While the use of 1080 poison for control of native browsing animals reached a historic low in the financial year ending 30 June 2012 (just 0.42kg statewide), it has spiked since then, rising to 0.588kg for the period 1 July to 30 November 2012. Minister Brian Wightman is committed to ‘reducing the level of 1080 use in line with’ the Tasmania Together target of zero 1080 use by 2015. The TCT will continue to push for 1080 use to be reduced in order to reach this goal. Note: although the Tasmania Together board has been abandoned for cost-cutting reasons, the Premier has committed to retaining the TT targets.
To commemorate Threatened Species Day on 7 September this year, Roadkilltas.com (the website that provides tools to help drivers in Tasmania make their journeys wildlife friendly) and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust launched a Metro bus-back advertising campaign to get the message to Hobart’s drivers regarding slowing down to save wildlife.
Wombats with mange in Tasmania has been an ongoing problem for a very long time. In fact, at a meeting in June 2011 with the Wildlife Management Branch from the DPIPWE we were informed that there has been a ‘huge problem’ of mange on Flinders Island and that ‘it has been a problem for the past 20 years’. Other areas reported to have wombats with mange are, north-east Tasmania and north-west Tasmania, Primrose Sands, Copping, Bothwell, Central Highlands, Jericho, Colebrook, Narawntapu National Park and a recent report from Lake St Clair as well as Ben Lomond.
Tasmania’s current approach to managing the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals is largely based on out-of-date codes of practice from 2000 (aerial spraying) and 2001 (ground spraying) that rely on voluntary industry compliance with virtually no possibility of prosecutions for contraventions. The state government initiated a review of agricultural and veterinary chemicals management in 2008 and there were public consultation processes in April 2008 and in May 2011.
Tasmania’s ecology is now unstable – feral cats, disease in wildlife populations, climate change and habitat loss are progressively reducing the island’s biodiversity. In 1996 the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement documents cited research describing the Tasmanian devil population as overabundant and estimated its size at between 130,000 and 170,000 animals (an astonishing number of devils, amplified by the tens of thousands of 1080-poisoned marsupial bodies left in the bush and around farm edges).
Against Animal Cruelty Tasmania (AACT) and the Tasmanian Conservation Trust (TCT) are leading the attack on the recreational killing of Short-tailed Shearwaters. AACT and the TCT are supported by Wildlife Tasmania in opposing this annual massacre of wildlife in Tasmania.
The Alternatives to 1080 Program has now ceased and, without a decision by the Australian and State governments to provide additional funding, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE) will only be able to maintain a low-level program. Landowners are reporting high losses from browsing animals but the State and Australian governments have basically left them to deal with this issue alone. DPIPWE will be able to provide advice via the telephone and distribute copies of documents produced by the Alternatives to 1080 Program, but expect the calls for easier access to 1080 poison to become louder, particularly from the farming community.
Largely due to the efforts of the Derwent Estuary Program Little Penguin Program hosted by the Tasmanian Conservation Trust over the past five years, the numbers of little penguins in the Derwent estuary have steadily increased. Monitoring has revealed that breeding pairs now number around 180, while five years ago there were 98 pairs.
As a new face to Tasmania I am excited about heading up the TCT Wildlife Campaign and working towards improved native wildlife management and standards across the state. Although I am new to Tasmania, I am not new to wildlife policy and management, having worked for a number of government and private organisations including zoos, conservation groups and government wildlife agencies.