Disposal of Animal Carcasses

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Disposal of livestock and other animal carcasses

Livestock and other animal carcasses left above ground may pose health, biosecurity and environmental risks, and Biosecurity Tasmania recommends that burial be undertaken as soon as practicable, and at the most appropriate site available.

The unhygienic management of an animal carcass is illegal, and is considered a prohibited dealing under sections 17 and 76 of the Biosecurity Act 2019, and regulation 12 of the Biosecurity Regulations 2022.

The unhygienic management of an animal carcass includes:​

  • allowing “the carcass, or part of the carcass, to remain exposed to the environment or other an​imals on the premises without being buried, incinerated or otherwise disposed of in a suitably hygienic manner”; and 
  • failing to ensure that “the carcass is buried, incinerated or otherwise disposed of in a suitably hygienic manner as soon as reasonably practicable after he or she discovers or becomes aware of the presence of the carcass on the premises”

Animal carcasses must be managed in a hygienic way. These requirements apply to livestock producers (for small numbers of livestock or individual animals), hunters, and in the case of larger mortality events on farms (eg., emergencies such as bushfires).

For small numbers of livestock or individual animals

It is important to ensure the burial of animal carcasses be undertaken:

  • In a reasonable timeframe after discovery of the carcass;

  • In a manner that prevents access by dogs and other animals;

  • To prevent the transmission of a number of animal diseases such as Hydatids, Sarcoc​​​ystis and Botulism.

Game hunting requirements

In addition to livestock and other animals on agricultural properties, it is also important for hunters to ensure they meet the game hunting requirements and collection of spec​​ies of game they shoot. This must be carried out to ensure that hunters can:

  • Check for signs of humane killing/death;

  • Work with the property owners to ensure animal carcasses are disposed of in a hygienic way.

Emergency burial of carcasses

The following guidance is provided for the emergency burial of carcasses resulting from a bushfire or other emergency event:

  • Carcasses left above ground may pose health, biosecurity and environmental risks and so rapid burial is recommended at the most appropriate site available.

  • Carcasses burial must only occur with consent of the landowner. Records should be kept by the landowner of all burial pit locations and the quantity of material that has been buried at each location.

  • Please give careful consideration to the location of the burial pits to prevent any contamination of surface or ground waters and subsequent risk to human and animal health and to the environment.

  • Burial sites must not contain more than 20 tonnes of carcasses in a single pit as there is a risk of generating large quantities of leachate.

  • Ideal sites for carcass burial will have the following characteristics:
    - Deep clay textured soils
    - Ground water table separation distance from the bottom of the pit of at least 2 metres
    - Slope less than 10%

  • A location that complies with the following buffer distances (try to comply with these buffer distances if it at all possible):​
    Watercourse and dams - 100m
    Residence and sensitive areas 1000m
    Property boundary 20m
    Drinking water bore 250m

  • Sawdust can be added to the bottom of pits to reduce risk of leachate generation.

  • It is not recommended that lime be added to pits unless there is a biosecurity reason for doing so as this will reduce the decomposition rate of the carcasses.

  • Surface drainage should be directed away from the pit location by setting up diversion drains up slope of the pit location.

  • When full the pit must be covered with a minimum of 1m depth of soil. The soil should be mounded over the pit to prevent rain collecting in the pit. The pit cover will subside as the carcasses break down.

Further information

Local Gove​rnment (Council) Links - Contact your local council for any requirements on carcass disposal specific to your area.