| The Mercury of the
12th July 1884 (p. 4) reports on the early attempts by sheep owners to
form a bounty cooperative:
"Some short time
ago Mr. Cotton, of Swansea, through the columns of The Mercury, suggested
the co-operation of the sheep owners in the various districts to form an
association, and offer a liberal reward for the head of each animal captured.
Such, I am sure, would be an excellent idea, for it would encourage those
that make snaring an occupation to find out the locality which such troublesome
pests infest, and in the end the sheep owners would be greatly benefitted".
By 1886, the impetus
to rid the island state of this perceived pest gathered momentum.
An article in the Mercury newspaper dated the 8th October 1886 (p. 2) records
the parliamentary pressures from sheep owners to legislate:
"THE NATIVE TIGER
- The tiger, or dingo, received a very bad character in the Assembly yesterday;
in fact, there appeared not to be one redeeming point in this animal.
It was described as cowardly, as stealing down on the sheep in the night
and wantonly killing many more than it could eat, as being worthless even
for its skin. Many members declared that these ignoble brutes are
fed on Crown lands, so that the question of their extermination was declared
to be one for the Government. All sheep owners in the House agreed
that "something should be done," as it was asserted that the tigers have
largely increased of late years, in districts where miners had killed off
the kangaroo. The House was divided in opinion as to whether a sum
of money for their extermination should be voted, and finally committee
was granted by the casting vote of the Speaker".
Penny family posing with a thylacine skin in the foreground, circa 1925,
Waratah. During the era of thylacine extermination, it was common
to display thylacine skins in family photographs. Standing at far
right is Clem Penny, who killed
the thylacine in 1924. Courtesy: Moeller Archives.
Joseph Wolf in his book
Sketches" (1861) reflects on the thylacine's long-term survival.
"The Thylacine originally
preyed on Kangaroos and Bandicoots, but since the introduction of sheep
into the colony, it has become more addicted to attack the sheep folds.
Perpetual war is therefore waged against it by the Tasmanian shepherds,
whose determined persecution must eventually lead to its extinction".
The Mercury newspaper
of the 21st August 1884 (p. 3), under the heading "Tiger Extermination",
records the formative meeting of what was to become one of the largest
of the private bounty schemes; that of the Buckland and Spring Bay Tiger
and Eagle Extermination Association:
"At a meeting held
in Buckland on the 14th inst., convened by the Warden, Mr. G. F. Mace,
to consider the question of abatement of ravages by tigers, etc., a majority
of stock owners in the district attended. Letters were also received
from several whom distance or other engagements prevented attending, the
writers all expressing sympathy with the movement and promising support.
After the matter had been fully discussed in all its bearings, it was unanimously
decided that an association be formed, to be called the Buckland and Spring
Bay Tiger and Eagle Extermination Association, Mr. F. Mace being elected
president; Mr. Wm. Turvey, treasurer, and, Mr. John R. Cahill, secretary.
Rules were adopted
for the working of the association, the principal being, that to raise
a sufficient fund every sheep owner pay ½d per head for each sheep
up to 1,000, and ¼d per head for all sheep above 1,000; and that
a reward of £5 be paid for each full grown tiger caught in the district,
and £2 10s, for all cubs equal in size to a full-grown domestic cat,
the skins of all the animals caught to become the property of the association.
Payments to be made by the treasurer on production of the skin by the capturer
or his authorised agent. Also, a reward of £1 for all eagles
destroyed and the heads produced. These and other rules will be printed
and forwarded to all stockowners in the district. A noticeable feature
at the meeting was the presence of several gentlemen who, although at comparatively
safe distance from chances of present loss by tigers, were yet perfectly
willing to contribute towards keeping the foe in check, and assist their
less fortunately-situated neighbours.
After the general
business of the meeting had been disposed of, the question was discussed
of presenting a testimonial to the Messrs. French for the important service
rendered to all sheep owners, not only in the district but throughout the
island, they having within the last three years caught no less than 33
tigers. The justice of this step will at once commend itself to all
reasonable men when it is known that these two brothers, who had taken
up land in the outlying portion of the district, placing sheep thereon,
found themselves at once attacked by the tiger pest, and but for their
indomitable pluck, hard work, and untiring energy, would have failed to
hold their position under the hardships and losses that would have completely
discouraged many men, and led to the abandonment of their holdings.
They have, by fencing, and so snaring, thinned the numbers as to secure
to themselves, although still compelled to use constant vigilance, comparative
security for their flock. But for the efforts of these men, and their
success in killing so many, the tigers would have been much more numerous,
and consequently entailed a, greater tax on stock owners for their destruction".
The presentation of
a petition for the destruction of tigers is recorded in the Minutes of
the House of Assembly, published in the Launceston
Examiner of the 15th August 1885 (p. 3):
"Mr. Gray presented
a petition from land holders and sheep owners of Spring Bay, praying that
some steps be taken to destroy the native tigers now infesting Crown lands
in that district".
The following year,
the Mercury newspaper of the 22nd September 1886 (p. 3) notes a rising
of the bar in the pressure being applied to legislate for the introduction
of a bounty:
"Mr. Lyne to ask
the Attorney General if it is the intention of the Government by new law,
or otherwise to offer rewards for the destruction of the native tiger alias
the Tasmanian dingo".