and Searches - 1937 to Present-Day
Guiler Search 4 (1963-64):
The last of the major
Guiler expeditions was funded by the Animals & Birds Protection Board
with a small grant of AU$2000 from the Tasmanian Government. The
five man team consisted of: Dr. Eric Guiler, Inspector George Hanlon, Wildlife
Officers Reuben Hooper and Ken Harmon, and a professional bushman and snarer,
The goal of the expedition
was to establish, by capture and subsequent photography, whether thylacines
still existed in the Tasmanian bush. This would be achieved by extensive
snaring, using treadles and springers activating a leg snare which would
not harm the animal, and each snare would be examined every day.
It was not the team's intention to keep any thylacine caught in captivity,
only to obtain photographic proof of its existence.
Guiler Search 4 (Woolnorth,
Green's Creek & Balfour).
Satellite image: Google
The team set off in
October 1963, with the first of the expedition's camps being established
at Green's Creek on the West Coast (now in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation
Area). Historically, the area was well-known as supporting relatively
large populations of thylacines. The team worked the Green's Creek
- Peddar River area with a line of 700 snares, but after a few unproductive
weeks decided to move north to Woolnorth in December.
| As with
Green's Creek, thylacines were once plentiful in the Woolnorth area, and
alleged sightings had been recorded in recent years. Four snare lines
totalling some 700 snares were set together with a further 100 snares around
a suspect lair. Once again, the team's efforts produced no concrete
In April 1964, the expedition
returned to the West Coast and lines of snares were set to the Northeast
and Southwest of Balfour. During this time, three of the five man
team sustained injuries of varying severity, and it was decided to conclude
1964, Dr. Guiler was featured in a short film entitled "The Tasmanian
Tiger", produced by the Department of Film Production (Tasmania), and
presented by Mobil Oil Australia. Click the film icon above to view
The 1963-64 expedition's
base camp at Balfour.
Guiler notes his thoughts
on why the expedition failed in a letter to the Animals & Birds Protection
Board in his capacity as Chairman:
"Each snare set for
one night represented a chance of catching a thylacine and thus a total
of 175,000 chances were used to achieve our object, and it is with regret
that I must announce our failure. This was not on account of any
lack of perseverance of effort or lack of hard work by those concerned
in the field project, but is attributable to no luck. We still found
evidence of thylacines in the areas in which we worked but none of those
animals were caught in the snares. I feel that it is only a matter
of luck and/or perseverance before a thylacine is either caught or photographed.
No previous expedition worked for as long or on such a large scale as this
and our absence of success emphasises the scarcity of this animal and the
difficulties inherent in any program for its conservation. It also
emphasises the vital need to do all that we can to ensure its survival
by a program of large reserves".