Emus on Maria Island?

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Emus on Maria Island?

Postby guyburns » Sat 20 Jul, 2019 7:39 pm

I have some 8mm film of emus on Maria Island in 1972 that may become a part of a bushwalking AV. I want to know if they are still there. I thought they'd been removed, and I thought a few seconds on Googling would confirm that. However, 10 minutes of Googling, and I'm still not sure. The National Parks list of birds on Maria https://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=4640 doesn't list emus, but several other sites say emus are still there.

Are they?
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Sat 20 Jul, 2019 11:37 pm

Nope no more emus on Maria.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby guyburns » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 2:21 am

Thanks for the confirmation. Looks like I have some historic footage then. Any idea of when they were removed?
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby ILUVSWTAS » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 8:11 am

I was told recently but like much of what i'm told these days it seems to have slipped through my memory. I can find out though if no one else does in the meantime.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 9:19 am

The history as far as I recall:

There used to be distinct species - or possibly sub-species - of Tasmanian Emus. These were shorter legged and had much thicker feathers than the mainland variety. Colonial settlement finished them off. At some stage (and I don't recall when) there was a project to try to "recover" them and see if it was possible to replace them in some parts of their former range. So a bunch of mainland emus were collected, all withh noticably shorter legs and thicker feathering, and transported to Maria to breed and see what happened. No offspring, through all the subsequent generations, displayed the desired short-legged, thick-feathered characteristics, so eventually the project was declared a bust.
I wouldn't swear to it, but I think the emus were removed around the same time the sheep were. This was after my time with TasPAWS (I left Tassie at the end of 1981), so I can't give you a date.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby guyburns » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 11:50 am

Since info about Maria Island emus is so difficult to find (no mention of them on the Wikipedia page for instance), I'll make it my mission to find out as much as possible and update Wikipedia, with help from interested parties here.

What organisation or individuals might know the detailed history of emus on Maria Island? I have a contact inside DPIPWE. Would they? I can't find anything on their website.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby north-north-west » Sun 21 Jul, 2019 12:40 pm

guyburns wrote:What organisation or individuals might know the detailed history of emus on Maria Island? I have a contact inside DPIPWE. Would they? I can't find anything on their website.


They might. They should at least be able to get you in touch with someone who knows.
If TasPAWS still have an historian, they'd be able to help. Anyone from the Wildlife Division (or whatever the current version is) would be able to find out. Outside of DPIPWE, you could try asking the research section at TMAG.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby Son of a Beach » Mon 22 Jul, 2019 3:00 pm

They would have been removed after 1984, as they were certainly there, terrorising anybody that looked like they might have been trying to eat lunch, the first time I visited Maria that Summer. They scared the willies out of me trying to pinch my tucker right out of my hands, and they were a lot taller than I was at the time.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby headwerkn » Mon 19 Aug, 2019 9:04 pm

I recall seeing emus on Maria amongst my first trips there as a boy, this would have been mid to late 1980s, top of Oyster Bay if memory serves correct.

Funny, have never thought about them since on subsequent trips!
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby myrtlegirl » Mon 19 Aug, 2019 10:25 pm

Writer Kathy Gatenby lived on Maria as a child and has written a book about her parents many years on the island. She may be a useful person to ask. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/188 ... ria-island

Maggie Weidenhofer's book on Maria covers from convict times to the 1970s. I have a copy of this book if you can't find it elsewhere. It mentions the emus, noting the same info as NNW has mentioned.
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby guyburns » Mon 19 Aug, 2019 11:11 pm

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I was put on to Greg Hocking at DPIPWE who had this to say:

"Emus were introduced to Maria Island. I understand they originated from Adelaide zoo and they were released around 1969-70. Their numbers built up and it was estimated that there were 20-30 by the early 1980’s by which time it was decided that they were a risk to visitors and efforts were made to eradicate them by shooting. As far as I am aware the last one was shot during the first of the Kangaroo culls in 1994. They have not been sighted since then."
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Re: Emus on Maria Island?

Postby Jon MS » Wed 21 Aug, 2019 3:03 pm

I can add a little more to that regarding the emus on Maria Is.

It is my understanding that the intention was to stock the island with lots of "food" for Tas Tigers. Parks had had a very good sighting of a tiger in the South Arthur by one of their staff in 1972 and the plan was to capture a few animals then breed them up on Maria Is. The main problem with this plan was that they didn't manage to capture any tigers!

There are good descriptions of Tas emus before they went extinct including some samples in TMAG. They managed to find 4 mainland emus which looked like Tas emus (short, stocky, long dark feathers, short upper leg) which were let go on the island. One of these emus died soon after so they found another and released it. These 5 emus are the only ones which looked like Tas emus and their young looked like normal mainland emus.

By the early to mid 1980s the emus were a pest.

There was a story going round that a ranger was returning from South Maria and encountered a emu on the isthmus track. He wondered how fast they could run. The answer is about 60 kph before they trip up and you run over them...

I had a similar experience in 1993. There had been a lightning strike on the hill above Darlington which had started a fire and I was driving back from the dam with a full load of water when we encountered a emu on the track, which took off at speed. Round the next corner were 2 tourists, and the emu had run between them at full speed, followed by a Parks 4wd...

I remember one morning a camper went over to the toilet block first thing in the morning and on return found a emu head down-bum up in the front of his tent. He hit the emu on the rump with a lump of firewood. The emu took off, through his brand new expensive tent, turning it from having 1 door to being very well ventilated and having 2 entrances.

The last emu I saw was on the flats out the back of Frenches Farm in about 1998 whilst walking through to the northern end of Riedle Bay. I also saw deer about the same time in the same location. As far I know both the emus and deer had gone by about 2000.
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