Environment Minister David Templeman today officially opened a $425,000 expansion to the Department of Environment and Conservation’s bait manufacturing facility at Harvey, a crucial part of the battle to save the State’s native mammals.
Mr Templeman praised the inventiveness of the staff who spent five years testing and refining sausage-shaped baits, which have succeeded in killing introduced predators without harming Western Australia’s native fauna.
“In the past 100 years, the fox and the feral cat have been involved in the extinction or decline of native mammal species across WA,” he said.
“A total of 11 species has become extinct, five species have disappeared from the mainland but remain on a few offshore islands, and 23 species remain on the mainland and are threatened with extinction because their populations have declined significantly.
“Small mammal species are now being rescued from the brink of predator-related extinction thanks to the development of innovative baits at this facility, which produces more than 800,000 fox baits and 425,000 feral cat baits each year.”
Native mammals are immune to baits containing the toxin sodium fluoroacetate, which occurs naturally in a plant called Gastrolobium, or poison peas, however, introduced predators succumb to this same toxin, which is contained in the baits produced at Harvey.
Four times a year more than four million hectares of national parks, State forests, nature reserves and former pastoral leases from Esperance to Karratha, are baited.
“Because of the valuable work being carried out at this facility, many small mammals have been reintroduced to areas where they had once been extinct while in other areas, existing populations have steadily risen without the threat of predators,” the Minister said.
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