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$20m allocated but not spent on Southern Brown Bandicoot, The Pines Frankston

Bandicoots are another casualty of Eastlink, the tollway that has divided our beautiful Mornington Peninsula in two and wrecked most remaining habitat and corridor linkage for native animals there.

Letter from Hans Brunner, Biologist, to Geoff Shaw, MP, Frankston:

Dear Geoff,

I am still deeply concerned about the fate and long-term survival of the Southern Brown Bandicoot in this region. The response to you and Jude Perera by the government decision makers (GDM) not to erect a predator–proof fence around the Pines simply because there are no SBB’s left there is extremely disappointing to say the least. If a six year old child would have come to such an over simplistic conclusion I would have understood this. They want the $1.6 million dollars to protect this species elsewhere where there is absolutely no guarantee that it will survive there in the long term. Research to see how the bandicoots in that area are coping is incomplete. Most importantly, no Population Viability Assessment has been conducted for them in that area which would surely have a negative outcome.

Jim Kerin and I have sent a long, scientifically sound report to the appropriate Ministers explaining why the bandicoots have been lost in the Pines and why they must be re-introduced there and protected within a predator-proof fence on both sides of the freeway and dog walking be disallowed. I therefore must conclude that this report was either completely ignored or not comprehended by the GDMs or that they were badly misinformed by their advisors. I therefore have come to the conclusion that scientific arguments are a waste of time and, sadly, attitudes have become the real problem. I wonder as to what the public has to say about the spending of over $ 20million dollars for the protection of the Southern Brown Bandicoots in the Pines and then, after the work was completed, not to want Southern Brown Bandicoots there anymore.

There is a saying that “Man’s morality is judged by the way he treats his animals”. Our native animals in particular are suffering from a biological warfare (exotic predators such as dogs, foxes and cats), a chemical warfare (poisons and fumigants), from shooting of kangaroos and its shocking implications, from putting a bounty, for a while, on eagles and wombats, from severely mistreating dingoes on Fraser island and in the main, not doing by far enough for all the endangered native fauna species.

The Southern Brown bandicoot and its close relative, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, are classical examples of incompetence, apathy and mismanagement. It is high time for the authorities to change their attitude and come to a realistic conclusion for the long-term protection of these two species. So, just put the Southern Brown Bandicoots back into the Pines where they always belonged. Within a predator-proof fence and dog walking banned they will quickly breed up like rabbits and stay there the same way they prosper at the Royal Botanical Garden Cranbourne. The habitat in the Pines is at least as suitable for them if not better than that in the RBGC.

To erect a predator-proof fence around all of the Pines has also unanimous support from the Frankston Council.

Yours sincerely,
Hans Brunner

Comments

On Tuesday, the rabbit-sized eatern barred bandicoot's wild numbers get a boost with the release of 36 animals into a 280-hectare, fox-free site at Woodlands Historic Park in Greenvale.

For these bandicoots to stay, keep foxes away Bridie Smith, The Age 24th June

In the mid-1990s there were as many as 600 bandicoots at Woodlands. Within a decade, all had disappeared, largely because of foxes. Drought and rabbits also reduced food availability. Ongoing monitoring - including using closed circuit television - would ensure fox territory remained restricted.

With fewer than 400 left in the wild, geneticists say they need at least 2500 to ensure the species' survival.

Let's hope that these bandicoots can survive the many threats that already exist.