Feral cats threatening endangered species on Kangaroo Island after bushfires

Kangaroo Island’s endangered species are “looking at extinction” after the deadly summer bushfires unless more is done to eradicate feral cats which are preying on those that survived, conservationists warn.

For more than 20 years, Barry Green — known as the “KI cat man” — has made it his mission to rid the island of feral cats.

He has trapped, killed and skinned about 1,500 feral cats turning their skin into stubby holders, bags and other quirky household items which he sells.

He keeps a record in his notebook of each cat he has killed and turned his American River home into a museum-like shrine to raise awareness about feral cats.

“I’ve spent a lot of money chasing cats around the island,” Mr Green said.

The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is one of many endangered species at risk from feral cats.(Supplied)

Mr Green has been widely recognised for his two decades of conservation work, including by Natural Resources Kangaroo Island, as the island’s feral cats maim threatened species including the Kangaroo Island dunnart, echidna and bandicoot.

They also cause about $2 million worth of damage to the sheep industry each year.

But he admits he is slowing down and concedes eradicating feral cats was getting harder after recent bushfires.

“They’re breeding faster than they’re dying off,” he said.

“Once bush starts to grow back again, and it has already, they’ll start moving back and start spreading out so I guess now’s the time to really concentrate.”

A man wearing a feral cat fur hat with a white beard stares blankly down the camera
Barry Green has led the fight against feral cats on Kangaroo Island for years, but says he doesn’t hate all cats – only the feral ones.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Protecting the native stronghold

Kangaroo Island is one of five islands in Australia identified by the Federal Government to become feral cat free.

A government-funded feral cat eradication program has been underway since 2015 with the island meant to be free of feral cats by 2030.

But the project leader at Natural Resources KI, Dr James Smith, said he had his “fingers crossed” they would deliver on that plan.

A road winding between fire-damaged land and trees
The regrowth of bushfire-ravaged parts of Kangaroo Island is welcome for locals and also feral cats, who can use growth to hide.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

So far, eradication work has taken place on a small pocket on the Dudley Peninsula, on the island’s east.

“There’s been a lot of work done establishing some background information, how many cats there are, what cats do in different landscapes … and what’s the best way to trap them.

“We’ve now removed cats from about 28 square kilometres and we’re slowly expanding that.

“We really need to make sure that we’ve learned all our lessons and we get it right on the Dudley; the rest of the island is about 10 times that size so we’ve just got to take our time and make sure we get it right.”

Fence posts without wire trail off into the distance on a green hill toward a blue lake
A cat barrier-fence being built on the east of Kangaroo Island is behind schedule.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

Part of the work involved building a cat barrier-fence which was meant to be finished in June but Dr Smith said was still some months off being completed.

“There’s been lots of delays, lots of negotiations and renegotiations not only with landholders but also with contractors, to get things right it just takes a long time.”

Locals tired of waiting

Heritage landowner Lara Tilbrook is fed up of waiting and feared it was all too little, too late.

There is currently no feral cat eradication work being done on the western end of the island — an area hit hard by bushfires in January, and where many threatened species, including the dunnart and echidna, live.

“I feel like we’ve just been going around in circles for years now,” Ms Tilbrook said.

“Kangaroo Island is a stronghold for threatened species nationally, not just in this state, obviously they’re predating on the native animals and really putting huge pressure on threatened species.

A woman stands outside wearing a broad-brim hat looking blankly past the camera in front of a yellow tree
Kangaroo Island local Lara Tilbrook is worried that the efforts to eradicate feral cats has come too late for many threatened species.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

“We’re just looking at extinction, and extinction is forever.”

Ms Tilbrook, who owns 400 acres of heritage bushland on the north-west end of Kangaroo Island, hired a drone and shooter after the summer bushfires to hunt the feral cats on her and her neighbour’s property.

“After the fires I felt so sad and It was despair that brought me to trial the drones and work with a team to see if we could use the infrared, the thermal drone imaging, to hunt out the cats and really focus in and eradicate that way,” she said.

“We need to use multiple tools to ensure feral cats are eradicated from Kangaroo Island forever.”

Dr Smith it was hard to tell how if cat numbers had been reduced after the fire but there was work being done to try and assess that.

The island’s mayor, Michael Pengilly, said he was “critical of the speed of the program” but still held out hope feral cats could be eradicated from the island if enough work was done.

