It’s not guns and hunting like it was with the Thylacine, but the Spot-tailed (Tiger) Quoll is knowingly being annihilated by logging, poisoning and NRE’s latest “protection” plans.
Spot-tailed Quolls, the largest meat-eating marsupials surviving on the mainland, are on a slippery slide to extinction. They have gone >from rare to vulnerable to endangered in Victoria in just the last 10 years! However, the Victorian government’s measures to protect the Spot-tailed Quoll have been weakened in a draft rewriting of the 1992 Action Plan.
The re-write admits that Quolls prefer unlogged forest (gosh!), but says regrowth that has plenty of fallen logs can be recolonised. However, there’s no evidence that quolls recolonise even-aged regrowth, even if logs are scattered about.
DITHER AND PROCRASTINATE
It says three issues need addressing in the short term: 1) protection of habitat (sounds good in print) 2) threat control (they ONLY mention about 1080 poison baiting, not logging) and 3) surveying and monitoring (read dithering and procrastinating).
In contrast to these three issues, under “Objectives” it only mentions monitoring and determining if 1080 fox and dog poisoning programs are a threat. That’s been clearly established already, but there is NOTHING about protecting the Quoll’s habitat!
The really telling part is under “Management Actions”. It does mention “Identification and Protection of Habitat” then mentions nothing about identifying and sweet little about protecting their habitat (they use old management trick of not looking for them so they never have to protect them).
BUNG ‘EM ALL IN PARKS
Point 1.1 basically says they want to invent a way to predict where Quolls might live then bung ’em all in protected sites starting with existing Parks and Reserves. They’ll carry out more studies (how many years?) to see if a couple of experimental sites in existing parks do their job and will then apply it to more parks. This point is given a big, important “Priority 1” tag.
There are no target numbers suggested anywhere. The previous Action Statement mentioned maintaining a population of 3,000 across the state; fewer than 1,000 probably remain today. So without a target number, if they can find parks big enough for 10, they’ll be adhering to their plan.
SEE NO QUOLLS – PROTECT NO QUOLLS
Then point 1.2 says that until they cook up a landscape modelling gizmo to predict where Quolls should be, they’ll offer 500 ha Special Protection Zones only for new confirmed reports. What they don’t say is that they won’t carry out any surveys to find new sites. Another 1000 ha Special Management Zone (ie clearfell as usual) will be joined on as an extra, but clearfell with a few small blobs of trees isn’t really their preferred habitat.
The big loophole in this little sentence is at the end – “nearby reserve areas may…replace these zones where habitat is considered adequate” So nothing’s changed! In East Gippsland, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing – expecting Quolls to go live in the nearest reserve and logging it’s detection site. Another big important “Priority 1” tag is given to this ‘protection measure’.
EXPERIMENT TO EXTINCTION
So in short, this “new improved” Action Plan basically says;
1. Until we draw up a map to predict where they should live (in existing reserves preferably), they can have a temporary 500 ha of SPZ (although there are no studies to determine if such small SPZs are effective).
2. Where this conflicts with logging plans (almost everywhere), then we’ll transplant them to the nearest reserve (where we’ll eventually push them to with our modelling outcomes anyway).
3. We’ll keep someone busy with poisoning trials and monitoring to cover-up for the inaction on habitat protection.
There’s also no mention of funding or time-lines for any of this. Other actions include investigations, assessments, monitoring, developing a strategy, conducting trials, talking to staff, surveying, encouraging reporting, giving out info, talking to interstate people – all the stuff that’s been going on for years while the Quoll continues to be bulldozed to oblivion.
If you want to comment, Garry Backhouse is the one responsible, who is clearly operating within the strict political confines of his owners and trainers (who are in turn owned and operated by the logging industry). Call him on 9637 8464. Submissions are being called to give the impression of some democratic public participation. September 21st is the closing date. Maybe bypass the polite references to “concerns”, get to the heart of the matter and tell them what you think. This is no mere decision on the design of public rubbish bins – they are set to pull the trigger on an entire species which has been evolving for millions of years.