Endangered animals and plants in the Victorian Alps are receiving a special helping hand in the aftermath of the recent catastrophic Black Summer fires in North East Victoria.
Endangered species are more vulnerable to threats in the period immediately after bushfires, as the changed landscape makes it easier for feral animals and weeds to invade and cause long-lasting damage.
Feral cats, deer and red foxes were actively targeted over 8,900 hectares of key habitat throughout the North East, using such management tools as baiting, trapping and shooting through a project supported by the North East CMA.
Foxes and feral cats were controlled to protect the endangered Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) in key locations near the Mt Hotham Alpine Resort and in the Alpine National Park.
Sites targeted by this work included areas directly impacted by fire as well as nearby unburnt patches that can act as refuges for native species including the possum.
Deer were controlled to protect endangered alpine peatlands from pugging and overgrazing by these animals after the fires. In addition, weeds such as willows and soft rush were removed on 40 hectares in priority locations of the Alpine National Park, to protect these endangered communities from these invasive plants.
These activities have complemented two existing projects also supported by the North East CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program: the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery in the Victorian Alps project and the Alpine Peatlands Protection project, both running over five years.
Phase one of the North East Emergency Pest Mitigation and Habitat Protection Project has been implemented by the North East CMA in partnership with Parks Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board and HVP Plantations, with support through the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery Program.
Phase two of this project will commence in July 2020.
Cat photos are courtesy of Wildlife Unlimited Pty Ltd.