Protecting our potoroos
  • Friday 27 November 2015
Photo of long-nosed potoroo by Leo, Flickr

The elusive long-nosed potoroo has been caught on camera making surprise appearances at a number of council and private properties on the Sunshine Coast – evidence that the Environment Levy Program is making a real difference to our native wildlife.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said Sunshine Coast Council was serious about protecting our native animals and the discovery of the potoroos was more proof that conservation and biodiversity protection programs were achieving positive results.

“The long-nosed potoroo is listed as vulnerable under state and Australian legislation so you can imagine our delight when one of council’s motion sensor cameras captured several of the little critters at one of council’s environmental reserves recently,” Cr McKay said.

“These are important finds – potoroos are a rare and cryptic species with a reported patchy distribution along the east coast of Australia, and few records in Queensland.

“They are one of the smaller members of the kangaroo family – only around a foot long, weighing just over one kilogram – and seldom venture from the shelter of dense understory vegetation.

“Foxes and feral cats have been identified as key predators to the long-nosed potoroo.

“Domestic cats are also threat – council encourages reserve neighbours to help in the protection of this and other vulnerable native animals by ensuring pet cats and dogs are not roaming into the reserve.”

Cr McKay said the sightings had made the Environment Levy investment into land acquisitions, reserve maintenance and landholder conservation partnerships even more rewarding.

“We had recently completed a successful wild dog and fox control program in one of council’s reserves and were undertaking standard infrared camera monitoring when to our surprise several potoroos showed up,” she said.

“Council takes this precautionary approach of ongoing monitoring with our control programs to ensure any changes made, including the removal of predators, does not impact the dynamic or balance within the environmental reserve.

“Similar sightings have been recorded on a number of Land for Wildlife and Voluntary Conservation Agreement properties.”

Cr McKay said it was thanks to council’s progressive Environmental Levy Program they were are able to invest in these programs that protect and enhance valuable natural assets and native animals which otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

“With Environment Levy funds in 2014/15, almost $1 million went towards protecting council’s Environment Levy conservation estate, including preparation of 922 ha across 12 reserves ready to be part of council’s conservation network with new access points, fire trail upgrades, bush regeneration, weed and feral animal control,” she said.

“Council is also delivering a range of programs supporting private landholders and conservation volunteers to help achieve council’s landscape approach to conservation.”

Working in collaboration with council and the University of the Sunshine Coast, Master’s student and environmental scientist, Alina Zwar is conducting field research and will be writing a thesis on the ecology and distribution of long-nosed potoroos in SEQ.

“With little research having been conducted on Queensland potoroos, the work I am undertaking with council’s Land for Wildlife officers and the Voluntary Conservation Agreement properties is all very new and exciting,” Ms Zwar said.

“Through using non-invasive motion camera sensors we are gaining such invaluable data on this largely hidden species.

This is enabling us to piece together a picture to determine their structural habitat preferences and their movements within the environment. “Having precious few records of potoroos within SEQ, this latest discovery of several at council’s environment reserve is really fantastic.”

Photo of long-nosed potoroo by Leo, Flickr