One of the great joys of visiting Tasmania's national parks and reserves is the opportunity to see wildlife in its natural habitat. Seeing a wild native animal is something special - unexpected and unpredictable.
By keeping a respectable distance from native animals and resisting the temptation to feed them, visitors can help ensure they continue to behave naturally in their habitat.
Impacts of feeding wildlife
Feeding wildlife has negative impacts on wildlife and the people who come to see them.
- Animals such as wallabies, possums and currawongs which are accustomed to being fed can become quite bold and injure you in their attempts to get food.
- Possums, devils and quolls which have been fed around campgrounds become nuisances, often stealing food and damaging camping equipment.
- Eating processed foods can cause bony growths to form in wallabies' jaws (lumpy jaw). This can lead to a slow and painful death.
- Feeding waterfowl, such as ducks, can result in feral domestic species displacing our native species.
- Animals can become dependent on hand-feeding especially in warmer months during high seasonal visitation at national parks and reserves. The increased populations of animals return to their natural diet in winter when food is usually scarce, increasing the risk of starvation. The increase in numbers also means diseases can spread more easily.
A number of commercial wildlife parks around Tasmania offer the opportunity to pat or hold, and feed, native animals safely.
Animal viewing guidelines
Guidelines have been developed to provide practical and enjoyable viewing conditions while ensuring the safety of penguins, whales, dolphins and seals.
See the following Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) pages for animal viewing guidelines:
If you see whales in Tasmanian waters or to report a whale stranding, contact the whale hotline (0427 WHALES or 0427 942 537). Provide details on the exact location of the stranded animals.
Sharing the road with wildlife
Native wildlife are particularly active in the early and later parts of the day. Some, such as Tasmanian devils, are nocturnal and only come out at night.
Long stretches of roads in Tasmania pass through native wildlife habitat. Drivers, both local and visitors, are frequently reminded through advertising and roadside signage that they are sharing the road with wildlife and to slow down when driving between dusk and dawn. See the DPIPWE website for more information on sharing the roads with wildlife.
Our native carnivores - devils, quolls, and raptors - are particularly vulnerable to vehicle strike because they use roadkill as a source of food. Also, devils are particularly hard to see at night and our raptors, such as the endangered and enormous wedge-tailed eagle, are slow to take flight.
Virtual fence devices have been installed at the side of roads where Tasmanian devils in particular are active. The devices are activated by approaching headlights, which causes them to emit sound and light stimuli and alert animals to oncoming traffic. Regardless of this, we still urge motorists to drive slowly between dusk and dawn.
Injured and orphaned wildlife
In the case of assisting injured animals on the road, stop only if it is safe to do so. The injured animal may be able to be treated.
Female marsupials may have pouch young which can be saved. Injured and orphaned animals require special treatment.
Keep the animal in a warm, dark place when transporting it and contact the Bonorong Wildlife Rescue on 0447 264 625 (all hours) or 1800RAPTOR (1800 727 867) for injured or dead birds of prey. Instructions may be provided via a recorded message.
If you find an injured or orphaned animal there are steps you can take to help, see the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and the Environment page on Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife. Groups across Tasmania work cooperatively to assist in the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned wildlife.
Please note: Bonorong Wildlife Rescue and Raptor Refuge are privately run, volunteer-based rescue service operating Tasmania-wide.
Maria Island Pledge
Maria Island National Park has an abundance of native wildlife.
An initiative of the Spring Bay Destination Action Plan Group, the Maria Island Pledge encourages all visitors to the Maria Island National Park to become custodians of the island’s values - natural, cultural and historical.
Backed by the State Government and East Coast Tourism, it aims to keep the island wild and pristine.
It specifically targets visitors who might be tempted to get too close and personal to the island’s wildlife.
I take this pledge to respect and protect the furred and feathered residents of Maria. I will remember you are wild and pledge to keep you this way.
I promise I will respectfully enjoy the wonders of your beautiful island home, from the wharf, to the Painted Cliffs, to the rocky bluffs, haunted bays and mystery of Maria’s ruins.
Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I do not leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild.
I vow to explore with a sense of responsibility, adventure and kindness. I will leave your wild island as I found it, and take home memories filled with beauty and my soul filled up with wonder.
Take the pledge on the East Coast Tourism website.