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The shire of Collie has new elusive residents, with woylies bouncing back in the surrounding forests

Craig DuncanSouth Western Times
One of the woylies spotted on camera in Batalling State Forest.
Camera IconOne of the woylies spotted on camera in Batalling State Forest. Credit: DBCA Media/Supplied

Critically endangered woylies are bouncing back near Collie, with their numbers increasing seventeen-fold in the past four years.

The Batalling State forest, just outside Collie, has seen a dramatic increase in woylie numbers since 2019.

Western Shield zoologist Dr Michelle Drew said they were able to record 34 individuals within the range, compared to 19 in 2022, and just two in 2019.

“All but two of the 34 animals captured were individuals that hadn’t previously been recorded and every female captured had a pouch young,” Dr Drew said.

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“This is a positive sign for further population growth.”

Woylies were once common across mainland Australia, but now, they can only be found in Western Australia and some islands south of South Australia.
Camera IconWoylies were once common across mainland Australia, but now, they can only be found in Western Australia and some islands south of South Australia. Credit: DBCA Media

An increase in the management of invasive predatory animals over the past two years has been vital in helping the woylies recover, Dr Drew said.

“The woylies’ survival rate has been bolstered in the Batalling area in part due to an increase in Western Shield fox management over the past two years, and favourable local weather conditions enabling water and food availability,” Dr Drew said.

She said efforts to control foxes and feral cats in the jarrah forests had reduced the predators’ impact on woylies.

“This integrated approach is now being expanded across forested areas of south-west WA to provide additional protection to native wildlife,” Dr Drew said.

She said populations of chuditch in Batalling State Forest also seemed to be benefiting from the increased pest control with nine individuals captured during the 2023 monitoring season, five of which had not been trapped previously.

Chuditch are vulnerable predatory marsupials
Camera IconChuditch are vulnerable predatory marsupials Credit: DBCA Media

“Such encouraging results help keep everyone motivated with the ultimate goal of ensuring these threatened species continue to thrive in the northern jarrah forest,” Dr Drew said.

She said a comparable forest a few kilometres away, where introduced predators are not managed, recorded no woylies and only two chuditchs were seen during the same season.

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