Sarcophilus harrisii Tasmanian Devil
Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public Comment on the following application for a Scientific Research Permit (Fauna) is open until 6th October
Applicant: University of Tasmania.
Species/Taxon: Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii)
Location: Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area and private land.
Title of research: Tasmanian devil video collaring.
Aim of project: The overall aim of this research is to understand the relationship between female devils and their young, as the nature of maternal investment in care-giving of young devils is poorly understood. Female devils give birth between March and April and young are carried in the pouch for about 4 months. After this period, the young are left in a den until they are fully weaned, usually December to February. Recent technological advancements, enabling devices to be made smaller, have now given us the opportunity to combine GPS and video collars. By incorporating GPS receivers into our video collars, we will be able to determine the exact location of foraging events, interactions, and dens.
Justification: Very little is known about what happens during the denning period and the video-GPS collars will provide a unique opportunity to determine what goes on where. The female devil must leave the den each night to look for food but we don’t know how long she stays away from the den or if young accompany their mother on foraging trips. The video-GPS collar will reveal where she goes and if certain areas are targeted for foraging. We will also be able to determine the exact location of maternal dens, and collect valuable den information to aid management. Devils in diseased areas have decreased life expectancy due to Devil facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), with female devils having just one opportunity to breed. Therefore, using cameras to understand the mother-infant relationship will address a specific gap in knowledge, which is an important component of the conservation strategy for wild devils.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: We estimate that we will trap 50 individual devils per year but only 15 individuals will be fitted with a collar per year. We estimate that we will catch 15 individual spotted-tailed quolls and 3 feral cats per year.
Activities undertaken and methods:
As we are interested in females with young in a den trapping and collaring will only take place between September and December each year. Each year a maximum of 15 individual devils will be fitted with a collar. Only adult healthy (No DFTD) female devils with a weight of ≥6.5kg with will be fitted with a collar for a maximum of 7 nights.
Fate of animals: All animals will be released at the point of capture except for feral cats, which will be euthanised.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): There is no anticipated impact on trapped devils and quolls with all individuals being released back into the wild at the point of capture. Feral cats will be humanly euthanised.