Shock at quoll’s death by plastic
A DISTRESSING picture of a dead eastern quoll with its head stuck in a cream bottle on a Bruny Island beach has prompted fresh calls for people to pick up their rubbish and cut out plastic.
Maxine Hindell, of North Bruny, took the photo on Saturday morning while walking her dogs at Apollo Bay.
“It was very distressing to see and horrible to think about how the poor creature died,” she said. “It was just a needless, terrible consequence of some person’s thoughtless act.”
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary director Greg Irons said the likely causes of death were suffocation, starvation and dehydration, or drowning, given the proximity to the water.
“So much effort goes into saving just one life, so when you lose an endangered species so needlessly through something so avoidable it’s a massive slap in the face,” Mr Irons said.
“A piece of rubbish can kill an animal, whether you put it there or not. Hopefully lots of people look at that photo and feel moved to pick up someone else’s rubbish off the ground or think twice before they recklessly discard of plastic.”
Mr Irons said the eastern quoll was found only in Tas- mania and was classified as endangered, but there was a program to reintroduce the species to mainland Australia.
“We need to do everything we can to keep their numbers high,” he said.
“They’re a carnivorous marsupial and they’re really important in the ecosystem. We’ve already lost the Tassie tiger and we need to learn from that and recognise we cannot afford to lose any more carnivores.”
The eastern quoll, which is the size of a small domestic cat and is coloured fawn, brown or black, is found in a variety of habitats including rainforest, heathland, alpine areas and scrub.
Associate Professor Menna Jones, who has worked with quolls and Tasmanian devils for 30 years, said Bruny Island was considered a “hot spot” for eastern quolls because there was a low population of predatory feral cats in the area.
“North Bruny is where we have the largest population anywhere of eastern quolls,” she said.
“They’re really precious and we’ve got to look after them.”
Professor Jones said dying from asphyxiation was a “rare event for the species” but was still “very significant”.
“If you have to buy something in a container, try to make sure it’s glass or cardboard, not plastic,” she said.
“Everyone is responsible for taking care of the planet and wildlife.”
If you find a live animal that requires assistance, please call Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary on 0447 264 625 or Raptor Refuge on 1800 727 867.
UPSETTING: An eastern quoll found on Bruny Island is believed to have died after becoming stuck in some rubbish.
NEED PROTECTING: Juvenile eastern quolls.