More than 50 dead devils found in six months at Woolnorth, resident claims

Devil death toll rises to 50

More than 50 Tasmanian devils have been killed on a single road in north-west Tasmania the last six months, a concerned resident says.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she drove along Woolnorth Road regularly, and that the numbers had been rising steadily since it was revealed back in March that 30 devils had already been killed on the road this year.

"We're just letting them get smashed on the road," she said.

"Back in March it was 10 and that was a big deal. Now we're at 50 and f******* nothing has changed."

The resident said the Woolnorth and Robbins Island populations were among the last wild, healthy devil populations in the state.

"It's heartbreaking," she said.

"Why are we not doing everything we can to save them? The fact that they're even discussing putting a wind farm on Robbins Island worries me."

She said she estimated the Woolnorth population to be about 500, and the Robbins Island population about 150.

DEVILS ON ROBBINS ISLAND

UPC Robbins Island COO Dave Pollington said he was also concerned about the devil population.

He said the company's windfarm proposal was still not approved, and could be adjusted depending on the environmental requirements.

"If our approvals require us to put another virtual fence in, we will. We don't want to cause any impact, that's not our intention," he said.

He said UPC had already proposed a number of avoidance and mitigation measures, including:

  • An area of the island excluded from the development following a natural values survey which indicated it was optimal devil denning habitat.
  • Virtual fencing to be installed on part of West Montagu Road (public road) where the collision risk is high.
  • Roadkill monitoring on the transport route to Robbins Island and on the island itself to be undertaken daily during construction - this will involve collecting carrion to reduce the risk of devils being hit by vehicles.
  • The majority of construction workers will be bussed to site to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
  • Vehicles will be restricted to driving at 40 km/hr on the island and where practical at 80 km/hr on the transport route (via public roads) to the island. Transport of equipment and materials is also being undertaken via barges direct to Robbins Island from Burnie and Bell Bay.
  • A Roadkill Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan will be prepared prior to construction and approved by the EPA and the Department.
  • The impact to devil habitat to be offset by protecting part of the island via a conservation covenant.
  • Access to the bridge will be through a biosecurity gate which will exclude access by feral and native animals.
  • Micrositing of wind turbines and other associated infrastructure will be done to avoid devil dens.
  • In the event that a devil is killed a contribution will be made to the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

The public exhibition stage of the project is due in the coming months.

DEVILS AT WOOLNORTH

A spokesperson for Van Dairy, the company which owns most of the Woolnorth farms, said they took wildlife and environmental protection "very seriously", and would be "happy" to consider additional measures to support the devils.

"We recently set aside over ten per cent of our total farm area, or 1800 hectares, to provide habitat for Tasmania's most iconic animal, the Tasmanian Devil," they said.

"In addition to the land set aside for the Devils, Van Dairy has also begun replanting thousands of trees to help re-wild the area.

"We have put in place protocols to ensure that farm workers avoid contact with the Devils, including while driving."

The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment was also approached for comment, including a query on how the Roadkill Tas App data was monitored, but did not respond before deadline.

This story Devil death toll rises to 50 first appeared on The Advocate.