“There’s just been too much bureaucracy and not enough things happening.

“This is an enormously expensive program, it’s a prototype and we hope it works, it needs to work.”

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Endangered species: Canadian small oil and gas companies under pressure to merge or die

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The same issue has not plagued the larger companies in the Canadian oilpatch, with Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc. and Husky Energy Inc. tapping the debt market with little trouble this year, Chari said.

It’s the smaller producers that are feeling the heat from impatient bankers and financiers.

“In terms of returns for both equity and debt-holders from energy companies has been so poor for a number of years that the market doesn’t necessarily have the confidence that these companies will be good stewards of their capital,” Chari said.

It’s the smaller producers that are feeling the heat from impatient bankers and financiers

As creditors’ patience runs out, a handful of opportunistic acquirers, such as Waterous, are buying up assets at bargain basement valuations.

“Consolidation has never been more urgently needed than right now,” Waterous said in a recent interview, noting that small energy companies have been shut out of both debt and equity markets and without access to capital, they are “effectively orphaned businesses.”

“These orphaned businesses need to come together,” he said. “We’ve been very aggressive in doing this.”

Waterous, who divides his time between Banff and Calgary, has been advising energy firms on deals for decades, with his own advisory called Waterous & Co. beginning in 1991. In 2005 he sold the firm to Scotiabank to create Scotia Waterous. He left Scotia in 2017 to set up the private equity Waterous Energy Fund. And after years of watching investments in the Canadian energy sector decline, he says there are major opportunities for consolidation.

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Endangered bee doesn’t warrant ‘critical habitat’

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What this critically endangered bird tells us about Australia’s failing environment protection laws

When Sean Dooley started birdwatching as a kid in the 80s the swift parrot was already rare.

“It’s a beautiful bird. I remember around that time it was said that there were maybe 8,000,” he says.

He says there now could be as few as 1,000 left in the wild.

It’s classed as “critically endangered” — one step from extinction.

An independent review released last month found Australia’s environment is getting worse under the laws designed to protect it.

Mr Dooley, from conservation group BirdLife Australia, considers the swift parrot one of the victims of the laws.

‘Death by a thousand cuts’

The swift parrot breeds in Tasmania then migrates north in search of ironbark forests.(Supplied: Chris Tzaros)

Mr Dooley says the swift parrot is a “tricky devil to preserve”.

They migrate from Tasmania to Victoria and feed on the eucalypt blossoms of blue gum trees. In drought years, when the trees don’t flower, the parrots will head as far as coastal or northern New South Wales and even to Queensland.

He says that range makes them vulnerable to the flaws in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

“The way [the Act] currently works is they don’t really take into consideration cumulative impacts,” he tells ABC RN’s Rear Vision.

Sean Dooley with binoculars in hand stands in front of a yellow-flowering wattle tree
Mr Dooley says the swift parrot is a “tricky devil to preserve”.(Supplied)

But he says it all adds up.

“You see a bit of bush being cleared here, it doesn’t meet the criteria of having a significant impact, and a housing development there, or some logging in another site, and the lights go out for that bird across the landscape,” he says.

“Each incident isn’t deemed serious enough, and so the swift parrot has been declining throughout the period of the EPBC Act.”

Lesley Hughes, a professor of biology at Macquarie University, agrees that the Act tends to assess threats to a species in a vacuum.

“It’s the classic death by a thousand cuts. You could lose the species because each of those threats have been assessed independently rather than at the same time.”

Young swift parrot.
A young swift parrot, a species classified as “critically endangered”.(Supplied: Dr Dejan Stojanovic/ANU)

Mr Dooley says the Act should also restrict logging of the swift parrot’s habitat, but instead other agreements between state and federal governments can take precedence.

“As long as the states say that they are considering the impact of an endangered species like the swift parrot, then there is literally nothing that the EPBC Act can do to intervene.”

‘A state of steady decline’

When the laws were passed by the Howard Government in 1999, not all environmental groups were happy — but for others, it was better than nothing.

James Pittock, an environmental scientist at Australian National University, says after decades of “environmental wars” many wanted the Commonwealth to step in and regulate logging, but it was something neither side of politics would sign up to.

