An historic meeting took place in Bairnsdale recently to discuss what actions could be undertaken to assist the ecological recovery of the Boole Poole Peninsula.
Members of the Friends of the Gippsland Lakes and Bairnsdale & District Field Naturalists Club and staff from Parks Victoria, DSE and East Gippsland CMA attended the meeting. A wide range of possible actions that could be undertaken to enhance and reinvigorate the coastal and forest ecosystems found on the peninsula were discussed.
Central to the discussions was the management of feral animals. The group agreed that an ongoing fox-control program and a pig eradication program were a critical part of the overall project.
Feral pigs cause a great deal of environmental damage in the course of their foraging activities. There was a strong desire within the group to undertake a program to eradicate this species from the peninsula. It was felt that with a well-resourced and sustained trapping program the chances of eradicating the pigs from the peninsula would be high.
Parks Victoria already undertakes fox control across large parts of the peninsula for several months of the year. This is done during the spring months to reduce the threats posed to nesting shorebirds, such as Little Terns. While this program appears highly successful it will require some modification to ensure that the pressure is maintained on any foxes trying to reoccupy the peninsula at other times of the year.
Unfortunately the presence of foxes on the peninsula for over 100 years is likely to have resulted in the disappearance of a range of native mammals. Long-nosed Potoroos, Long-nosed Bandicoots and Southern Brown Bandicoots probably existed in the forests of the peninsula, but these species would appear to be long-gone, along with pademelons, a wallaby about half the size of a Swamp Wallaby. Those at the meeting agreed that a logical progression in the ecological recovery of Boole Poole Peninsula is the reintroduction of the range of mammals that were once present. The most appropriate course of action is a pilot project involving the translocation of a small group of Long-nosed Potoroos. This would be carried out to determine the suitability of the site for further releases of mammals. A translocation proposal will be written and circulated for comment.?
An important precursor to any proposed translocation is to undertake a comprehensive survey of the ground-dwelling mammal fauna currently existing on the peninsula. This will be carried out to determine if, as suspected, potoroos and bandicoots no longer exist there. The survey work will also provide information about the presence and distribution of other small mammals still surviving on the peninsula. This survey work is likely to include some live trapping of animals as well as the use of hairtubes. The Bairnsdale & District Field Naturalists Club, the Fauna Survey Group of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, and members of the Friends of the Gippsland Lakes are all likely to be involved in the survey work planned for the Easter long weekend.
Where to from here
As a result of the meeting, a revised fox control program will be drafted by the end of January. Funding proposals for the pig eradication program and wildlife survey will be completed by the end of February. A wildlife translocation proposal will be written and available for comment by the end of January.
A survey of ground dwelling mammals will be undertaken during Easter.