Virtual fences bid to lower roadkill numbers

More of Tasmania's roads are to be lined with virtual fence units designed to prevent Tasmanian devils and other native animals becoming roadkill.

The units are being installed in the state's north-east thanks to a partnership between industry, volunteer groups and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP).


STDP Program Manager Dr David Pemberton says virtual fences are a key part of roadkill mitigation and the donation is timely so soon after the release of 33 devils into the wukalina/Mount William area in May.


"Virtual fence devices are an active electronic protection system that warns animals that a vehicle is on a road," Dr Pemberton said. "The devices are activated by approaching headlights, which causes them to emit sound and light stimuli and alert animals to oncoming traffic."


$20,000 worth of virtual fencing has been purchased by the STDP thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Wildcare Saffire Devil Fund and a $10,000 donation from Woolnorth Wind Farms.


"Thanks to this generous grant and donation, virtual fence units are being installed in roadkill hotspots around the wukalina/ Mount William release area," Dr Pemberton said. "It will allow us to respond to hotspots more quickly and efficiently – not only for this release but also future projects."


The Wild Devil Recovery trials are ascertaining the best methodology to use when returning Tasmanian devils back to the wild.


Dr Pemberton said the release locations were chosen due to their long-term disease status and the need to increase genetic diversity in the incumbent populations.


"In order for the STDP to measure the success of the releases and to provide as many new devils to the incumbent population as possible, it is important to maximise the number of released animals that survive, especially past the initial vulnerable period of eight weeks," he said.


Motorists are reminded to be aware of the risk of animals on the road when driving, especially from dusk until dawn.​ ​