“My view and the view of other groups was that it would be very regrettable if logging operations weren’t regulated, but if we got an improvement by having the other 90 per cent or more of the country better protected, then that was a compromise worth accepting in the interim.”

Ten years later the first independent assessment of the Act was scathing.

Rachel Walmsley from the NGO the Environmental Defenders Office says the review — which is required every decade under the law — actually recommended the EPBC be repealed and rewritten.

“The 71 recommendations that the Hawke review came up with, unfortunately, never really saw the light of day. They have languished on a dusty departmental shelf.”

She says the law is fundamentally flawed.

“We have an Act that doesn’t prevent extinction, even though that is the primary national Act to conserve our unique biodiversity,” Ms Walmsley says.

“There have been about 6,500 projects referred under the Act in 20 years, but there has only ever been a handful of refusals, and the Act has been really ineffective in actually delivering environmental outcomes.”

Now, 10 more years on, another review is in.

Professor Graeme Samuel’s interim report has found the laws are ineffective, complex, costly to business and provide little benefit to the environment.

“We are seeing our environment in a state of steady decline over the 20 years since the Act has been in operation,” Professor Samuel says.

“It not only doesn’t achieve its environmental outcomes, but it impedes appropriate, and I mean appropriate, business development.”

Section of logged forest near Bendoc in East Gippsland
A section of logged forest near Bendoc in East Gippsland, Victoria.(ABC News: Michael Slezak)

Where we’re at now

Professor Hughes says Australia’s made some records we shouldn’t be proud of.

“Australia currently has the worst rate of mammal extinction anywhere in the world,” she says.

“A couple of years ago, WWF International put out a report that listed the worst deforestation hotspots in the world. I think there were 11. Australia was the only developed country on that list.”

Australia’s also the first country to see a mammal become extinct due to climate change.

University of Queensland environmental scientist Martine Maron says the Bramble Cay melomys was lost to storm surges and sea level rise on the small Great Barrier Reef island where it lived.

Bramble Cay melomys
The Bramble Cay melomys has been declared extinct.(Supplied)

The Christmas Island pipistrelle, a small insect-eating bat, and the Christmas Island forest skink have also disappeared.

“We knew they were in trouble but we didn’t act in time, and so it’s too late for them,” she says.

“But there are so many more species that are really on the brink that we can still act for and we need coordinated national action to achieve.”

Gump, a female Christmas Island forest skink.
The last of her kind, this Christmas Island forest skink, named Gump, died in 2014.(Supplied by Director of National Parks)

Professor Maron says island species are especially vulnerable.

“The species that are in trouble on the mainland have been able to hang on longer, but for how much longer is the question,” she says

“Unfortunately every tree we put back, every bit of habitat we restore … is undone many times over by land clearing, by ongoing loss of habitat, and those of the sorts of situations that the Act has simply not been able to get a handle on.”

Other countries, it seems, have done better.

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe says the United States’ Endangered Species Act has been remarkably successful, compared to Australia’s efforts.

“Ninety per cent of species are meeting their recovery milestones … and it is estimated that 227 extinctions have been prevented, which is incredible, compared with Australia where you’ve only really got one or two animals that have ever come off the EPBC because they’ve been recovered by conservation action.”

She says the US law has strong safeguards, and the ability for communities to force the government to the table “and actually say to them we’re going to take you to court to make sure you do your job”.

“They’ve [also] got this really strong threshold that basically says once a species is endangered, you can’t harm it and you can’t harm its habitat or the places that it needs to survive, to breed, to feed, to thrive,” she says.

“And importantly they define its habitat as not only the place that it needs to live now, but also the habitat that it needs to recover.”

Doing the work

Professor Hughes says one area where the laws fail is actually ensuring the work to save the species gets done.

She says when a species is listed as threatened a recovery plan is supposed to be written.

“What has happened is that we have many, many species and communities listed that don’t have plans written at all.”


But she says even when there is a recovery plan, there’s then no obligation for it to be funded.

“The Act looks after the first part of the process, but it doesn’t actually oblige the government to mandate the actions and to resource them effectively to mean that the species actually recovers,” she says,

“Over the years, especially over the last decade, the amount of real dollars spent on saving threatened species in particular and environmental protection more generally has continued to decline.”

Glossy Black Cockatoo pair
A recovery plan saw Kangaroo Island’s glossy black cockatoo bounce back, though recent fires have posed a threat.(ABC News)

Mr Dooley says there have been instances where recovery plans have saved threatened species.

