Spotted-tail quolls are thriving in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands according to a recent survey, despite a series of natural disasters including drought, bushfires and floods. 

Key points:

  • A recent survey shows quoll numbers in the Illawarra are increasing
  • Experts put this down to rigorous fox control
  • Quolls remain on the threatened species list in New South Wales

The two-week survey was done in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions of New South Wales earlier this month and has shown the spotted-tail quoll population is one of the most stable in the state.

Saving our Species quoll expert James Dawson said 52 quolls of varying ages were discovered in the two-week survey earlier this month.

“Young and old males and females were caught, showing that the population is a robust resident breeding population,” he said.

Monitored all year round

In addition to this month’s survey, the NSW governnment’s Save Our Species program monitors the quolls on 30 cameras spread around the wider landscape at Barren Grounds and in Budderoo National Park, all year.

According to Mr Dawson, these have helped confirm a large and stable population. 

“Some of the photos we got this year are quite extraordinary,” he said.

“Not only because they tell us where and how active these animals are but also because we saw many individuals on multiple cameras.

A quoll caught on camera.

The Saving our Species program monitors the quolls all year on camera.(

Supplied: Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

)

Fox control crucial

Quoll experts believe the population expansion of the spotted-tail quolls is largely due to rigorous and constant fox control throughout the South Coast and Illawarra.

Biosecurity officer at South East Local Land Services Evelyn Osborne helps run the Feral Fighters fox-control campaign around key quoll habitat in the region.

“The most recent autumn campaign included 32 private properties operating in a coordinated approach to help create the fox-free zone that we’re after to help protect the quolls,” Ms Osborne said.

“To do this, we need the community to be involved.”

A fox looking at the camera.

Foxes are the main threat to the threatened spotted-tail quoll.(

Image: Supplied by the Office of Environment and Heritage

)

Fires impact population in other areas

The Save our Species program also monitors spotted-tail quoll numbers in three other locations around the state. 

The monitoring program has shown that the Illawarra and Kosciuszko National Park populations are the most stable. 

A population at the Jenolan Caves was also doing well for the first three years of the program, however numbers significantly declined following the 2019–20 bushfires.

Similarly, Mr Dawson said the New England tablelands population was also affected by fire.

The data is still being processed and the full impact is still unknown.

Mr Dawson says he hopes the population will naturally begin to increase as the environment continues to recover.

It took 30 cameras to prove it, but these quolls are making a comeback
Source:
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