Tasmania Police collaborate with the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program
Motorists in the state’s north-east are reminded to be aware of the risk of animals on the road when driving, especially from dusk until dawn.
The reminder comes as Tasmania Police and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) join forces to give the Tasmanian devil the best post-release chance of survival in the wild.
A small number of wild devils are currently being translocated from Maria Island to the wukalina/Mount William area in the state’s north to live with the existing population of devils.
Dr Samantha Fox from the STDP says learnings from previous Wild Devil Recovery trials at Stony Head and Narawntapu National Park indicate the initial period of time straight after a release is crucial.
“We know that the first two to four weeks after release are a particularly vulnerable time for the devils while they are dispersing away from the release site,” Dr. Fox said.
As a key part of planning, the STDP is working with Tasmania Police on implementing roadkill mitigation measures.
Inspector Michael Johnston said that Tasmania Police would continue to have a strong presence on rural roads as part of their ongoing rural road safety strategy.
“With roadkill the second biggest threat to devil survival, motorists are urged to be vigilant for the potential of devils on the roadway in the areas of wukalina/Mount William, Ansons Bay, Blue Tier, Gladstone, and as far as Cape Portland,” Inspector Johnston said.
“We remind people that they can contact Police on 131 444 if they wish to report any incidents or have any information about poor driving behaviour.”
More than 30 devils are being released into the wukalina/Mount William area. They have been vaccinated and the majority will wear GPS satellite-linked collars for a few months’ post release to help scientists track, map and monitor their movements in the wild. The collars will have reflective tape on to help motorists see them at night.
Dr. Fox said the STDP has taken a number of steps to try to mitigate the risk of roadkill for this release to the wukalina/Mount William area.
These mitigation measures include:
- Placing bait stations near the release area to try and keep devils close to the release site;
- Working closely with Department of State Growth, Stornoway and the Break O’Day and Dorset councils to identify locations and install road signage asking people to slow down and be aware of wildlife;
- Installing virtual fence devices at roadkill ‘hotspot’ locations (virtual fencing is an active electronic protection system that warns animals that a vehicle is coming);
- Trialling aversion therapy on the devils prior to release to try to scare them away from the sound of a vehicle;
- Working with relevant authorities to ensure the swift removal of roadkill animals from roads;
- Using wild born devils from Maria Island for the translocation;
- Working closely with local communities including distributing brochures about the release and asking the public to watch out for devils;
- Attaching reflective tape on the GPS collars of released devils; and
- Applying bleach marks to the released devils to make them more visible.