Tasmanian Devil, Spotted-tail Quoll, Eastern Quoll, Brushtail Possum
Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 21st September 2021.
Applicant: Wild immunology research group, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania
Species/Taxon: Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii; spotted tail quoll, Dasyurus maculatus; eastern quoll, Dasyurus viverrinus; brushtail possum, Trichosurus vulpecula
Location: across Tasmania
Title of research: The study of devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), wobbly possum disease and comparative immunology requiring opportunistic sample collection from Tasmanian devils, spotted tail quolls, eastern quolls, and brushtail possums
Aim of project: The aims of our Tasmanian devil immunology research are:
- to develop a vaccine against DFTD
- to develop a preclinical test for DFTD
- to determine the immune mechanism for naturally occurring immune responses against DFTD
- to continue characterising of devil facial tumour microenvironment
- to continue comparing the two types of devil facial tumours, DFT1 and DFT2
The aim of our comparative immunology research is:
- to determine the similarity between three dasyurid species (devils, spotted tail quolls and eastern quolls)
The aim of collecting blood and tissue samples from possums is:
- to assist with the development of a diagnostic blood test for wobbly possum disease
Justification: The primary threat to Tasmanian devils is devil facial tumour disease. A vaccine that protects against DFTD would mitigate this threat. Research advancing the understanding of DFTD and the devils’ immune response to it is essential for successful DFTD vaccine development.
The comparative immunology study between quolls and devils will identify available reagents to analyse the quoll immune system and responses, should a disease or other threat make this a pressing issue.
There has been an apparent increased prevalence of wobbly possum disease in brushtail possums in Tasmania since 2019. It is prudent for researchers in collaboration with government veterinarians and biologists to monitor and investigate this disease.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: 60 individuals per year
Activities undertaken and methods: Samples from the species listed above will be collected opportunistically from recently deceased animals; animals that have been euthanased by a veterinarian for welfare reasons; and animals that are being handled and examined by a veterinarian or biologists from University of Tasmania or DPIPWE. All activities are in accordance with our UTas Animal Ethics Committee permits.
Fate of animals: the fate is independent of our opportunistic sample collection
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): none since our sampling is opportunistic and will be carried out on animals that are already deceased or euthanased, or are already being handled for examination