Senator’s gruesome photo highlights ‘devastating situation’

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGES: An Australian senator is sharing gruesome images on social media to highlight what he says is a "devastating situation" in his state.

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson says Tasmanian devils are being killed with growing regularity on a stretch of highway in the state's far northwest.

"Sorry. I know this is confronting. But it keeps happening," he wrote on Facebook Tuesday.

"And if we don’t see, we don’t act."

Posting images of the native marsupials lying dead on the side of the road, he called for more to be done to stop their deaths. Some images are graphic, showing the guts of the endangered animal splattered on the side of the road.

"I’ve received the devastating news this morning of more Tasmanian devil’s killed on Woolnorth Road in Tassie overnight ... That’s three in the last three days, 14 in just over one week," he wrote.

The endangered animals are becoming road kill in the state's north. Source: Facebook/
The endangered animals are becoming road kill in the state's north. Source: Facebook/

The area is considered one of the last remaining bastions of the unique animal because a deadly facial tumour disease (DFTD) has decimated populations by up to 90 per cent in some parts of the state – the only place they're still found in the wild.

"I understand these images are terrible, and I don’t want to have to post them – but I’m going to keep doing so until all levels of government and the neighbouring dairy farms act."

From a peak number of about 53,000 in 1996, when DFTD was discovered, there are about 17,000 devils remaining, according to research released this month from the University of Tasmania.

"No monitored populations have gone locally extinct, and our model forecasts the decline should plateau within the next decade at about 12,000 devils," researchers wrote, claiming the species "is at lower risk of imminent extinction than we thought 10 years ago."

Wildlife ecologist Dr Calum Cunningham releasing a Tasmanian devil in the wild this month. Source: AAP
Wildlife ecologist Dr Calum Cunningham releasing a Tasmanian devil in the wild this month. Source: AAP

To help ensure the preservation of the remaining populations, Senator Whish-Wilson is calling for mitigation efforts such as lower speed limits, signage and fencing to reduce the risk of road kill instances.

He said companies operating in the area, particularly extractive companies like miners, often have environmental mandates placed upon them to support conservation efforts.

"How many Tassie devils must die on Woolnorth Road for this devastating situation to be taken seriously?" he wrote.

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, an initiative of the Australian and Tasmanian governments, was established nearly two decades ago to help protect the species.

A spokesperson from Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment (DPIPWE) which oversees the program told told Yahoo News Australia: “All devil roadkill is of concern”.

“The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program is aware of the reports of devil road-kill on the Woolnorth road this year," they said.

“Data collected by the Program and other areas of State Government provide spatial and temporal information on road-kill. This data reveals a recurring annual spike in road-killed devils during the summer months throughout the state. This pattern is thought to occur because juvenile devils disperse from their mothers’ dens at this time of year, sometimes using roads to travel.”

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