A wombat suspected to be afflicted with mange in the Cradle Mountain area.
A wombat suspected to be afflicted with mange in the Cradle Mountain area.

New weapon in war against mange

A NEW approach to treating wombats afflicted with mange in Tasmania is being trialled, amid concerns not enough is being done to combat the issue.

The Mercury has been told Bravecto is being used in the Cradle Mountain area - where mange has been reported - in an attempt to treat affected animals and control the spread.

Bravecto is typically used in dogs and cats as a means of protection against fleas and paralysis ticks - either as an edible chew or by putting the treatment on a spot on the animal's body.

Earlier this month, John Harris of lobby group Wombat Warriors, wrote to Premier Peter Gutwein and the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment about the issue, and met with staff soon after.

At the time, Mr Harris was critical of the department's response, saying there was a risk of extinction if the problem was not properly dealt with.

A wombat suffering from mange.
A wombat suffering from mange.

He said mange was a contagious disease that affected wombats over a 2-7 month period and, in the most serious cases, wombats could scratch themselves to death. Yesterday, Mr Harris said he was pleased action was being taken, but he called for the treatment to be used in other areas of the state where mange was prevalent - including Orford, Hamilton, New Norfolk, Bothwell and Waddamana.

"Just because they're world famous wombats, why are they so much more special than the ones living in Hamilton?,'' he said. "We have hundreds of wombats scratching themselves to death."

A DPIPWE spokesman said the Bravecto treatment was being trialled by the University of Tasmania.

"The Australian Government regulatory authority has not yet approved broadscale use of Bravecto in wildlife populations, and this is why the department is supporting research and localised trials,'' the spokesman said.

"Wombat mange has affected Tasmanian wombats for more than 100 years and does occur widely across the state. Overall, in Tasmania the prevalence of mange in wombats is low."

The spokesman said data showed localised declines in wombats in the West Tamar area, but there was no evidence to suggest there was a broader decrease across the state.