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Senator Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Media Release

The Woylie Saved from Extinction


3 April 1996
(50/96)

Federal Environment Minister, Robert Hill, has announced a major breakthrough in the fight to save Australia's endangered species.

Senator Hill has removed the Brush-tailed Bettong, or Woylie as it is know in the West, from the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act.

The Woylie is the first endangered species to be removed from the list as a direct result of a recovery program. (Other species have previously only been removed after increased knowledge of their numbers revealed they were not threatened.)

Senator Hill says the removal of the Woylie from the list is a strong signal that cooperative recovery programs are working.

"The Woylie is one of many species that were once common across a vast expanse of Australia but which have been surviving in small but threatened pockets of the country.

"As with many threatened species, the Woylie's major threat comes from feral predators, especially the introduced European Red Fox and feral cats. Fox control remains a critical factor in recovery programs for endangered species.

"Several species are now showing encouraging increases in numbers and security areas where fox control has been sustained for several years.

Numbers are thought to have increased to more than 17,000 animals at 10 well established sites and they have been introduced to another 18 sites.

"The Woylie is a remarkable example of the benefits of such efforts, increasing its numbers over five years to the extent where the Endangered Species Scientific Subcommittee has recommended that it be removed from the endangered list.

"It is now considered a species at lower risk but dependent on continuing conservation management - in this case fox control."

Senator Hill says this will be ensured by the Western Australian Government's announcement of "Western Shield", the largest feral pest control program for nature conservation purposes in Australia's history.

"Western Shield will build on the success of existing programs, bringing to almost 5 million hectares of WA under fox and feral cat control programs.

"The revival of the Woylie population shows us what can be achieved when the Commonwealth and the States join in the cooperative efforts with industry, local landholders and communities."

Senator Hill has congratulated the Australian Nature Conservation Agency's Endangered Species and Feral Pests Programs, the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management and Alcoa on their efforts in saving the Woylie.

For further information contact Matt Brown 015 396 773 or 0419 693515.
Photos and video footage of the Woylie are available.
ANCA contact - Bruce Male 0414 636 620

Commonwealth of Australia