Wom­bat alert for weed hit

Tasmanian Country - - CROSSWORD -

WOM­BAT res­cue vol­un­teers in the north­ern town of Kelso are fum­ing after bur­rows were buried and burnt as part of a gorse-clear­ing ex­er­cise on pri­vately owned land.

Wom­bat War­riors say there were about 13 wom­bats living on the land but none have been seen alive since the clear­ing took place.

A photo of a dead wom­bat with singed and black­ened fur found on a Kelso street was posted on Wom­bat War­riors’ Face­book page.

Many of the wom­bats were be­ing treated or had pre­vi­ously been treated for sar­cop­tic mange, a dis­ease spread­ing from the North across wom­bat pop­u­la­tions statewide.

Kelso has been one of the hard­est hit ar­eas and vol­un­teers have been erect­ing “bur­row flaps” to drench in­fected wom­bats and “hos­pi­tals” were es­tab­lished to iso­late and treat in­fected an­i­mals.

At Narawn­tapu Na­tional Park the wom­bat pop­u­la­tion has been cut from hun­dreds to less than 10.

The group is hop­ing other parcels of land that house heal­ing wom­bats will be bought by con­ser­va­tion groups to en­sure more bur­rows are not im­pacted in the same way.

In an email, a vol­un­teer said she had spo­ken to the new own­ers of the 16ha block and ex­plained many treated wom­bats lived in the gorse.

“I know they have a right to clear gorse, but do be­lieve a small por­tion where the bur­rows were could have been left in­tact,” the vol­un­teer said.

“A dozer was used to push gorse, and 13 wom­bats and their young were never seen again. Burn­ing has been car­ried out con­tin­u­ously since.”

A spokesman for the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries, Parks, Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­ment said staff would speak to landown­ers to en­sure they were aware of wom­bats. The dis­cus­sion will can­vass op­tions to con­trol gorse, a de­clared weed.

Last month a rally called on the State Gov­ern­ment to stop is­su­ing per­mits for landown­ers to shoot wom­bats and de­liv­ered a pe­ti­tion with more than 33,000 sig­na­tures.

For more on gorse­clear­ing meth­ods go to www. dpipwe.tas.gov.au/ in­va­sive-species/weeds.

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