Save The Tasmanian Devil Program Releases 33 Devils Into The Wild

Save The Tasmanian Devil Program Releases 33 Devils Into The Wild

Tasmania Minister for Environment Parks and Heritage Matthew Groom

A New Wild Devil Recovery Milestone

Victor P Taffa

The next stage in rebuilding the wild population of Tasmanian devils took place last night with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program releasing 33 healthy and vaccinated devils at Stony Head in the State’s North East, Minister for Environment Parks and Heritage Matthew Groom said.

The devils released at Stony Head follow those released at Narawntapu National Park in September 2015 and on the Forestier Peninsula in November 2015 as part of the Wild Devil Recovery Project.

One of the biggest challenges the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program faces is rebuilding wild devil populations in areas where Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is present. The Wild Devil Recovery Project is looking at whether vaccination can successfully provide an immunity boost to DFTD while studying the impacts on resident devil populations.

Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has worked incredibly hard to maximise the success of the previous releases and a great deal has been learnt that will inform how Stony Head and future releases are managed.

One of these key learnings includes taking greater precautions to reduce the number of released devils being killed on nearby roads. The devils are particularly vulnerable in the first two to four weeks as they disperse away from the release site and transition back to wild living.

Some of the mitigation steps that the Program has put into place for the Stony Head release include:

  • Positioning feed stations at different locations on the site to ease the devils’ transition from captive to wild living and reducing the need to disperse;
  • Working closely with the Department of State Growth and the George Town and Dorset councils to erect road signage on the main Bridport road and local roads reminding people to slow down and be aware of wildlife;
  • Assessing the local roads for possible roadkill hotspots and installing virtual fences in response;
  • A majority of the devils released will wear temporary GPS collars, which have reflective tape on to help motorists see them at night, to help monitor their movements;
  • Tasmania Police will have a strong presence on local roads as part of their ongoing rural road safety strategy and people can contact Police on 131 444 if they wish to report any incidents or have any information about poor driving behaviour;
  • Trialling aversion therapy on the devils prior to release to try to scare them away from the sound of a vehicle;
  • Installing LED trailer mounted active signs on the Bridport road to remind drivers to be aware of wildlife at night;
  • Liaising with local councils about clearing roadkill off roads that could attract devils as they scavenge for food;
  • Distributing information about the Stony Head release to the local community asking the public to be vigilant and to watch out for devils.
TAS Minister for Environment Parks and Heritage Matthew Groom

TAS Minister for Environment Parks and Heritage Matthew Groom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Extensive work has taken place to try and prevent the issue of roadkill and offset the dangers for wildlife. I urge motorists to slow down and take special care while driving between dusk and dawn, especially since devils are very hard to see against a black road surface, particularly when it is wet.” Mr. Groom said.

Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is a joint response by the Federal and Tasmanian Governments to the threat to the Tasmanian devil from DFTD.

Devil releases in Tasmania are critical in the ongoing national effort to secure a future for the species in the wild, in Tasmania, where the Devil belongs.

Minister for Environment Parks and Heritage Matthew Groom acknowledged the strong support from a range of partner organisations including:

  • Menzies Institute for Medical Research,
  • Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal,
  • Devil Island Projects Group,
  • Zoological and Aquarium Association of Australasia and its associated wildlife parks,
  • San Diego Zoo Global,
  • University of Sydney.

“I would also like to thank the Department of Defence, the George Town and Dorset Councils, the Department of State Growth, Tasmania Police, TasFreight and Stornoway for their assistance with the Stony Head release.” Mr. Groom said.