Mammals and short-tailed shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris)
Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 31 March 2020.
Applicant: The University of Tasmania
Species/Taxon: Target species for camera trap data include Tasmanian devils (Sacrophillus harrisi), Spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus), Feral cat (Felis catus), short-tailed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris). Other species that may be captured in images include Wombat (Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis).
Location: Arthur river, Bruny Island, Midlands
Title of research: Are Felixers safe for use on Tasmanian native wildlife?
Aim of project:
To identify the risk the Felixer grooming trap would present to native Tasmanian wildlife by addressing two key factors;
1. Can the Felixer differentiate between target and non-target species when feral cats, spotted-tailed quolls, eastern quolls, Tasmanian devils and shearwaters move in front of the camera sensors?
2. How does the grooming behaviour of native carnivores, specifically the spotted-tailed quoll, differ to that of cats and how likely are native carnivores to ingest poison if they receive a dose of toxin?
The data collection must take place on reserved land as the proposed sites include a large number of target species (quolls and devils). It is also important that this study is carried out on reserved land to best imitate the Felixer response when stationed in the wild.
This study has conservation benefits as the results will provide information on how target-specific the Felixer is and if it can be safely used around native Tasmanian wildlife for the purpose of feral cat control.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: (if impossible to estimate, indicate effort eg number of traps to be used and how long to be set):
Three camera traps will be set up in a small grid surrounding a Felixer in non-lethal setting in two locations at Arthur River and Bruny Island for two weeks. Precise numbers on how many individuals will be captured by the cameras cannot be given however estimates predict target species Tasmanian devils, spotted-tailed quolls and eastern quolls to show at least 5 different individuals over the time period.
Activities undertaken and methods:
Field trials will involve the Felixer being stationed at Bruny Island for two weeks with a surrounding grid of three camera traps to record the results of eastern quoll passes. Three cameras will be used as a grid for the purpose of recording any movement around the Felixer. Bruny Island will also be the site of brief Felixer deployments among the shearwater colony. This will allow us to identify if the risk of shearwaters triggering a misfire. The Felixer will only be deployed in the shearwater colony for 2 nights as the shearwaters high density should allow approximately 100 passes (20 individuals, 5 passes each) to occur. Additional trials will be run at Arthur River for the same period to capture Tasmania’s last disease-free devil population and assess the risk of the Felixer targeting this species as well. Although the study is aimed at Tasmanian native carnivores the results of other animal passes, such as native marsupials and seabirds, will be analysed and discussed. Lastly, these trials will be replicated on a property in the Midlands to capture feral cats and potentially spotted tailed quolls to include feral cat data in the comparison. Although the study is aimed at Tasmanian native carnivores, the results of passes by other animals, such as native marsupials and seabirds, will also be analysed and discussed.
Fate of animals: Animals will continue with normal behaviour for the duration of the study and will not be killed or removed.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
Animals will be impacted by the staging of artificial elements in their environment. Although the Felixers will be stationed in a place where they will have the least impact possible on animals, animals may still approach them or alter their behaviours to avoid them. No animals will be harmed as a result of this or experience any severe distress.