The Tanja/Wapengo area is home to one of the few remaining potoroo populations on the eastern coast of Australia. The long-nosed potoroo is a nationally threatened species that is rapidly disappearing from its former range.
Potoroos inhabit the dense coastal forests of eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to the Victorian border. Their decline is due to predation by foxes, loss of suitable habitat due to land clearing, other human impacts and droughts.
Since 2009 the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (SRCMA) has been monitoring potoroos in the Tanja area twice a year. Monitoring takes place in Spring and Autumn using infra-red cameras trained on bait stations, attracting potoroos with a mix of peanut butter and black truffle oil (Jamie Oliver eat your heart out!)
The latest survey results in autumn this year show that the population between Nelson’s beach and Aragunnu appears to be stable. The Potoroos were found both in the National Park and on private land.
One reason for the stability of the local population is ongoing best practice fox control, carried out over the last 12 months. This involves baiting with 1080 poison once a month, 12 months of the year, with bait stations situated every kilometre in a four kilometre radius around known potoroo sites. Fox numbers are monitored using sand pads placed on tracks and checked for foot prints.
A key to the success of the program is the participation of local landholders in monitoring potoroos and baiting foxes. Around 20 landholders have been involved in the project start-up. The next step is to expand the project west of the Bermagui-Tathra Road.
To support private landholders, the Livestock Health and Pest Authority has begun a series of bait handling training sessions. The first was run at Tanja Hall to certify landholders to use 1080 and Pindone baits on their properties.
The efforts of private landholders are also being backed up by a number of land management agencies, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Forests NSW who have agreed to maintain best practice fox control in the Tanja/Wapengo area over the next five years. The project will then be evaluated and decisions made about future strategies.
The project may then be broadened to other areas known to have Potoroos and other species threatened by fox predation. Already, fox control has begun in our second study area, around the northern edge of Wallaga Lake.
If you are interested in finding out more about the project or want to become involved with either Potoroo monitoring or fox control on your property please contact Olivia Forge, Potoroo Project Officer at Local Land Services 6491 7816, firstname.lastname@example.org.
(from CMN Newsletter Spring 2010, photo by Kristian Golding)