An image depicting a decapitated wallaby, reportedly at a vacant property south of Hobart has led to concern among residents and internet sleuths alike.
Responding to the picture this week, some Reddit users thought the remains looked too clean for an animal attack, and that most predators would have eaten the head. Another user suggested humans could be responsible, with one suggesting “ripping a head off would be right up (the) alley” of some “two-legged ferals”.
The wallaby was found at Margate, less than 20km from where a series of mutilated animals have been found. They have included a wallaby head spiked and raised in a tree on February 5, and a decapitated one nearby on February 27.
While there is no suggestion the finds are linked, or that the kills were deliberate prior to mutilation, the finds have left some Tasmanians uneasy.
Expert assesses decapitated wallaby image
Veteran Tasmanian ecologist Nick Mooney gave a detailed assessment of the image but said it would be a “struggle” to determine whether the animal had been scavenged or killed without examining the body and surrounding landscape.
Ordinarily, he said a fit 10kg Bennetts wallaby would struggle when killed, leaving ground scratches and gouges on the body, and fur scattered on the ground where it was killed.
He noted small amounts of droppings nearby, likely from forest ravens, but confirmed the species could not kill a wallaby, or break the skin, other than thin areas inside the leg. “If pushed, an eagle can kill such wallabies and like all carnivores they are enthusiastic scavengers. Eagles often eat part of the head, the brain is very sought after,” he said.
Because large dogs are “very efficient” at killing prey, he suggested one could be responsible for killing the wallaby. “(They) can kill with a head bite but I have seen devils get lucky the same way. No doubt thylacines similarly behaved. But regardless there would be evidence of struggle.”
Tasmania’s department of environment (NRE) said its investigations and enforcement team had not received a report about the wallaby.
“Anyone with information about suspected wildlife offences should report it to the Investigations and Enforcement Services on 0417 661 234 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information can be provided anonymously,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The person who posted the image online has been contacted for comment.
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