Woylies On The Way To Being Saved

Woylies On The Way To Being Saved

Western Australia Minister for Environment Bill Marmion

Translocation Success For Critically Endangered Woylies

Victor P Taffa

The translocation of 41 woylies into a predator-proof enclosure in the South-West is showing promising results for the critically endangered species.

Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) released the wild woylies late last year into the 420 ha Perup Sanctuary, east of Manjimup, which is free of foxes and cats.

The Minister visited the sanctuary earlier this year.

“Twenty woylies were radio-collared and DEC has been monitoring the population via radio-tracking and trapping to determine the survival, health and breeding status of the woylies.” Mr. Marmion said.



“The latest results indicate that all but one of these woylies is alive and well. Importantly, all the females are breeding and all body weights are similar to or better than when they were translocated. In addition, 11 new woylies, which were pouching young of the original translocated animals, have been detected and six of these are females that are breeding.”

“DEC is aiming for the translocated woylies to form the basis of a prime population that will breed to about 400 animals in the next six to 11 years. These latest results show the program is on track to achieve that.” Mr. Marmion said.

Other species detected during monitoring included 12 quenda, which have increased significantly in the sanctuary, 54 brushtail possums and a brush-tailed phascogale.

“The removal of predators is having a dramatic and positive effect on vulnerable native species. DEC is working hard to control cats and foxes across key areas of the State through its ‘Western Shield’ wildlife recovery program, which involves extensive baiting and reintroducing animals into their former range.” the Minister said.

“Woylies were once widespread across southern Australia, but were reduced to just three small areas in south-west WA by the 1970s. A fox control program helped woylies bounce back in the mid 1990s, but since 2001 woylie populations have declined dramatically and mysteriously, with some populations shrinking by 99 %.”

“DEC has been investigating this decline as part of a major collaborative research program with Murdoch University, Perth Zoo, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, the South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, Warren Catchment Council, the Federal Government’s Caring For Our Country program and The University of Western Australia.”

“Investigations are focusing on the possible role played by disease, but researchers have so far been unable to isolate a specific cause.” Mr. Marmion said.