He says the Kangaroo Island glossy black cockatoo and the Norfolk Island green parrot both bounced back — but conservationists have had to fight for funding when the money dried up.

“We know that conservation actions work, but they have to be resourced, they have to be based on good data, based on good monitoring, and we just don’t even get that for most of our threatened species,” he says.

“Currently of the 71 threatened birds on the EPBC Act, only six of them have up-to-date recovery plans that are resourced.”

The future

The Government is now considering the Samuel review interim report, but has already ruled out the recommendation for a “strong independent cop” to oversee the environment laws.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the Government didn’t want “additional layers of bureaucracy”.

“The Government will take steps to strengthen compliance functions and ensure that all bilateral agreements with states and territories are subject to rigorous assurance monitoring,” she said.

The Government does support a move to devolve federal approvals to the states to create a “one-stop shop”, something that concerns Professor Hughes.

“What we are all concerned with is that the Government will cherry-pick those recommendations that they can use to make things easier for developments to take place, which will actually give us worse environmental conditions than before,” she says.

“Things could actually get worse rather than get better.”

Professor Pittock says there should be stronger national standards and that the states should change their laws to match.

“We need better information systems so that it is clearer to everybody where the places are of environmental importance that should be left alone versus those where development activities should occur,” he says.

“There is a need for more matters of national environmental significance to control things like the clearing of native vegetation. Australia is one of the top five countries undertaking deforestation in the world, it’s a disgrace.”

Professor Samuel’s final report will be published in October.

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Canberra school boys caught driving dangerously on endangered grasslands identified as possible sacred site

Four teenagers caught drifting and doing circlework on a possible sacred Aboriginal site near the Australian War Memorial in Canberra have been fined and had their cars impounded.

The boys, three from Daramalan College and another from Dickson College, were caught by police on Friday as they attempted to leave the site.

Locals said they had called police at least a dozen times in the past year warning that P-platers were using the grasslands near the for dangerous driving, damaging an endangered habitat and risking their own safety.

The land is under assessment by the federal Environment Department for its significance as a sacred Ngambri site.

On Friday, a resident told the ABC that he saw several boys were once again at the site, drinking and swapping cars as they took turns skidding across the wet grass.

He said he became concerned when a car scraped a tree.

A blue sedan skids along wet grass and pavement, as several cockatoos take flight
One witness reported a Subaru lost control while drifting and hit a tree.(Supplied)

“It came out off Quick Street … it spun around on there and went onto the footpath,” he said.

Police officers caught the cars as they were leaving, and fined four of the boys for driving on a nature strip, not displaying P-plates, failing to stop at a stop sign, and improper control of a vehicle.

“Police interviewed all the occupants of the vehicles, and after receiving assistance from the occupants, four of the drivers were issued with Traffic Infringement Notices,” a spokesman for ACT Policing said.

“Further investigations into similar activity identified another driver who has been responsible for similar behaviour in the same area between November 2019 to August 2020.”

Two boys in school uniforms run towards a car drifting on grassland.
The high school boys were seen running between cars as they drifted, reportedly taking turns to drive.(Supplied)

Police said none of the identified drivers returned positive alcohol breath tests.

The resident, who had made multiple complaints to police in the past 12 months — including the previous Friday when a separate car was seen drifting — said government inaction had led to more teenagers abusing the site.

“When one of them, the white four-wheel drive, starts to show it off, the others say ‘well okay, that’s where you can do this kind of thing’, because the ACT Government does nothing, basically.”

A red sedan drives along grasslands.
A red Audi was reported a week before the four teenagers were caught at the site, seen driving dangerously on the grasslands.(Supplied)

ACT Policing said it was investigating other reports into similar behaviour at the site.

“The area is identified as an area of significance to the traditional owners,” the spokesman said.

“Police are urging members of the public with any information regarding dangerous driving of vehicles in this area to contact Crime Stoppers.”

‘Deep-seated frustration’ at destruction of claimed Aboriginal site

The site has been identified by the ACT Government as an important habitat for several endangered flora and fauna, but the grasslands have been significantly damaged by vandalism.

Earlier this year, the ABC reported that claims the land was also a sacred Ngambri site, used for men’s business, had been ignored.

