Tasmania could face more than a million feral deer without proper management to control population growth.
A new study will investigate both the present and potential distribution of deer across the state and look closely at their impact on sensitive ecological communities such as the World Heritage Area.
University of Tasmania Professor Chris Johnson will lead the study, and said efforts to manage deer numbers in the state were hampered by the lack of knowledge.
“The rate of growth in the state’s fallow deer population is an ongoing concern,” Professor Johnson said.
“The increase that we have seen in numbers has hit a point where we cannot ignore it anymore.
“We have seen a recent increase in numbers and they have spread into the North and North West. They could pose a very serious threat to the State’s unique wilderness areas.”
Conservative estimates put Tasmania’s present deer population at between 20,000 to 40,000.
Professor Johnson said there was particular concern that deer were now close to the edges of Tasmania’s most pristine parks and heritage areas.
UTAS will partner with the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, to conduct the study, with contributions from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tasmanian Land Conservatory Inc, Bush Heritage Australia and the University of Auckland.