Have your say on protecting Canberra Bettongs

Released 03/11/2017

The community is being asked to comment on the potential inclusion of the Eastern Bettong to the ACT Threatened Native Species List, Dr Margaret Kitchin, Senior Manager, Conservation Research said.

“The ACT Scientific Committee is seeking views on the nomination of the Eastern Bettong for the ACT’s Threatened Native Species List under the category of Regionally Conservation Dependent. Listing an animal is formal recognition of the need for ongoing management to conserve the species in the ACT,” Dr Kitchin said.

“In 2011 and 2012, the ACT Government brought 60 Eastern Bettongs from Tasmania, the only place they are now found in the wild, to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary.

“These marsupials were once very common around Canberra and became extinct in mainland Australia almost 100 years ago following the introduction of foxes and increased land clearing and livestock grazing activities. The mainland population of the Eastern Bettong is listed as extinct under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act, 1999 (EPBC Act).

“Since their return to the ACT, Eastern Bettong numbers have increased with recent estimates of at least 160 animals in Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and 70 in Tidbinbilla.

“The success of the reintroduction has identified the need to ensure the future protection of Canberra’s Eastern Bettong population. A trial is underway to assess if an Eastern Bettong population can be established ‘beyond the fence’ in the Lower Cotter Catchment.

“Bettongs are understood to play an important role in restoring the ACT’s grassy box-gum woodland, which is a threatened ecological community, as they dig for truffles to eat they are working as ‘ecosystem-engineers’, improving soil conditions, water infiltration and habitats for other organisms.

“To assist the Scientific Committee assess the nomination, the Committee is particularly interested in receiving submissions that provide additional information or any comments on the information already provided in the nomination.

“Following consultation, the Scientific Committee may recommend to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage to list the Eastern Bettong in the Threatened Native Species List and ensure the future protection of the species in the ACT,” Dr Kitchin concluded.

Consultation is open until Friday 8 December 2017. For more information on the consultation please visit www.environment.act.gov.au.

- Statement ends -

Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases

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