Biologists have completed the first full-monitoring trip one month after the release of 39 Tasmanian devils onto the Forestier Peninsula. The captive raised devils were released into the Tasmanian landscape on private property near Dunalley in mid-November.
Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Biologist Stewart Huxtable said staff trapped 14 of the release animals during the recent monitoring trip.
"This is an encouraging result and we are satisfied with the number of devils trapped first time round," Stewart said. "The trapping survey also shows that a significant number of the animals have remained close to the release site."
"All but one of the devils trapped are in good health, and some already look leaner and fitter as a result of some wild living. However one devil trapped had to be taken to the vet for surgery on a large wound on his back, he is now recovering well and receiving extra care and attention from our devil keepers at Mt Pleasant, Launceston."
"We have received quite a few reports from the public of devil sightings on the Forestier, which is adding to our knowledge of where the devils are venturing," Stewart said.
"These and other observations show that some of the devils are ranging far and wide across the Forestier exploring their new home before finding somewhere to settle. However we do expect the majority of devils to settle around the release site, in the best habitat, and surveillance cameras at supplementary feed stations certainly suggest that a good number of devils have stuck around and appreciate the extra food we are providing to make their transition to wild living a little easier."
In the first four weeks after the Forestier release, eleven (11) of the newly released devils died from injuries caused from being hit by vehicles. This is an unfortunate reminder of the threats to the devil posed by roadkill and program staff continue to encourage motorists to slow down in areas where wildlife collisions are a risk.
In the north of the state, monitoring of release animals continues at Narawntapu National Park (NNP) where 20 devils were translocated in late September. STDP Team Leader Dr Sam Fox said the team trapped four (4) devils as part of their two-month post-release monitoring update.
"We trapped three devils within the park itself and one male was caught about ten (10) kilometres outside the park area," Sam said. "He had hung around the park for the first month after release but we hadn’t seen any evidence of him in the Park for more than six weeks. Like all the animals trapped this time round, he was healthy and had put on weight. His capture just confirms our opinion that although we may not be seeing signs of half of the devils released, the likelihood is that they have settled nearby but outside the area where we are monitoring"
Cameras and microchip scanners installed within the park continue to detect a number of the released Tasmanian devils and this has shown that some are remaining within the release site and national park area. Due to the dispersal of animals across the landscape, it is not unusual for all animals not to be trapped during monitoring trips.
Four (4) of the release devils were killed by vehicles on the road in the first few weeks post release but there have been no further reports since then.
Monitoring trips will continue to be undertaken by the STDP at regular intervals at both release sites in the New Year and these trips will provide more detail on how the animals are faring.
Establishing Wild Devil Recovery zones is an important part of the Wild Devil Recovery project. This is aimed at ensuring the long-term survival of the species in the wild.