MEDIA RELEASE 26th May 2016
An initiative to stop Tasmanian Devils being killed on roads after being released to the wild to repopulate Tasmania from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program’s insurance population has been stepped up.
It’s estimated that up to four from every 10 devils released end up as road kill victims.
Welfare concerns over Devils from the insurance population and immunisation programme being released to the wild has prompted a new initiative by the Devil Island Project Group (DIPG) which has raised $800,000 to fund two new schemes.
A 3200 metre transportable ‘Devil Island’ free range enclosure to support the release of captive bred devils to the wild.
Two 10 hectare ‘Devil Island’ free range enclosures to support the important work on immune therapy treatment to reduce the risk of devils being infected with Devil Facial Tumour Disease when released to the wild.
It has taken two years of negotiation for the Devil Island Project Group, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment to finalise the financial details. A final tranche of $500,000 from the Commonwealth’s three year $3.3 million investment in support of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program will be added to $300,000 already raised by the DIPG.
The DIPG has already built four ‘Devil Island’ free range enclosures around the state and eight prototype fence sections have been constructed for the transportable fencing scheme.
The scheme is be named the ‘Fiona Hoskin’ Devil Island as DIPG board member Fiona Hoskin authored and produced the ‘Devil of a Cookbook’ which raised $260,000 towards the scheme.
August is the required date for completion of the transportable fence ready for when the next devils are released to the wild at the Stony Head Ranges in the north of Tasmania. Researchers will try various methods of behaviour conditioning including a hard and soft release. With 25% of Devils released at Narawntapu and on the Forestier Peninsular being killed on the road in the first month it is hoped that by allowing the devils to settle in the release site before they go to the wild they will not disperse so quickly and not become roadkill victims.
The two ‘Devil Islands’ for the immunisation therapy treatment are to be built on Crown land at Five Mile Beach near Hobart. This will enable easy access for the researchers from the Menzies Institute. Construction is expected to start in September.
Bruce Englefield CEO and Founder of the DIPG said. “Ten years ago when I started the ‘Devil Island’ project at the height of the Devil cancer disease I could only dream that one day devils would go back to the wild to repopulate a decimated population. These schemes will help to realise that dream in a welfare friendly way”.
The Chair of the DIPG, Kerry Finch, said “The $500,000 funding approved by the Federal Government is a tremendous boost for the DIPG. I believe the transportable ‘Devil Island’ free range enclosure to enable the progressive release of devils bred in captivity is a major part of the solution to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.”