Woman 'shocked' to find plastic in endangered eastern quoll scats
A Tasmanian woman says she was shocked to discover pieces of blue plastic in quoll scats left around her property, with a wildlife expert calling for people to be more mindful of how they dispose of their waste.
Elaine McDonald said she often spotted quoll scats on her property at Nichols Rivulet in Cygnet, south of Hobart, but that this was the first time she had sighted plastic intertwined in it.
"I was just shocked, of course, how could that happen? Because I never have any garbage out," she said.
"It is upsetting, because they breed under my house, and I see the baby quolls disperse and you just always hope that they disperse successfully.
"And this really makes you wonder."
Earlier this month, Bruny Island resident Maxine Hindell shared a photo of a dead quoll with its head stuck in a cream container at Apollo Bay on the island's north.
"It never occurred to me that a quoll would get its head stuck in a bottle," she said.
"The beach [Apollo Bay] is along the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, so we get a lot of plastic waste wash up, and we're near fish farms, so we get a lot of waste from them," she said.
"[But] it's not like there's whole piles of it — there was just that one bottle [on the day I found it]."
Ms Hindell said it showed the impact waste could have on wildlife.
"The person who threw that away would never have thought that a quoll would get its head stuck in it and die," she said.
"It was really sad. It must have been an awful way to go. It was a horrible thing to see."
Food packaging too tempting for animals
Menna Jones, an associate professor at the University of Tasmania, has worked with quolls and Tasmanian devils for more than 30 years, and said it was unusual to see plastic in quoll scats.
"The amount of plastic waste in scats, we honestly don't see that much of that. However, we do see it with Tasmanian devils a lot," she said.
"Plastic waste can be eaten by wildlife if it is tainted by food and food odour.
"In this case it has passed it all the way through, but it can cause an obstruction and result in the death of an animal."
She said it was a good reminder to dispose of plastic waste mindfully.
"The quoll that put its head inside to lick up whatever food and got stuck and died, that's very unfortunate and it is really irresponsible of the people who discarded their rubbish in the manner that they did," she said.
"Our quolls and devils are listed as endangered, so we do need to be very careful to take good care of them."