Peninsula Devil Conservation Project
The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’s Peninsula Devil Conservation Project (previously known as the Tasman Isolation Project) is working to secure a DFTD-free population of devils on the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas in south-east Tasmania.
The Forestier Peninsula was depopulated by the Program in 2012 and extensive surveys using infrared cameras and other techniques since then indicate it is very unlikely that devils persist on the Peninsula. The original devil population was heavily infected with DFTD; therefore, if there are no devils left, there is no DFTD either.
The next step in this part of the project is to repopulate the area with healthy devils. Work has started on procurement for air transport of suitable devils from Insurance Population partners to the Forestier Peninsula. The translocation is planned for mid-November 2015.
Meanwhile, detailed design work for intertidal fences at East Bay Neck, Dunalley is progressing with some additional site and depth measurements to be taken to complete this. It is expected that procurement for the build will start soon. The intertidal fences will link with the existing 800 m “devil-deterrent” fence built across East Bay Neck last year and will also link with a road barrier grid to be built on the Arthur Highway.
Following close liaison with Transport Infrastructure Services at the Department of State Growth (DSG), the Arthur Highway road barrier conceptual design is now complete. The next step will be site survey, detailed design and detailed costings to be developed prior to procurement for construction.
An infrared camera survey at the end of 2013 indicated that a small population of devils (around 19) resided on the Tasman Peninsula. During 2014 monitoring staff conducted eight trapping surveys on the peninsula; 18 adults and 2 juveniles of the estimated 23 adults and 20 juveniles were trapped (typically on multiple occasions) and on examination exhibited no signs of DFTD. This indicates that the small population of devils on the Tasman Peninsula is likely to be DFTD-free and will provide the nucleus for establishing a larger population.
An infrared camera survey of devils in the Dunalley and Copping area (north of the buffer zone) from August–September 2014 found that devils are widely distributed across the area, albeit at very low density as a result of the DFTD-induced population decline. Nineteen individual devils were identified in 230 km2, including two devils with symptoms indicative of DFTD infection. The Program is currently considering management options to reduce the risk that this diseased devil population poses to establishing a DFTD-free population on the Peninsula.