Rare Australian water mouse found living in Caloundra
  • Thursday 24 April 2014
The water mouse, one of Australia's rarest rodents

One of Australia’s rarest rodents, the water mouse, has already been found during the largest fauna (animal) monitoring project to be undertaken in Sunshine Coast Council managed environmental reserves.

The $570,000, four-year project will tell council exactly what wildlife is living in these reserves and help to improve conservation management.

Split into stages, the first two years of the project will focus on data gathering when specialist crews will monitor ten reserves across the Coast to track and record the normally elusive creatures that call the Sunshine Coast home.

This information will then be used to develop a fauna monitoring program so council can best manage its environmental reserves, helping to improve conservation management into the future.

The second round of seasonal surveys began this week at Bells Creek Riparian Reserve and Ben Bennett Bushland Reserve in Caloundra and already ecologists have sighted the water-mouse, found in only three areas of Australia.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Environment Levy funded monitoring project is a great example of how council is working towards a sustainable environment for our region.

“It’s not enough to simply buy land, although this is a major component, we also need to know what species are living in our reserves,” the Mayor said.

“This knowledge will help us to create tailored management plans to suit the plants and animals living at each site.

“Monitoring at this scale on council managed reserves has never been done before, and has been made entirely possible by Sunshine Coast residents contributing to the Environment Levy.

“And the wins aren’t just environmental; economically this will assist in promoting the unique fauna values of this region for a range of interests including education, research and tourism.

“Going forward we will be working closely with environmental experts and consulting with the likes of the Queensland Museum to spearhead some exciting research projects for the Sunshine Coast.”

Division 2 Councillor Tim Dwyer said surveying began in December 2013 with results providing some interesting insights into our local fauna.

“During the summer survey for Bells Creek, ecologists found a population of the vulnerable water-mouse, which ranked as a high priority for conservation,” Cr Dwyer said.

“Council has paired this information with the discovery of an unexpected, high number of introduced black rats, and will now investigate whether they are a threat to the native water mouse and adapt reserve management accordingly.

“Work has only just begun and already it’s giving us useful information which may prevent the loss of important species from our reserves.”

A further six reserves will be surveyed to complete this component of the monitoring program.

Residents can follow the project on council’s website and view videos and photos of reserve fauna.