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Turtle numbers set to recover in Perricoota Forest

Hundreds of fox baits have been laid during a five-month turtle nest research project in the Perricoota Forest, near Barham, as part of Murray Local Land Services’ Ramsar wetland and buffer zone project.

A collaborative research project between the Arthur Rylah Institute, NSW Forestry Corporation and Murray Local Land Services has seen the engagement of a ‘turtle crew’ from the Moama Local Aboriginal Land Council to establish artificial turtle nests and lay 1080 fox baits.

The project was funded through the Murray Darling Basin Authority’s The Living Murray program.

The crew established around 360 bait stations and 80 artificial nest sites in the Perricoota Forest. These sites were initially set with non-toxic baits to ascertain fox numbers and then with 1080 baits to measure the decrease in the number of nests destroyed.

Ramsar Project manager with Murray Local Land Services, Jamie Hearn, said turtles played a key role in the river ecosystem and were also important to the local indigenous community.

“The recent drought has decimated numbers and many turtle eggs laid each year are eaten by foxes,” he said.

“There is now a serious decline in the turtle population and a recent survey suggests that numbers are very low in our region.”

The Land Council’s turtle crew supervisor, Phil Hudson, said the reduction in destroyed nests was immediate after the switch to poison baits.

“The number of baits taken dropped to around 10 per cent, and this resulted in almost no nests being destroyed from then on,” he said

“It was also great to get some of our young people out into the bush again and to see their enthusiasm for the project.”

Mr Hearn said Murray Local Land Services planned to continue to work with the Moama Aboriginal Lands Council and Forestry Corporation to maintain the pressure on fox numbers in and around the Perricoota Forest.

“The decrease in fox numbers will also help adjoining farmers and reduce predation on other native animals,” he said.

For more information, please contact: Jamie Hearn M. 0447 420 789 at Murray Local Land Services or Linda Broekman at NSW Forestry Corporation on T. 03 5881 9901.

Media enquiries: Matt Lane, Communications, 02 6051 2252, 0427 459 755.