Update The Return March 2017
On our return six month later it was sunny and the creek was dry. Four cameras were setup in this area and after six month many images were captured. All animals could be identified except one. The striking part of this image is that the animal appears to have stripes and in most defiantly a marsupial.
I was able to locate a number of foot prints in the creek bed near to the spot that the strong odor had been and about 200 yards from were the above image was taken. The toes are elongated but the pad was not clear. Clearly it was not a wombat (see image B.) and to large to be a devils.
One of the primary locations that we are searching is in Waratah. This is a historically important location regarding Thylacines. One of the last animals captured was here in 1930 by the Delphin brothers and it was the location of one the first major official Tasmanian government expeditions. It is predominately a heavy forested region and much of the area remains unlogged with ancient trees, some over two thousand years old. It was in this location that we may well have had an encounter with a Thylacine. Whilst in a wonderfully charming old wooded area, looking for camera setup locations, we encountered a very strong musk smell not unlike the north American skunk. This is significant, as Thylacines were known to have a strong oder. We know this from Tasmanian bushmen who nick named them “hyenas” because of their stench. Tasmania had sent a number of people to South Africa of to fight in the Boar War from 1899 to 1902, it is here that they came across the brown hyena. Tasmania does not have a skunk nor any known animal that resembles the strong musk smell of one. The question we have is what does a brown Hyena smell like? There are no brown hyenas in north American zoos. I have contacted the Berlin Zoo, who are do have one and the Kruger national park in South Africa but as yet have had no response. We are very familiar with the north American skunk smell, living in Texas and having our dogs sprayed on numerous occasions. The oder we encountered in Waratah was strong, not as intense as the skunk but very similar. The forests in Tasmania can carry a natural musk smell, this we came across on a number of occasions but that particular oder is much milder and subtle. It is very possible that some remaining Thylacines bed down in the deep forests of Waratah during winter and then become more active when spring arrives. We have left a number of cameras in this location and look forward to there results.
We found the above unknown bones picked clean in the same location as the oder, a devil would have consumed them.
It seems the Tasmanian devil can omit a foul odor when stressed. This has been described as a decay-death like odor and not a musky odor. I need to do more research into these odors. Unfortunately writing to zoos, parks is of little help as they seem not to have the time to reply or ask a keeper other then suggesting a general mammals book.
Some researchers have challenged the idea that the thylacine has a strong odor, pointing to the fact that stealth predators in general would not be able to hunt well as their prey would flee and also captured animal records did not reflect a strong smell. Never the less there are accounts of strong smells linked with the tiger and many recent encounters relate to a strong smell. It could be possible that thylacines use scent to mark their territories through scat and/or urine as this is a common practice with stealth hunters.