The bilbies are back
For the first time in more than a century, bilbies are running wild in a NSW conservation area.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said 30 of the small marsupials have been released in a specially fenced, predator-free section of Pilliga State Conservation Area, near Narrabri.
"The bilbies are the first of 13 regionally extinct mammals that will be returned to the wild in a 10-year NSW Government Saving Our Species project," Ms Upton said.
"The return of the bilby is internationally significant: this is a major victory in the campaign to save our species from extinction," she said.
"Bilbies are an iconic Australian native animal and with their long ears, have become our own beloved symbol of Easter.
"They disappeared in the wild in NSW in around 1910 as a result of introduced predators including foxes and cats.
"To have them back in our national parks is a magnificent sight to see and a clear innovative step by this government, towards securing populations of threatened species.
"The bilbies are just the first of the mammal species to be reintroduced to select national parks in Western NSW under the $42.1 million project, with bridled nail-tail wallabies, brush-tailed bettongs and numbats among the species to follow.
"The bilbies are being housed within 32 kilometres of predator-proof fence encompassing 5800 hectares in Pilliga State Conservation Area.
The Pilliga project is being carried out by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in a partnership with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC).
AWC Chief Executive Officer Tim Allard said the return of the bilby to the Pilliga is a spectacular outcome not just for the bilby, but also for Conservation.
"Within a short space of time, AWC's Ecologists and Land Managers constructed the 32 kilometre fence, eradicated feral predators, and have successfully reintroduced the bilby.
This fenced area will also provides a secure environment for another 5 species, including the Bridled nail-tail wallaby, as well as many extant species such as the Pilliga mouse and bird species.
"The aim is that the Pilliga will return to what it was like 200 years ago, before feral predators took their toll.
This project is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by Government and Not-for-Profits working in partnership and is an example of AWCs model in action – innovative land management informed by good science," Mr Allard said.