Oral presentation- Open Session 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Learning how to do it right: lessons from trial translocations of Tasmanian devils (#416)

Samantha Fox 1 , David Pemberton 1 , Drew Lee 1 , Phil Wise 1 , Jodie Elmer 1 , Judy Clarke 1 , Karen Fagg 1 , Stewart Huxtable 1 , Bill Brown 1
  1. DPIPWE, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Translocations of carnivores are notoriously difficult and the outcomes are often less than successful. Tasmanian devils, the largest remaining marsupial carnivore, are currently listed as endangered at the State and Federal level in Australia following the widespread decline of the species from Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a contagious cancer.  Over the past three years we have undertaken release events to determine the best release strategy. Here we present tracking data from Tasmanian devils released into the wild in a trial to determine which devils are more successful upon release, wild-born or captive-born. Both groups of devils were released and collared with satellite-linked GPS collars. Animals were trapped regularly to check collar fit and health status. The devils were released into a 5,000 ha site; although some individuals traveled as far as 50 km from their initial release site in the first 6 weeks, most remained within 6.48 ± 5.21 km of the release site. The data from the collars has allowed us to answer important questions such as: how far do devils disperse upon release; how long does it take devils to settle after release; do bait stations act as dampening dispersal agents and help anchor devils to the release site; and importantly is there any difference in these questions between wild and captive born devils? We discuss our findings and propose a strategy for future releases of devils back into the wild