hydro infrastructure (walking tracks, huts, campgrounds) and close to roads and vehicle tracks, all other carcasses will be left to decompose.

At the conclusion of each deployment the University of Tasmania and NRE Tas Conservation Science Section will review the success of the project in relation to the project goals and by the end of this year's deployment develop a monitoring program to assist in detecting remigration of wild fallow deer back into the WoJNP.