The main barrier to resolution is the Tasmanian culture. We have a government, a forest industry, key government departmental heads and a sector of our community that have worked themselves into an introverted state of paranoia. The sickness builds and festers as extreme denial such as the Gunns legal action.
Whenever this culture is threatened the excuses and diversions flow. Be it water quality testing or tumours various well placed department heads, paid lackeys or other vested interests are quick to deny all through their media networks. I’m sure Galileo had similar problems with the culture in the Church of his day.
David has quite correctly observed the shallowness of the Devil Rescue plan and the terms of reference of current research. In a mirror image of the treatment of Tasmanian Aborigines and the Thylacine by previous generations we seem destined to repeat history.
Judy Jackson is clearly out of her depth (again) while the froth and bubble of the Rescue Plan appears to have been drafted by a Spin Doctor rather than a Scientific Doctor.
Science in Tasmania is in dire need of openness of mind, independence and international standards of professionalism. I am not saying aspects of these do not already exist in some people but the current culture is stifling advancement on many fronts.
Another example is the mismanagement of Intelligent Island funding where the government seems devoid of the mental capacity to even understand the question. Personally, I still believe the government had already spent this money elsewhere (Spirit of Tasmania III) but was just caught out.
We need independence of the people in this state to enable this society to mature, accept responsibilty for its problems and be accountable for its decisions.Posted by Mark on 07/02/05 at 07:47 AM
What I would like to know at this point is: if Dr Obendorf, the Tasmanian Greens or anyone else believes the devil to be a threatened species, why have they not simply nominated it for listing as such themselves? The listing process is such that anyone can nominate a species for listing. The processes involved in submitting a nomination are simple (unlike the processes involved in assessing one, which are longwinded, defective and in need of a serious overhaul.) I have personally nominated several species for listing or delisting and the process involves filling out a simple two-page form and then adding whatever material one wishes.
Surely anyone who genuinely believes this species to qualify for listing as threatened should be getting on with nominating it for assessment by the Scientific Advisory Committee ASAP instead of playing silly political games of trying to embarrass the government into doing it itself? Not that Dr Obendorf appears to be playing such games, but the Greens are a different story. As for Dr Obendorf’s claim that a meeting on 20/5/04 was told of State plans to nominate the species - by whom was this comment made? Was it unequivocal or conditional? Is there any record of the exact comments?
I am also surprised, or perhaps it is just a question of different ways of using the same word, that Dr Obendorf says the disease is “without precedent in the world”. It may well be without recorded, confirmed precedent, or without precedent in any other species, but if the hypothesis that this sort of thing may have happened to Tasmanian devils several times before has been debunked in the last fifteen minutes, it would be very useful to hear of it.Posted by Dr Kevin Bonham on 07/02/05 at 10:27 AM
Regardless of any hypothesis that there may have been large fluctuations in the Devil population in the past we are now faced with a non-hypothetical situation:
1 There is a serious disease killing Tasmanian Devils at an alarming rate.
2. Devils are carnivorous scavengers that often eat poisoned carcasses
3.Other carnivores (such as cats and dogs) are highly susceptible to the effects of this poison.
While it may not be directly fatal to Devils there is no evidence or reason to believe that it has no effect.
4.The immune system is relatively little understood but there is incontrovertible evidence that various chemicals interfere with its functioning.
5.Proving the link between long-term chemical ingestion and illness/disease is notoriously difficult.
It would seem more than reasonable to suspect that there may be a link between 1080 ingestion and DFTD but there is considerable reluctance to investigate this for what would appear to be political/commercial reasons.
It is fairly obvious that the Forest Industry would be severely impacted both on a practical level and in terms of PR - if 1080 poisoning were proven to be contributing to the spread of the disease. We know that the State Government is a strong supporter of the Forest Industry and has shown itself unwilling to do anything that might seriously impact on it.
Irrespective of whether it is the direct cause of the spread of DFTD, widespread 1080 use should be banned simply on humane grounds. The Forest Industry should be obliged to use non-lethal methods of control on browsing wildlife despite the fact that it would cost them more. Fencing is currently the most humane option and fairly effective though somewhat expensive. Gunn’s annual (taxpayer subsidised) profits indicate that these costs could be easily absorbed and would not be prohibitive. This would certainly create employment which is the continual mantra of both the industry and Government.
