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Wildlife over social life - or at least social media.

Wombat

Wombats being chased around by selfie sticks, picnic lunches being fed to wallabies, and tweeting seabirds on Twitter: tourists to Tasmania are obsessed with getting the perfect snap with our furry and feathered natives. 

But authorities are attempted to re-educate tourists on allowing animals to stay wild. 

Director of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Greg Irons, says people generally aren't being malicious or meaning ill harm to an animal.

"They just don't realise that it can affect them," he said. 

He blames a surge in unwanted affection for the drawcard animals as being propelled by social media. 

"There's that need to get that one photo that's better than the next, or have that one experience that you can show of to the world that is better than anyone else," he said.

"But what that can lead to is people being a bit irresponsible with wildlife at times."

He's reminding tourists that the animals are wild and don't enjoy being close to people. 

"Forcing them to do that in order to get a good photograph or selfie just isn't really appropriate."

"A lot of people want to feed animals or use food to make an animal come closer to them and that can result in all sorts of dramas," he said.

"Last time I was up at Freycinet and I saw a wallaby with a peanut butter sandwich being offered to it by an unknowing tourist just trying to get close for a photo."

Mr Irons cautions that while all animals are different, some older wombats can be bitey or aggressive. 

He says the best method is to stand a comfortable distance to a wombat and just wait.

"If the wombat is comfortable enough it will walk very close to you or just past you. To me that is very acceptable, it's when people force themselves upon the animal that I think it becomes an issue."

"It's just about thinking about the animals point of view and what it would be like for them and showing a bit of common sense."

Mr Irons has applauded the implementation of a pledge for tourists to allow wildlife to remain wild on Maria Island on the state's East Coast. 

The pledge will read in multiple languages:

"I take this pledge to respect and protect the furred and feathered residents of Maria. I will remember you are wild and pledge to keep you this way.

"I promise I will respectfully enjoy the wonders of your beautiful island home, from the wharf, to the Painted Cliffs, to the rocky bluffs, haunted bays and mystery of Maria's ruins.

"Wombats, when you trundle past me, I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you or try and pick you up.

"I will make sure I don't leave rubbish or food from my morning tea.

"I pledge to let you stay wild."

The initiative has been put into place by Orford and Triabunna businesses with the assistance of Parks and Wildlife.

Mr Irons says it's important to ensure animals remain comfortable in their own environment. Otherwise, they may leave that area. 

The pledge puts the onus on tourists to do the right thing, he argues. 

"If you've got a whole lot of people that have taken that pledge and you see someone that is doing the wrong thing I would like to think that the community can say 'you know mate, you're not meant to do that, we've all pledged not to do it.'"

"If we're going to the great experiences and seeing that amazing wildlife then it's up to everyone to take responsibility for their actions and say 'well you know I'm not going to be the one that winds up seeing an area banned for people because I'm doing the wrong thing."

Mr Irons says there are far too many instances of people doing the wrong thing just because they believe they won't get caught. 

He says the only answer to preserve wildlife in some areas is to implement human-free beaches. 

"The way I see it if you have an area where there is an endangered species and people are doing the wrong thing and their actions are potentially causing an impact on that animal then there's no choice but to stop people going there, and that's a real shame in my book."

He uses the example of a hooded plover, if a human comes within twenty metres of its nest just once it will abandon the eggs straight away. 

"I understand that everyone loves going to the beach, great Australian tradition and all those things, but a beach is a habitat."

"If we have some beaches that are absolutely fine for people to go to, can have dogs running around and doing their thing, yes there is going to be an impact," he said. "But to counter that if there are other areas we know are environmentally sensitive, where there are sensitive breeding grounds and a ban on people then you're not relying on people not quietly letting their dog of the leash because it's early morning and no one is there."

Mr Irons says there are multiple opportunities for human-free beaches, used only by researchers and conservation groups.

"I'm not talking about putting eighty percent of them as human-free beaches, but maybe picking 10-12 key areas for these precious species dotted in different spaces around the state.


 MAIN IMAGE: Mark Gleeson on Pexels.