Ngambri man Shane Mortimer, who raised the claim to the site’s Aboriginal significance, said he felt the land had been disregarded.

“It’s a deep-seated frustration, it’s an intergenerational frustration. The land really does need to be cared for,” Mr Mortimer said.

A man wearing stands in a clearing surrounded by rocky outcrops, with Parliament House visible in the distance.
Ngambri man Shane Mortimer said the grasslands had been ‘obliterated’ by P-platers vandalising the site.(ABC News: Jake Evans)

Daramalan College said it could not comment on issues concerning individual students.

However Mr Mortimer said the school had agreed to organise for its Year 12 students to visit the site and learn about its significance.

“We really have to look now for that opportunity out of adversity,” Mr Mortimer said.

The ACT Education Directorate told the ABC that because the incident was outside of school hours and off school grounds, it had not been involved.

Minister agrees to investigate installing bollards

Residents said they had been calling for the ACT Government to do more to protect the site for some time.

A white ute drives along dust and paths.
The same white ute recently photographed at the site has been spotted drifting there before, including here in 2019.(Supplied)

In June, ACT Greens leader and Justice Minister Shane Rattenbury wrote to the City Services Minister Chris Steel asking for them to be installed urgently.

“Last week, I became aware that there has been regular illegal driving on a piece of ACT land adjacent to the CSIRO site in Campbell,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The area is natural temperate grassland with significant geological features onsite. It is an important ecosystem incorporating significant Aboriginal heritage [and] susceptible species such as the Canberra spider orchid, sunray daisy, golden sun moth and button wrinklewort.

“I write to request that you consider asking City Services to erect a series of bollards on Quick St in Ainslie, where vehicles are gaining access to this site in order to protect the significant ecology and cultural significance as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesman for the ACT Government said it would undertake an assessment of vehicle access through the section, and work with the owners of the adjacent land, now Doma Group, on options to limit access for vehicles.

Mr Rattenbury said it was disappointing to hear the site had been damaged again since he first raised the issue.

“This area should be protected, and the solution here isn’t complicated. Bollards along the border of the site could have prevented this unnecessary damage from taking place,” he said.

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Endangered birds’ habitat located at second prison site proposed for Westbury, environmentalists claim

A respected field naturalist who received an Order of Australia medal this year says she was “extremely distressed” to learn what she knows as the Westbury Reserve will be razed in favour of a second Tasmanian prison.

Sarah Lloyd has been visiting the Birralee Road site, about five kilometres from the northern township of Westbury, for about 15 years.

She has documented more than 30 species of bird, including endangered species such as grey goshawks, wedge-tailed eagles and masked owls.

Sarah Lloyd has documented more than 30 species of birds in the Birralee Road area in the past 15 years.(Supplied: Sarah Lloyd)

“It has dead and dying trees, it has a lot of fallen branches and logs on the ground, and it has really messy understorey,” she said.

“So, while most people might think it’s degraded forest it’s actually really important for a lot of bird species.

“I must admit I was extremely distressed to hear that they were building a prison on what I regard, in fact what I’ve always known, as the Westbury Reserve.”

Last week the State Government announced it had dropped plans to build a new prison on an industrial block along the same road.

Instead, Attorney-General Elise Archer said the $270 million project would be situated on thickly forested Crown Land just three kilometres further away from the town centre and without access to water, sewage or gas.

The original plans drew the ire of vocal Westbury residents worried about the potential impact on house prices and the township’s reputation.

They have this week indicated they were opposed to the new site too.

Tasmanian masked owl
The masked owl is one of the endangered birds Ms Lloyd has been documenting.(Supplied: Sarah Lloyd)

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Archer said the Government was now doing its due diligence on the new site with plans to have the first stage of the Westbury prison up and running by 2025.

“This vital project alone will support more than 1,000 jobs and deliver an economic boost of $500 million to the region, according to the recently completed and independently conducted Social and Economic Impact Study,” Ms Archer said in a statement.

Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff wants the Government to go back to the drawing board.

Protestors hold signs
The Government bowed to pressure and relocated the prison after several protest meetings by Westbury residents, but opposition to the second site remains.(ABC News: Jessica Moran)

She noted the land was listed on the Government’s own records as purchased under the Tasmanian Private Forest Reserves Program, suggesting it was once assessed as having conservation values.

