and Searches - 1937 to Present-Day
The Examiner article continues:
Trooper Fleming, said the chairman, had reported that several persons had
seen the tiger in the Tarraleah district. One man stated that he
had lived in the Collingwood River area for the past 17 years, and during
that time had seen only three or four tigers in the bush. He had,
however, caught 12 or 14 in his snares, and had often trapped them.
This man expressed the opinion that it would be waste of time trying to
catch tigers in that country at present. Trooper Fleming suggested
that the matter be allowed to stand over until the next hunting season,
as it would then be a much easier matter to trap the animal.
Colonel Lord said
that Sergeant Summers had been authorised to make arrangements for investigations
by a party comprising himself, Trooper Higgs and Mr. Roy Marthick, of Smithton,
an experienced bushman. He expected the cost of this work would be
borne by the board. Trooper Fleming's recommendation that investigations
in the Tarraleah - Mt. Arrowsmith area be left until later had been approved".
Search 1 - April
The Advocate newspaper
of the 24th April 1937 (p. 6), in an article entitled "Search for Tigers",
records the departure of the first expedition:
"Yesterday Sgt. M.
A. Summers, of Wynyard, Trooper G. G. Higgs, of Ulverstone, and Mr. Roy
Murthick, of Smithton, an experienced bushman, with a thorough knowledge
of the country, left for the far North West, where an extensive search
is to be made in an endeavour to ascertain in what numbers
The Sydney Morning Herald,
2nd March 1937 (p. 11).
|Tasmanian Tigers still exist in that
area. The matter was discussed during the week at a meeting of the
Fauna Board, and the decision to investigate the position in the Far North-West
was reached on the recommendation of Sgt. Summers. The move has been
actuated by the grave danger of the Tasmanian Tiger becoming extinct, and
the unique features of the marsupial thereby being lost to science.
It is proposed that the party shall spend from a month to six weeks in
the area, and the expense will be borne by the Fauna Board. The party
will have to traverse some of the roughest country in the State".
| The expedition reported
seeing signs of thylacines particularly in the Arthur-Pieman area inland
as far as the Lofty Ranges and the Donaldson River. They recommended
a sanctuary in the area, but this was not followed up (Guiler
Area 1 (Arthur River, Waratah and Middlesex) [Approximate areas covered
image: Google Earth. Place your pointer over the map to magnify.
| The Mercury newspaper
of the 28th August 1937 (p. 13), notes the Fauna Board's comments following
the first of the organised searches:
"The Animals and
Birds Protection Board intends to continue its searches for Tasmanian tigers,
and at an appropriate time a police party will form an expedition into
the country behind Mount Arrowsmith and the Collingwood River. At
a meeting of the Board at Launceston yesterday the chairman (Col. J. E.
C. Lord) reported that although the result of the Arthur-Pieman River investigation
had been rather negative, he considered the surveys should be proceeded
with. If it were found that many tigers existed in any district,
consideration would be given to proclaiming a sanctuary there. Dr.
J. Pearson said members of the Board were more or less convinced that some
tigers existed, but he questioned whether it was worth incurring great
expense. He had been told that surveys cost comparatively little.
It was mentioned that reports had been received of tigers having been seen
at Kelly Basin in the Port Davey district in south-western Tasmania".
In a letter to the editor
of the Mercury newspaper of the 6th May 1937 (p. 8), headed "A Bush-Whacker's
Experience In the North-West", a bushman identified by the initials
P.A.X. of Circular Head gives the following advice to members of the search
| "Sir, I read with
interest in 'The Mercury' of the scarcity of the marsupial wolf, as discussed
by the Fauna Board. I have had a lot of experience with the wild
animals of Tasmania, having been prospecting, splitting, and bush-whacking
for upwards of 50 years. I think the wolf is just as plentiful now
as he was 50 years ago, but he was never very plentiful, not being a prolific
breeder, and seldom rearing more than one once a year. In this respect
the wolf is unlike the smellful
skunk, known as the bush devil (Sarcophilus
harrisii), or the little packet of ferocity and destruction, the
tiger-cat (Dasyurus maculatus), which rear litters of from
two to six twice a year. Both species are cannibals,
and invariably eat their mother if she does not keep them well supplied
with food as they grow up. Then the strong one eats the weaker one
until generally only a hardy male survives. Why
|the other animal has been
called a wolf or tiger has got me puzzled. Except for his stripes,
he is not a bit like the tiger, and has none of the habits or instincts
of either tiger or wolf, but has a stiff back like all the species of hyena.
Unlike most of the hyena species, however, he is marsupial and does not
howl, but has a short, sharp yelp while hunting. He is not altogether
a night prowler, for I have seen several chases with him after wallaby
during the daytime in the open country along the Arthur River, in the Circular
Head district. While camping on a big plain west of
image is from a 1933
taken at the Beaumaris Zoo (QD) of "Benjamin",
the last known captive thylacine.
|the Arthur River track two years ago,
every night I would hear four or five yelping in different directions,
and some of them would come very close to my camp fire. Their home
is generally in the open country, but they may be met with anywhere.
Last summer while prospecting along the Black River, I sat down to have
a smoke, and a fine specimen came down the bank within a half chain of
me. After looking at me for a while he lapped up some water, got
on a log and crossed the river, and then walked leisurely up the bank on
the other side. My advice to the expeditions that are to be sent
out to search for them is not to bother killing a kangaroo and wearing
out their patience watching it, for tigers will not go near it. If
they would eat a dead animal the Government and the V.D.L. Company would
have poisoned and exterminated them in the Circular Head district 50 years
ago when they were giving £1 a head for them. Probably this
is why they won't live very long in captivity. If these expeditions want
to see if there are any tigers about, let them try the old prospector's
trick when he is running short of meat: Set a hurricane lamp or candle
in the middle of a plain and get back about three chains from it.
Any of the wild animals will come creeping slowly up to it. But if
there is a hyena about he will be the first to come".