Tasmania’s island advantage – our world-class parks and reserves, our clean and green produce and our unique biodiversity – relies on keeping out and/or controlling invasive introduced diseases, pests and weeds. The following species present the greatest threats and/or the most significant management challenges.
The Tasmanian community is on HIGH ALERT for the following pests. Please follow the reporting instructions below.
REPORT - 1300 369 688 (1300 FOX OUT)
European fox (Photo: Chris Cox, IACRC)
Foxes are intelligent, elusive and deadly, recognised nationally as the single most devastating introduced
pest. Should foxes become established in Tasmania, over 70 native animal species would be at risk, with quolls, bettongs, bandicoots and pademelons most vulnerable. These species have disappeared or are extremely rare on the Australian mainland due to fox predation.
Tasmanian status: Foxes have been deliberately introduced into Tasmania a number of times. Most of these introductions were for recreational hunting and the animals were killed shortly after release.
Control: Every fox sighting requires immediate notification. The aim is for eradication, not control.
See our web pages on the fox
for further details.
REPORT - 1800 084 881 (Emergency Plant Pest Hotline) Photograph and accurately record location. Do not collect a sample.
Mature infections produce yellow pustules, distinguishing it from other Myrtaceae diseases (Photo: Dr Angus Carnegie. Courtesy: NSW DII)
Myrtle rust is a disease only found in the Myrtaceae family, which includes eucalypts, teatrees and paperbarks. It is caused by the rust fungus, Puccinia psidii
. Myrtle rust exists in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria and has recently been found in Tasmania. During summer the disease is indicated by bright yellow pustules seen on the soft growing tips of leaves, stems and buds. When severely infected, young plants and new growth may become stunted and/or die.
How it spreads: Spores spread by wind, rain, animals (birds, insects) and people with contaminated material (eg bringing plants from interstate, clothing.)
Control: Please keep an eye out for the distinctive yellow or orange spores on any myrtaceae plants. If you see any such signs, contact DPIPWE on 03 6165 3785. If you are out of mobile phone range, don't take a sample of the plant that appears infected. Instead, take a note of your location (GPS is ideal, but simple directions as to how to find the plant will be good) and, if possible, tie a ribbon or otherwise mark the affected plant. Then contact 03 6165 3785. as soon as you can.
REPORT - 1800 675 888 (Disease Watch Hotline) People coming from New Zealand waterways must be especially vigilant, ensuring boats, trailers, fishing, diving and boating gear are clean and dry. Once established, control of didymo is impossible.
Didymo (rock snot) (Photo: Shirley Hayward, courtesy of NIWA, NZ)
Didymo, or rock snot, is made up of millions of microscopic cells that can’t be seen until a large colony has formed – by which stage it’s almost impossible to eradicate. Widespread in the northern hemisphere and has been present as a pest in New Zealand since 2004 where it has wreaked havoc choking streams and river systems. The thick, brown, slimy sludge spreads rapidly, attaching to rocks and submerged plants. Significantly impacts water quality, aquatic invertebrates and fish stocks. Hazardous for hydroelectric generation, agricultural irrigation and recreation.
Tasmanian status: Not detected. Quarantine Services on highest alert, vigilantly checking ports of entry from New Zealand.
How it spreads: One didymo cell in a single drop
of water is enough for the algae to spread. Its primary spread pathway is via contaminated aquatic and fishing equipment between waterways.
Control: Once established, control is impossible.
The following pests have arrived in Tasmania. Their eradication is either not feasible, or is extremely unlikely. To minimise their spread, please refer to the action items in the table below.
Phytophthora – Root Rot
Mould spores cannot survive out of water. Use washdown stations where they are present. Stay on marked tracks where possible to avoid spreading disease.
Dead swamp heath and white waratah in the foreground
(Photo courtesy: Tim Rudman, DPIPWE)
is an introduced watermould that can cause plant disease and death in native Tasmanian vegetation, particularly in buttongrass moorland, heathland and heathy dry eucalypt communities. Numerous species are affected, including grass trees, many native peas, white waratah and christmas bells.
Tasmanian status: Present and widespread throughout Tasmania in lowland environments (below 700m). Disease is present in many national parks and reserves, however significant disease-free areas remain that require protection.
How it spreads: The mould spreads in water and mud, and from plant to plant.Typical carriers include bushwalking and camping gear, and muddy vehicle tyres.
Control: Not feasible to eradicate. Focus is on protecting natural areas with significant values (eg threatened species) and disease-free areas.
The fungus cannot survive out of water. Don’t move frogs or tadpoles to new locations. Don’t transfer water, plants, soil between frog habitats. If disposing of large volumes of water in natural areas stay away from frog habitat. Report sightings of sick or dead frogs to 1800 675 888 (Disease Watch Hotline)
Tasmanian tree frog (Photo courtesy:Alex Dudley)
Chytrid fungus infects the skin of frogs destroying its structure and function, and can ultimately cause death.The disease has been causing frog extinctions worldwide.
