They look like cuddly teddy bears – and this cuteness has led to wombats becoming a must-have selfie accessory for visitors to a remote Tasmanian island.

Online, #wombatselfie has become an unlikely trending hashtag.

But Maria Island, located off the eastern coast of Tasmania, is discouraging the practice of posing with marsupials for pictures to protect its large wombat population.

The island has no human residents and visitors are now being asked to sign a pledge to be respectful travellers – which means no selfies with wild animals.


Maria Island's new pledge reads as follows: "I take this pledge to respect and protect the furred and feathered residents of Maria. I will remember you are wild and pledge to keep you this way.

"I promise I will respectfully enjoy the wonders of your beautiful island home, from the wharf, to the Painted Cliffs, to the Rocky bluffs, haunted bays and mystery of Maria's ruins.

"Wombats, when you trundle past me I pledge I will not chase you with my selfie stick, or get too close to your babies. I will not surround you, or try and pick you up. I will make sure I don't leave rubbish or food from my morning tea. I pledge to let you stay wild.

"I vow to explore with a sense of responsibility, adventure and kindness. I will leave your wild island as I found it, and take home memories filled with beauty and my soul filled up with wonder."

John Fitzgerald, the CEO of Tasmania Tourism told CNN Travel that visitors needed to realise that in some parts of Tasmania, animals were not that approachable.

"We're asking people to respect the fact that they're wild animals and respect them for what they are," he said.'

"There was no particular incident that occurred; it's just seeing an increased activity and people wanting to have photos of animals and get up close to them. We're in the age of the selfie, and people want to take selfies in different locations and with people and animals."

As a national park, Maria Island has strict regulations to protect its wild inhabitants.

The park is also home to the ruins of an early Australian penal colony and can be reached by taking a ferry from Triabunna, about 100 kilometres northeast of Hobart.

Maria Island isn't the first tourist destination to implement a pledge for visitors. In 2017, Iceland introduced a tourist pledge asking visitors to respect nature while travelling in the country.

New Zealand soon followed suit and introduced the "Tiaki Promise" in 2018, which urged tourists to tread lightly, leave no trace, respect culture and ''travel with an open mind''.