Hon Donna Faragher MEd (Hons) BA (Hons) GradDipEd JP MLC

Hon Donna Faragher MEd (Hons) BA (Hons) GradDipEd JP MLC

Former Minister for Planning; Disability Services

    New enclosure protects critically-endangered woylies

    10/11/2010 12:00 AM
     

    In a bid to boost the species’ chances of survival, the first three of up to 40 critically-endangered woylies were last night released into a new 420ha predator-free enclosure in the State’s south-west.

     

    Environment Minister Donna Faragher said the three female woylies would be joined by others in the coming months to form the basis of a prime population expected to breed to about 400 animals in the next six to 11 years.

     

    “The new population of woylies will be protected from the threat of feral cats and foxes within Perup Sanctuary, located east of Manjimup,” Mrs Faragher said.

     

    “In the next four to five weeks, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) will be trapping wild woylies in the local Perup and Kingston areas and releasing them behind the predator-proof fence.

     

    “Before being released, the woylies will undergo a laboratory assessment by wildlife veterinarians from Perth Zoo to make sure they are fit and healthy and ensure the strongest woylies are selected to establish the best insurance population of the species.

     

    “Another five animals trapped in the area will be sent to Perth Zoo and another eight to the Native Animal Rescue Centre in Malaga for scientific research into woylie diseases and to become part of the zoo’s captive breeding program.”

     

    The $1.5million in State Government funding for the establishment of the woylie insurance population at Perup Sanctuary includes $500,000 from the Government’s Natural Resources Management program as well as $100,000 from Perth Zoo to facilitate both the Perup and Perth Zoo captive populations.

     

    “Construction of the fence began last year in conjunction with vegetation monitoring, fauna assessments and hand-baiting to remove foxes as part of the process to turn the area into a woylie sanctuary,” the Minister said.

     

    “Following extensive groundwork and monitoring, scientists confirmed last month that the last of the feral cats had been removed from the enclosure, ensuring it was safe for the woylies.”

     

    Mrs Faragher said the woylie population had bounced back from near extinction once before and taking action now would give it a chance to do so again.

     

    “Once widespread across about 40 per cent of Australia, the woylie was reduced in range to just three small areas of south-west WA by the 1970s,” she said.

     

    “The species responded very well to conservation management based on fox control and was removed from endangered species’ lists in 1996.

     

    “However, since 2001, woylie populations have declined dramatically, with some populations shrinking by 97 per cent, and the species was subsequently re-listed as threatened with a ranking of critically endangered.  

     

    “Woylies are one of the 16 native animal species identified as a priority for recovery by the State Threatened Species Council.

     

    “DEC has been investigating the declines in the species in a major collaborative research program, but has so far been unable to isolate the specific cause or causes. Investigations are continuing into the role played by disease and feral cats.

     

    “It is hoped this new population will not only be protected from feral predators but also enable scientists to enhance our understanding of what has caused the woylies to decline and help bring them back from the brink of extinction.”

     

    Key collaborators in the project include experts at Murdoch University; Perth Zoo; Australian Wildlife Sanctuary; South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage; and The University of Western Australia.

     

    Minister's office - 9213 7250