Habitat destruction and developments
In Kelso late last year, a land owner bulldozed and burnt approximately 30 acres of gorse, despite being informed by local residents that it was habitat for up to 15 wombats, who we believed died in their burrows as a result. These wombats were well-known to the team who had been treating them on site prior to the land being sold and cleared. The land owner did not seek to take any mitigating measures, nor did he seek advice from DPIPWE or other land care groups before commencing removal of the gorse (a zone B weed in the West Tamar).
DPIPWE’s guidelines for gorse removal are very broad and do not mention the need to consider habitat for native species.
WRT consulted with lawyers at the Environmental Defender’s Office about this tragedy.
The EDO’s key recommendations include:
- Listing sarcoptic mange in wombats as a notifiable disease.
- Changing status of wombat species from common to vulnerable.
- Implementing Key Threatening Process – where sarcoptic mange threatens the survival of the wombat species, it would be under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
- Implementing a Threat Abatement Plan to manage all threats to the wombat species.
- Amend gorse removal advice provided by DPIPWE so that habitat has to be taken into consideration by land owners.
Current research into mange
Research into the efficacy of other treatments for sarcoptic mange needs to be advanced rapidly to help our suffering wombats and halt the spread of mange.
There are hopes for a faster acting drug that can cut down the lengthy time it currently takes to treat wombats. Scott Carver, a University of Tasmania researcher, has been trialing a new chemical treatment to test its safety and efficacy before release.