Working with wildlife in ‘situ’, a better proposition than translocating koalas

Yesterday ABC radio interviewed Mr Keith Dance, a member the NPWS Far South Coast Region Advisory Committee. Mr Dance spoke, for the first time, about the groups’ efforts to translocate Strzelecki koalas to the south coast. While the original idea to bring in koalas from Victoria came from the NSW government, the advisory committee’s endorsement and support may provide the illusion of community acceptance.

What advice, if any, the advisory committee has recieved to convince them translocated koalas will survive in conditions that could not support the endemic koalas, is unclear. Similarly, it’s not clear if the committee, and the groups represented on it, like Coastwatchers and the National Parks Association, will accept responsibility should things not turn out as planned.

Referring to the former Tanatwangalo koalas, where the translocated koalas were/are to be released, Lunney, et al, (2014) indicate they obtained detailed logging data from Forests NSW, although it only applied to areas logged after 1999, so logging history was not included in the analysis. However, the NPWS have previously provided a logging history, indicating there was very little logging in Tantawangalo prior to transfer into National Park. Despite this, and seeminging in contrast to the climate change theory, Lunney et al. state ” . . It is now clear that this transfer of land was too late for conserving the koala population; however, as ghost habitat, it retains its potential to once again support a koala population should koalas recolonise this area in the future.”

This is what the NSW government say about cleared land as well, but I do agree with the Lunney et al. comment, ” . . . planning and management strategies to adapt to climate change will need to rely on effective local strategies to manage regional wildlife populations in situ.”

Hence the shot below, a video still showing the first success persuading a wallaby to open, and pass through, a wombat gate in the feral fence.

gatewallaby

 

On the feral issue, earlier in the week ABC radio also interviewed Dr Andrew Claridge, another OE&H researcher that has spent a lot of time on the south coast. He complimented FCNSW on its long term fox and dog baiting program, saying FCNSW are now finding Long-footed potoroos in places they hadn’t been found before. Leaving aside the concern that FCNSW may not be telling the truth, recent Murdoch University research on baiting in WA found ” . . . 99 per cent of baits were observed being taken by species other than foxes, 95 per cent were taken by native fauna and four per cent were taken by introduced pigs and black rats.”

Dr Claridge questioned whether native species reduced the threat of fire, saying he’d like to see the evidence. Alternatively, I’d like to hear the OE&H talking about extensive canopy dieback, whether it is likely to increase the threat and intensity of fire, and any evidence that the cause, is not the regional loss of native animals.

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