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Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

04/12/2013

Parks and Wildlife Service Ulverstone staff assisted in the recovery of several penguin chicks affected by a spill of animal fat or tallow, after a truck rolled on the Bass Highway adjacent to the Lillico Beach Conservation Area yesterday morning.


Parks staff were called when it was recognised that penguin burrows may have been affected by tallow leaking from the vehicle while it was righted with a crane and moved to a truck for removal.


Ranger in charge Ben Correy and field officer Kelvin Barrett inspected penguin burrows at the scene.


“Although the majority of the tallow was pumped out of the tanker, about 100 litres did leak at the scene as it was being righted and lifted onto another truck for removal. Unfortunately the tallow had entered several burrows with penguin chicks inside,” Ben said.


Three chicks were removed, all of which were between 2 – 4 weeks old and still covered with down-feathers. They were collected by a local veterinarian for treatment. The chicks were washed and fed and the vet was hopeful they would be well enough to be released back on-site this evening.


Ben said that because the burrows were tallow-tainted and uninhabitable, artificial burrows donated by Tas Rail, would be put on site in the hope the young chicks would re-establish there.


“If they are on site, their parents will recognise them by their calls, and hopefully, they will be reunited,” Ben said.


Ben and Kelvin remained at the site, cleaning up as much tallow as possible, assisted by an excavator and DIER roadside contractors.


Late yesterday PWS staff assisted Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER) contractor Equity Labour Services to construct a 50 metre section of temporary fence to stop penguins straying onto the highway.


Tasmania Police coordinated the accident and spill response, which involved a number of agencies, including EPA and a range of DIER contractors. DPIPWE wildlife biologist Sam Thalmann provided valuable advice on caring for the penguins.

Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

The scene on the Bass Highway following a truck roll-over adjacent to the Lillico Beach Conservation Area.

Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

One of the young penguin chicks affected by the tallow spill.

Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

A chick being cleaned in a detergent bath at the Penguin Veterinary Centre. Photo courtesy of Tessa Frazer-Oakley, at the centre.

Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

And a much improved downy chick. Photo courtesy of Tessa Frazer-Oakley, Penguin Veterinary Centre.

Tallow-soaked penguins rescued after Lillico truck roll-over

Ranger in charge Ben Correy and DIER contractors ELS, erecting a new temporary fence to stop adult penguins straying onto the highway.