Mange could lead to wombat extinction

WOMBAT populations in Tasmania are at risk of extinction if an effective solution is not implemented to treat animals stricken with mange, a lobby group says.

Reports of wombats in the Cradle Mountain area with suspected mange are currently being investigated, amid concerns not enough is being done to protect the species.

TRIALS TO BEGIN TO SEE IF NEW WOMBAT MANGE CAN HALT DECLINE

John Harris, of lobby group Wombat Warriors, wrote to Premier Peter Gutwein and Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment staff on Sunday.

Following a trip to Cradle Mountain last week, Mr Harris suggested four wombats living in the area were afflicted with mange. Mr Harris, of Kelso in Tasmania's north, said there was a risk of extinction if the problem was not properly dealt with, and he warned that inaction could cost tourism and the state's reputation.

TASSIE WILDLIFE ECOLOGIST PART OF NEW WOMBAT MANGE FOCUS

"As a contagious and infectious disease, the mite slowly eats the wombat over a 2-7 month period and the wombat scratches itself to death, dying with open wounds and typically going blind and deaf along the way,'' he said.

Mr Harris questioned DPIPWE's response to the latest apparent outbreak, saying more decisive action was needed to control the spread of mange.

"Unless we do something, not only will we lose the species but we will lose wombats as a red-hot attraction,'' he said.

A DPIPWE spokeswoman said the department was aware of reports of three wombats with suspected mange near Cradle Mountain National Park.

"The department is working with local volunteers to facilitate the assessment and treatment of the animals, and will meet with conservationists next week to discuss plans for monitoring and managing mange-affected wombats at Cradle Mountain,'' she said.

Mr Harris is due to meet department representatives next week.


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