Update on wukalina/Mount William Wild Devil Recovery
from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program!
thought it was time to get back in touch to update you about our latest Wild
Devil Recovery translocation to beautiful wukalina/Mount William in Tasmania's
far north-east and the news is inspiring.
Wild Devil Recovery Project is a trial to look at release techniques,
vaccination efficacy to boost devil immunity to DFTD and introduce genetic
diversity to incumbent wild Tasmanian devil populations. The WDR is
looking at whether vaccination can successfully provide an immunity boost to
devils against DFTD while studying the impacts on resident devil populations.
the end of May this year, we released 33 devils into the wild over a two-week
period. This follows on from the release of 33 devils at Stony Head in the
north of the state in 2016 and20 devils at Narawntapu National Park in
September 2015. Now several months after the wukalina release, we can
report there have been no reported roadkill of any of the released animals- a
phenomenal result and one that would not have been possible without the support
of the local community and our partners.
staff recently completed three-months of monitoring the released devils at
wukalina/Mount William and have numerous highlights including:
that the use of adaptive management mitigation can reduce the number of
released devils being killed on nearby roads post release:
from previous releases had found captive devils are particularly vulnerable in
the first few weeks post release. As a result, for this translocation, we only
released devils that were born on Maria Island. Other mitigation measures
included: positioning feed stations at different locations on the release site
to ease the devils' transition into an unfamiliar environment and
reducing the need to disperse; working closely with the Department of State
Growth, local councils and Stornoway to erect road signage on the main
roads and local roads reminding people to slow down and be aware of
wildlife; installing virtual fences on local roads at possible roadkill
hotspots; and putting GPS collars on some release devils (which have reflective
tape on to help motorists see them at night) to help monitor their movements.
by Leatherjacket; an unpredicted event that could cause local extinction
term exposure of devil populations to DFTD results in a reduction in numbers by
around 80 percent. These small devil populations become isolated, genetic
diversity decreases and the population becomes vulnerable to unprepared events.
These are often unpredictable. A graphic example occurred on the east coast and
Maria Island. Twenty (20) percent of the devils caught to be translocated to
wukalina had leatherjacket barbs firmly imbedded in their mouths. These would
only have come out after substantial decay around the barbed spines. They were
removed with surgical pliers. The leatherjackets had washed ashore after a mass
mortality event associated with ocean currents. The devils ate them. Untreated,
the wounding could have caused infection and killed devils. A classic example
of an event that was unpredicted and could cause local depletion and extinction.
out just how far devils can travel:
collar readings provided a fascinating insight into the dispersal range of some
of the animals released at wukalina. The collar readings from one male devil
found he had been racking up the km's travelling far and wide across the
landscape and had in fact travelled just under 700km in two months! He had put
on weight, probably as muscle with all that running.
visit to wukalina by Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Kate Warner AM:
part of her tour of the Dorset municipality, Her Excellency The Governor, Mr
Warner and Dorset Mayor Greg Howard were given a tour of devil release area by
Doozie where they were briefed about the work of the STDP and the WDR project
as well as being shown a virtual fence site and a Tasmanian devil maternity
are busy wrapping up in the north-east and want to offer a massive thanks to
PWS for the use of their PWS ranger house as our base throughout the
wukalina/Mount William translocation and post-release monitoring. Many thanks
also to land managers and local community members in the area for all their
support and assistance before, during and after the release.
quick update about recent monitoring at Stony Head.
trapping at Stony Head has found that the three translocated devils released
into the area in 2016 with small tumours are faring well. Over seven nights of
trapping in September the team caught 31 animals - 27 devils and four quolls!
Five of the devils caught were animals released at Stony Head as part of the
WDR translocation in August 2016 and three were the animals with tumours
trapped in July. The good news is that all three were in good condition.
The two males had put on weight and the female had denned her pouched young. The
other two release devils were also healthy, had put on weight and showed no
sign of DFTD. It is with relief that the team reports that there were no
welfare concerns for any of the devils caught during the trapping period.
Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and Menzies Institute for Medical Research has
worked incredibly hard to maximise the success of the Wild Devil Recovery
Project and a great deal has been learnt from each of the releases. The STDP
also continues to work closely with other partners such as the University of
Sydney, the University of Cambridge, Macquarie University, the Zoological and
Aquarium Association of Australasia and its associated wildlife parks, the Save
the Tasmanian Devil Appeal and San Diego Zoo Global.
forward, STDP staff will collate the findings from the WDR trials. The vaccine
trials as part of WDR will continue, as a successful vaccine is useful for the
management of the Tasmanian devil population. The findings from the WDR trials
will be incorporated into a summary of ‘best practice' in how to return devils
to the wild. This methodology will then be incorporated into further
translocations, with the next trial planned to be from Maria Island to Buckland
in May 2018. This will be a straight-forward translocation with bait
stations and camera monitoring of the released devils, and it will be timed so
that the Annual Monitoring trapping trip at the site can double up as a
monitoring trip of the released devils.
staff from the STDP have been busy this week translocating devils from the
Freycinet FRE to Maria Island. A total of eight devils have been transported to
the Freycinet FRE over recent weeks from captive facilities at Monarto,
Devils@Cradle, Healesville and Cressy. The animals were health-checked and weighed
and then transported by ferry across the island and released into their new
homes later that evening. The operation went smoothly and thanks to everyone
involved for helping to make this translocation a success. The eight
female devils are being released onto the island to expand and improve the
genetic diversity on the island.
is a selection of images from life out in the field. Remember, you can keep up
to date by visiting our Facebook page www.facebook.com/SavetheTasmanianDevilProgram