Peter Foss

Peter Foss


    New list of threatened fauna contains significant changes to help wildlife

    30/04/1996 12:00 AM



    Western Australia's latest list of threatened and specially protected fauna contains some significant changes that will help the State's native wildlife, Environment Minister Peter Foss said today.


    The new list included one species - Gilbert's potoroo - that had been presumed extinct for 125 years while the woylie had been removed as it no longer was considered at risk of extinction.


    Mr Foss said the list was important as it helped identify priorities for species in need of special conservation measures.


    The latest list included 160 native animals that are now specially protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act.


    These included 106 animals considered threatened with extinction, 13 presumed extinct and 41 listed as specially protected because of international agreements or because they were at risk of illegal taking.


    Mr Foss said the Gilbert's potoroo had been transferred from the presumed extinct list to the threatened schedule. The species was rediscovered at Two People's Bay in December, 1994.


    The woylie was removed from the list and classed as "conservation dependent" under World Conservation Union criteria. This recognised that ongoing management such as predator control was needed to prevent the species again becoming threatened.


    Mr Foss said 13 other species also had been transferred to the threatened list. Several of them had been transferred from the list of specially protected species.


    Species added to the list included the sei and fin whales, northern and southern marsupial moles, central rock rat, quokka, Baudin's cockatoo, Carnaby's cockatoo and the recently discovered ‘harlequin frog'.


    "The quokka was listed as threatened because although it is abundant on Rottnest Island the mainland population has dwindled significantly," the Minister said.


    "Surveys by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) of quokka habitat around Dwellingup have shown the species has declined from occupying 15 swamps to only three since 1970.


    "CALM surveys also show the species had reduced in numbers in the Manjimup area.


    "The species justifies special protection, particularly as its new listing will also provide more of a deterrent to people who harm quokkas at Rottnest.


    "The maximum penalty for people convicted of harming listed animals such as quokkas is $10,000 compared with $4000 for species not on the specially protected list.


    "CALM's much expanded feral predator control program - Western Shield, will be crucial to ensuring populations such as quokkas which once ranged as far north as Moore River recover and again become firmly established in the South-West."


    Carnaby's and Baudin's cockatoos were transferred from the specially protected list because of concerns over their low numbers and low breeding potential.


    Mr Foss said he accepted a recommendation from the Threatened Fauna Scientific Advisory Committee that an integrated research project into these two cockatoos and the forest red-tailed black cockatoo should be developed as a priority.


    The project would look at the processes that threatened the abundance of the three species.


    Species removed from the list along with the woylie included the dusky hopping mouse, Gould's mouse and six bird species including the crested shrike-tit, rufous owl and red-tailed tropic-bird.


    Mr Foss said some of these species were removed because further surveys had revealed they either did not previously occur in WA or had been misidentified as a separate species.


    One species, the short-tailed hopping mouse, had been added to the presumed extinct list. A study of sub-fossils had indicated the species' former range had included WA.


    The new list, which is scheduled to be gazetted this week, was approved by the Minister on recommendations of the Threatened Fauna Scientific Advisory Committee which had been endorsed by the National Parks and Nature Conservation Authority.


    Mr Foss said the advisory committee would soon be replaced by a new Threatened Species Scientific Committee that would comprise independent experts who would advise him on the conservation status of native plants and animals.


    The main function of the new committee would be to conduct annual reviews of the lists of threatened and specially protected species.


    Media contact: Peter Harris (09) 321 2222 or (09) 222 9595 or Gordon Wyre, CALM (09) 334 0420.