“There is no way this site is appropriate for a prison,” Dr Woodruff said.

“It’s appropriate to be protected as the reserve land it is already protected to be … it’s meant to be there for perpetuity.”

An Environment Department spokeswoman said the land had been reassessed about 10 years ago and found it was not needing protection.

“The site has been surveyed several times in the past decade … a preliminary assessment was conducted by DPIPWE prior to the announcement and no impediments have been found that would prevent the building of the prison on this site,” she said.

Ms Lloyd, a prominent member of the Central North Field Naturalists, said she and other members of the group would lobby the Government to find a new site that wasn’t “this special bit of bush”.

“We know based on other surveys around northern Tasmania that these birds are declining,” Ms Lloyd said.

“I just couldn’t believe that they could point their finger at a bit of Crown Land and probably not regard it as having any value at all.”

A pair of golden whistler birds in a tree
Ms Lloyd was awarded an Order of Australia medal for her observations on birdlife and other conservation efforts.(Supplied: Sarah Lloyd)

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Endangered native mouse survives Australian bushfires

The critically endangered Smoky Mouse has been found alive and well in the Kosciuszko National Park, right after it was feared the native species experienced been wiped from the place all through the summer time bushfire disaster.

Motion-sensor cameras set up about the past 5 months have recorded images of the mouse at 7 burnt-out internet sites in southern NSW.

The NSW Place of work of Surroundings established up 58 cameras to check wildlife following the Dunns Street hearth which devastated the region about the summer months.

The sighting of the 50g rodent arrives as a aid to conservationists.

It is only found in two sites in NSW – in the Nullica region on the considerably south coast and in Kosciuszko National Park – as perfectly as pieces of Victoria and the ACT.

“We are relieved and delighted by this news as we ended up fearing the worst … as extra than 90 per cent of their habitat was burnt,” Environment Minister Matt Kean explained.

“Immediately after such a confronting and complicated begin to the calendar year, it was a quite content moment to know a native animal previously threatened with extinction has survived.”

The critically endangered Smoky Mouse has survived the enormous Dunns Road fire in early 2020.

Equipped/New South Wales Govt

More than the summer time, there was issue for the species amid the bushfire crisis soon after 9 mice – uncovered 50 kilometres from the nearest bushfire – died because of to smoke inhalation.

The federal government has recognized a captive breeding prepare under the Preserve our Species method which has bred 47 mice to maturity in the very last four several years.

“Long run strategies are to re-introduce the mice again to the wild to raise the Nullica populace which has been dwindling simply because of predation by feral cats,” Dr Linda Broome reported.

“Breeding happens in spring with one or two litters producing up to four youthful, so we are hoping to have much more superior information for this distinctive tiny mouse.”

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Scientists successfully shift endangered freshwater mussels threatened by bridge build

An endangered species of mussel in Western Australia’s South West has been saved from a potential threat to their habitat from local construction.

Carter’s freshwater mussels are not found anywhere in the world outside of the Vasse River in Busselton.

In what is believed to be first for WA, Murdoch University scientists successfully relocated the mussels for eight months while the City of Busselton built the new Vasse River Road bridge.

Move saves critical molluscs

The team, from Murdoch’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems, relocated 160 mussels from the river to a rehabilitation wetland in Capel.

Using new technology, they monitored the mussels to ensure they survived the new habitat.

The have now successfully placed them back into the Vasse River.

Stephen Beatty led the project and said the successful relocation is believed to be a first in WA.

“They sit at the bottom of the river filtering the water, which is really good for the ecosystem but also human health,” Dr Beatty said.

“These mussels will be doing their bit to try keep the algae down.”

Researchers moved 160 endangered freshwater mussels while their habitat was under threat.(ABC South West: Georgia Loney)

Scientists used valve sensors on the mussels, which allowed them to remotely monitor their behaviour to ensure they were alive and healthy.

Dr Beatty said the unique project has also allowed researchers to collect behaviour data not previously known about the rare species.

Blueprint for future conservation

City of Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the Council said the project and collaboration with Murdoch had produced an excellent result.

“It was challenging enough given the low visibility [in the river],” Mr Henley said.

“However, to then successfully keep them and re-insert them was a great operation.”

He said he expected other local governments would be able to draw on the scientist’s results to help guide and address environmental concerns on other major projects around the state.

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