Tasmanian status: Present and widespread in disturbed areas, while largely absent from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Our three endemic species are potentially at risk (Tasmanian tree frog, Tasmanian froglet and Moss froglet), along with the Green and gold frog and Striped marsh frog, which are already threatened.
How it spreads: The movement of infected frogs, tadpoles and water are the key agents of spread.
The fungus is also spread in muddy bushwalking and camping gear, vehicle tyres, and in fire-fighting water tanks.
Control: Extremely difficult. No effective way currently to treat wild infected frog populations.The aim is to prevent further spread from infected to uninfected
sites, especially within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Mucor amphibiorum is a native Australian fungus causing a potentially deadly ulcerative infection in Tasmanian platypus.There is no known evidence of the disease affecting platypus on the Australian mainland.
Tasmanian status: The disease has been detected in Tasmanian platypus since 1982, and is particularly prevalent in the north-central part of the state.
How it spreads: Unknown
Trout, European wasps, European bumblebees, European honey bees, feral cats, feral goats, rabbits and European foxes are just some of the introduced animals that threaten our native species and natural areas.The most significant of these is the European fox.
Weeds pose a significant threat to Tasmania’s natural environment.Those that invade bushland and threaten native plants by outcompeting them are known as environmental weeds.Tasmania has 68 declared environmental weeds.Those most affecting our natural areas at present are European gorse, blackberry, hawthorn, Spanish heath, boneseed and sea spurge.
Tasmanian status: Many national parks and reserves are relatively free of weeds, with most occurring in areas of greater human activity.
How they spread: Weed seeds have been commonly found on or in vehicles (especially underneath), clothing (especially pockets and attached to velcro), backpacks and bags.
Control: Some weeds can be locally eradicated. Many, however, are only able to be controlled, or it is not feasible to manage them.
More information: Contact Weeds, Pests and Diseases, DPIPWE
Australia has over 250 introduced marine species, however not all are deemed marine pests. Most have little impact. Some however, are highly invasive and aggressive, threatening our native species and marine ecosystems. Tasmania’s worst marine pests are described below.
Control: Marine pests are almost impossible to control. A few are being harvested on a small-scale for commercial gain (long-spined sea urchin and Japanese kelp).
More information: Contact: Sea Fishing & Aquaculture, DPIPWE.
Northern Pacific seastar (Asterias ammurensis)
Highly invasive voracious feeder of shellfish and other marine animals. Few predators. Arrived aboard boat hulls, fishing gear and ballast.
New Zealand screwshell (Maoricolpus roseus)
Rapidly spreads and competes for food and space with native screwshells and scallops on sandy seafloors. Few predators. Arrived in ballast water.
European green crab (Carcinus maenas)
Preys on scallops, mussels and oysters. Invades habitat of native crabs, causes havoc in aquaculture farms. Arrived aboard boats and fishing gear.
Japanese kelp (Undaria pinnatifida)
Highly invasive, grows rapidly, excludes native seaweeds. Spores transported aboard boats, on fishing and dive gear, and in natural currents.
Long-spined sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii)
Native to east Australian mainland. As the ocean’s temperature increases, its range has extended further south. The species now exists down the entire eastern coast of Tasmania. In large numbers, without predators, they completely transform lush, productive kelp beds into lifeless bare rock. One of the few predators able to break into their spiny shells are very large rock lobsters, which are found in marine protected areas.
Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas)
Spreads rapidly, competes with native shellfish. Native to Japan. Introduced to Tasmania for aquaculture.
European clam (Varicorbula gibba)
Spreads rapidly. Can completely alter seafloor ecology. Competes with native species and commercial scallops. Arrived aboard boats and fishing gear.
Left to right: Northern Pacific seastar, New Zealand screwshell, Long-spined sea urchin, Pacific oyster
Before you leave home (and between tracks, rivers, lakes and islands)
Thoroughly CHECK your waders, footwear, velcro, pockets, packs, equipment, boats and vehicles for mud, soil, algae and plant material. Check boats, food containers and equipment for stowaway invertebrates and other pests.
Ensure that all debris is removed from clothing, packs and equipment and is left on site or disposed of appropriately. CLEAN clothing and equipment by scrubbing in local or town water.
Visiting an off-shore island?
Where complete drying of footwear and equipment is not possible, DISINFECT by spraying or soaking with F10 solution for at least one minute (absorbent material at least five minutes). Boat owners should regularly anti-foul hulls.
Completely DRY all waders, footwear, clothing, equipment, boats and vehicles. Dry neoprene or felt for 48 hours.
Many of our islands are free from pests, weeds and diseases—and we’d like to keep them that way. If you’re visiting an island, CHECK, CLEAN AND DRY everything before you leave home.