In 2005 Trowunna Wildlife Park was selected by the Lennon Labor Government as THE park to send the State’s gift of two young devils to Denmark to mark the birth of Crown Prince Fredrick and his Tasmanian-born wife, Mary’s first child. The Tasmanian Government made much of this devilish gift to the Prince of Denmark, but as fate would have it the devil was in the detail!
Trowunna Wildlife Park exists in a natural bush setting surrounded by habitat in which wild devils with facial tumours live. During the lead up to the breeding season in 2006 the perimeter fencing around the park provided no obstacle for determined devils and within the space of a few months a ‘trogan horse’ devil had brought the infectious transmissible tumour back to the park resulting in three other in-contact devils acquiring facial cancers.
On a number of occasions the Wildlife Park owners, one & all, had asked the Government’s DFTD Steering Committee, the body that controls the resourcing of the Save the Devil Program to provide for public investment to upgrade barrier fencing around their parks. After all they were in co-operation with the State program to ensure insurance devils were reared disease-free in their park facilities. After the 2006 DFT outbreak at Trowunna, the state government veterinarians undertook several site inspections and wrote a report into the background to this serious outbreak. They concluded that the park needed to substantially upgrade its biosecurity barrier.
Being so penny-pinching leads to these embarrassing failures. It is such a tragedy that the State Government-administered Save the Devil program (on a very substantial public budget) did not put some of its hungrily acquired money where its mouth was!
Dr David Obendorf Wildlife veterinarian
AFTER the first outbreak of the infectious devil facial tumours at the Trowunna Wildlife Parks in May 2006, all the Tasmanian wildlife park owners who had shown an interest in supporting the breeding of disease-free devils asked the Tasmanian Government to assist them in improving the physical biosecurity barrier fencing around their parks. Appropriate fencing to prevent captive tumour-free devils from escaping and wild diseased devil entering was considered paramount to the security of these important insurance devil populations.