Shock at quoll’s death by plas­tic

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - CHANEL KINNIBURGH [email protected]

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.

Pic­ture: MAX­INE HINDELL

UP­SET­TING: An eastern quoll found on Bruny Is­land is be­lieved to have died after be­com­ing stuck in some rub­bish.

Pic­ture: AFP

NEED PRO­TECT­ING: Ju­ve­nile eastern quolls.

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