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Issue #1628      February 26, 2014

Save the Devil

My son and I were in Tasmania recently, to visit my family. On our last day (Saturday February, 1) before returning to Melbourne, we decided to drive up the East Coast to Coles Bay and bushwalk into Wineglass Bay, before driving on to Devonport. So we packed up and left early in the morning from my parent’s home on the southeast coast. It was a warm, sunny day, with little traffic on the road as we drove north.

Between the towns of Sorell and Buckland, we saw a dead Tasmanian Devil beside the verge of the road. This Devil had obviously been a roadkill from the night before by the look of the body. It was very sad to find a fairly young dead Devil, but this male Devil also had no Devil Facial Tumour Disease, which was even more distressing. The unfortunate loss of such a healthy individual is dreadful and tragic news for the endangered species, which is already suffering a drastic decline in numbers from this disease.

The Tasmanian Devil population has already decreased by more than 70 percent due to the spread of the contagious Devil Facial Tumour Disease among Devils. The disease has spread throughout most of the state, except for the West Coast region and some other areas.

While the threatened species struggles to survive this cancer, its plight is further worsened by the deaths of Devils killed on the roads. To help save the endangered Tasmanian Devil it is vitally important to reduce the roadkill of Devils. Drivers can lessen the chances of hitting Devils and other wildlife by being very alert, watchful and driving slowly (especially between dusk and dawn) in wild and rural areas where Devils and other native animals live.

One indication from this death is that it at least shows that there are still some healthy populations of unaffected Devils in a few other parts of the Tasmanian bush, as well as on the West Coast. We left the body where it was in case someone from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife passed by, as it was clearly visible from the road. We reported our sighting to the Tasmanian National Parks office when we got to Coles Bay.

Also, on our previous trip to Tasmania, the year before, we saw two healthy young Devils in daylight, one in the southern Tarkine on the West Coast as it walked alongside the road for some distance and one other that run across the road between Dunalley and Murdunna on the Forestier Peninsula in southeast Tasmania.

The chances for the survival of this remarkable creature in the wild are greatly increased if enough people are aware, care and play an active role in helping ensure the preservation of the Tasmanian Devil. Let’s do what we can to assist efforts to reduce the roadkill of Devils and support those working hard to save them. This will make a real difference to preventing the extinction of the unique Tasmanian Devil in the wild.

Next article – Protect Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary

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