In the meantime we are expected to wait for “scientific proof” before acting to curtail the widespread use of a dangerous chemical that cruelly kills thousands of native animals annually and which, in the absence of serious research indicating the contrary, may reasonably be suspected of contributing to the rapid decline in the Devil population.
Insisting on waiting for scientific proof while muddying the waters with fallacious and irrelevant argument has been a favourite delaying tactic used by tobacco companies, asbestos producers, other polluters and their apologists (both paid and unpaid) over the years.
http://www.buyselltrade.com.auPosted by pat synge on 08/02/05 at 11:57 PM
Pat Synge’s post is just a modified rehash (with some of the more glaring errors and omissions rectified) of her post which appeared in the comments section under “Chemical fears: the devil disease”. I really cannot see the point of posting basically the same post twice and I refer readers to the debate on that thread.
For what it’s worth, I thought that past fluctuations in devil numbers were not so much a hypothesis as something for which there is quite strong (albeit anecdotal) historical evidence. What is at this stage hypothetical is the claim that these fluctuations were caused by DFTD or some other similar condition.Posted by Dr Kevin Bonham on 09/02/05 at 04:19 AM
Mark and Pat, Dr Obendorf does not mention forests, forestry, 1080 or Gunns at all in his letter.
Neither he mentions spin doctors or paranoia, which you so efficiently seem to represent. Please get serious and spend your efforts in trying to understand the disease rather than on scoring a cheap political point.
If you talk to any researcher working with devils they will point out that there is no evidence of a link between chemical applications and facial tumors. For your information, 1080 will stop being used in State Forests starting in December this year. That will leave farmers as the main users of 1080 in the State.Posted by Prince of Darkness on 09/02/05 at 06:45 AM
Kevin, I agree that a second posting of essentially the same comment may seem superfluous. It was made at the specific request of the moderator who must have felt that it was relevant to add it to this debate.
I also accept the The Prince of Darkness’s statement that there is “no evidence of a link between chemical applications and facial tumours” but restate my assertion that such a link would be extremely difficult to prove, that there is “quite strong (albeit anecdotal) evidence” linking cancers to toxic chemical ingestion and that there is a reluctance to pursue this line of research.
It is encouraging that 1080 use will “start to stop” (!!) being used in December in State Forest and that this will leave “farmers as the main users”. I suggest that this will include “tree farmers”.
http://www.buyselltrade.com.auPosted by pat synge on 09/02/05 at 10:08 PM
Dearest Prince of Misinterpretation
When you first read my comments above you may have heard a light thud. That was the sound of my point cannoning into the wall just above your head.
I will give you the benefit of doubt and assume your eyes glazed somewhere within the first paragraph.
PS: Thank you for noting my efficiency as it is a personal strength. I wish the same for the Tasmanian Devil research.
Yours in regality
Prince of Enlightenment (not really, it’s just Mark)Posted by Mark on 10/02/05 at 09:57 PM
i think that tasmanian devils have become a very endangered species and that tasmania as a whole should relise what is happening to them.
if people especially young people should start to appreiciate these beautiful creatures before they are all gone. it is only recently at school that i have realised that these animals are under threat.Posted by Ruby on 22/09/05 at 01:14 AM
It is to my concern that the tasmanian devil is going to suffer the same fate as its ancestor the thylacine.
It was just the other day at my school that I realised the threat that the tasmanian devil is under and I don’t think that the greater of our community realises how close the tasmanian devils are to extinction.
If the public were more aware of the devils disease they would be trying harder to help like raising money and things like that.
thank you for your time,
rubyPosted by ruby on 22/09/05 at 01:30 AM
I didn’t like the way that our ancestors didn’t do any thing to help save the thylacine and just let it die out i think they could have done more to save it.
I don’t want my grandchildren to come to me one day and ask why I let the tasmanian devil die out, because i think there is more that can be done in the mean time whilst they are trying to find a cure for this horrible disease.
It kills me to see these lovely creatures suffer and most of them die from this awful disease.
thank you for you time,
Demi.Posted by Demi Mclennan on 22/09/05 at 01:30 AM
More information websites would be very useful, I don’t believe the 1080 is to blame, what else have researchers found?Posted by grant on 10/07/06 at 12:06 PM