Numbat conservationists have been left disgusted after disrespectful snappers were reported for destroying parts of the beloved marsupial’s habitat to achieve a pleasing photo. The Numbat Task Force called out “disgusting behaviour” last week following the discovery of a cleared burrow and snapped-off branches in the Dryandra Woodland National Park. Since late August, NTF’s Rob McLean observed people closely photographing the burrow of a numbat family and eventually stopped seeing the babies out and about. “We stopped seeing the babies in the area the burrow was located and thought they were getting a bit too much disturbance so the mother must have moved her young,” he said. However, Mr McLean drove past the area earlier this month and was shocked by what he saw after a closer investigation. “The area around the burrow had been cleared of the small logs and the fallen branches that provided cover for the young ones while at the burrow,” he said. “They removed all branches overhanging, pulled out small plants in the foreground and virtually cleared the area of sticks.” Mr McLean said the habitat disruption was clear by looking at his before and after photos of the area. In the before photo, dead branches and foliage can be seen providing shelter for the numbat but in the after photo the area has been cleared and stripped of branches. The incident was reported to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions on November 15. The department said the intrusion would not affect the entire species population but issued a warning to woodland visitors. “Whilst not likely to affect the population of numbats at Dryandra as a whole, it is important that disturbance of individual sites and getting too close or deliberately stalking numbats to obtain the best photograph does not occur because these types of activities are likely to disrupt their natural daily activity,” a spokesperson said. “Dryandra Woodland is a great place to view a whole suite of species in their natural environment. “DBCA promotes the enjoyment of the natural environment and encourages people visiting the park to keep some distance from these wild creatures.” Mr McLean said he was disappointed and behaviour like this needed to be called out. “I find it pretty disappointing, wildlife photography can be a great tool to help with conservation and raise awareness of species but doing things like that, putting animals at risk you’re trying to protect just for a click of the camera and a photograph, that’s just seven steps too far,” he said. “Wildlife photography is great but has to be done ethically.” Mr McLean said the best advice for snapping wildlife was ensuring people “didn’t impact the animal’s natural behaviour”. “It’s a pointless photo because you’re not getting an animal in its natural behaviour, you’re getting an animal stressed out, it’s not the right thing to do and if we don’t call it out it and it continues, it has an adverse affect,” he said. “It gives wildlife photographers a bad name and upsets the animals we’re meant to care about, love and want to protect.” He said it was the first time he’d seen impact “to this degree” on a numbat’s habitat. “Unless DBCA catch somebody in the act, there’s very little you can do but by bringing attention to it and making the photo worthless people won’t share it,” he said. “Whoever did this needs to be called out by us all for this appalling behaviour.” Offenders can be fined up to $400,000 for the disturbance of endangered fauna or flora under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.