Partnership to protect threatened birds

Rosny lab

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and TasNetworks have been working together in a three-year partnership to help protect Tasmania’s threatened bird species.

TasNetworks’ Acting CEO Ross Burridge and Leadership Team visited TMAG’s Rosny Collections and Research Facility today for an update on the project and to learn more about how the museum works with threatened bird specimens.

TMAG is the principal state repository for specimens of Tasmanian fauna, and Zoology staff at the museum’s Rosny facility are highly qualified and experienced in curating faunal specimens and conducting research on Tasmanian animals.

TMAG collects and stores tissue samples of all threatened birds, mainly wedge-tailed eagles (Aquila audax) and white-bellied sea-eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster), that die through contact with infrastructure, such as powerlines.

The data collected is recorded for each specimen and then published online on the Atlas of Living Australia.

Under the three-year partnership, TasNetworks has funded a new part-time technical officer at TMAG, as well as an ultra-cold freezer to increase TMAG’s specimen storage.

This has allowed TMAG to improve and better resource the procedures currently in place at the museum for processing specimens of electrocuted threatened birds, and more rapidly report the data back to TasNetworks to help them mitigate high-risk sites and protect other birds.

Dr Judy Clarke, who has expertise in avian necropsy procedures and a background in wildlife ecology and health, has been employed as the technical officer for the project.

“The additional skills and veterinary expertise that have been enabled through this partnership with TasNetworks will enable us all to have a clearer insight into circumstances leading to the causes of death, and therefore present opportunities for developing strategies to avert those dangers to threatened species,” TMAG Director Janet Carding said.

“We feel confident that this will result in better chances for the mitigation of bird mortality and for furthering the survival of Tasmania’s magnificent birdlife by expediting specimen processing, improving data and reporting to TasNetworks and simply through knowing more about how to manage these situations.”

Janet said the partnership provided an opportunity for the wealth of scientific skills and expertise within TMAG to be used for positive outcomes for both nature and business.

“As the principal repository for specimens of Tasmanian fauna, we are really delighted to be working with TasNetworks in this way will generate important data that can have significant value for management of threatened bird populations in Tasmania,” Janet said.

“This will add to TMAG’s long-term understanding of the status and well-being of threatened bird populations in Tasmania; information that will be highly valuable for researchers and land managers long into the future.”

Pictured: (L-R) TasNetworks Acting CEO Ross Burridge, TMAG Senior Curator of Zoology Dr Cathy Byrne, TMAG Director Janet Carding and TMAG Threatened Bird Strategy Technical Officer Dr Judy Clarke looking at threatened bird specimens in the lab at TMAG's Rosny Collections and Research Facility.