As part of the State Government’s Flood Recovery response, the EPA Division of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) is coordinating the removal and disposal of dead livestock to assist impacted landowners.
The Department estimates that over 1,000 head of livestock may have been lost from Tasmanian farms, washed down waterways onto public or private land, or out to sea. The Mersey, Derwent and Arthur River catchments have been most impacted, with numerous livestock carcasses found since flood waters receded. Many dead animals have turned up downstream on neighbouring properties, on banks and in log jams along particular stretches of rivers, and on the State’s northern coastline.
A Carcass Recovery hotline was set up in the early days following the June floods, and information on the location and number of carcasses was collected from people (affected property owners) requesting assistance. This data, along with other risk factors pertaining to each case (such as the potential impact of the carcasses as well as access, health and safety issues), has been used to assess the level of priority and coordinate the on-ground response.
Prior logistical planning was also required by the EPA Division in order to work out the processes involved in coordinating the recovery. These included sorting through land ownership issues, identifying and selecting suitable waste disposal contractors, managing safety requirements and engaging the contracted services. Case Managers from the EPA Division have been assigned to liaise directly with landholders and waste disposal contractors on site in order to decide on the most appropriate strategies for the collection, removal and disposal of carcasses.
Notifications of livestock carcasses requiring removal have been received from properties near Ouse, Ulverstone, Merseylea, Beulah, Longford, Latrobe, Devonport and Scamander. Case managers for the North, North West and South have been assigned, waste disposal contractors engaged, and onsite visits conducted over the past week.
To date, 37 cases have been logged via the Carcass Recovery hotline with over 190 dead livestock identified and approximately 150 carcasses recovered. A number of the identified livestock have been removed by Councils and other agencies involved in the recovery operation, and many property owners have dealt with small numbers of accessible dead livestock.
Some situations however, where dead livestock have been caught in log jams and other difficult to access sites, have required specific response options. While on-site burning of carcasses is preferred, there may be options to bury carcasses or remove them to an approved landfill site.
The EPA Division is part of the larger agency response, and is actively engaged with the three Regional Emergency Management Committees, the Government’s Flood Recovery Taskforce, other agencies, and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. Being mindful of the loss to farmers, the agency is working hard to progress the safe removal and disposal of livestock carcasses where landowners have indicated their need for assistance.
People can help by providing information about dead livestock directly to the Carcass Recovery mobile number on 0418 583 373 and/or passing this number on to affected farmers.