Captive breeding programs: Questions

Hon LYNN MacLAREN to the minister representing the Minister for Environment:


(1) Which captive breeding programs are currently active in WA?
(2) For each program in (1), which species is being bred?
(3) Why is the Project Eden initiative at the Peron Captive Breeding Centre concluding upon the recent release of 12 captive-bred bilbies?
(4) Can the minister advise what the wild population of bilbies is?
(5) What impact will the release of 175 bilbies have on the population of this vulnerable species?
(6) What is the estimated survival rate and how will this be monitored?


Hon HELEN MORTON replied:


I thank the member for some notice of the question.
The Minister for Environment has provided the following response —
(1) There are currently two active breeding programs in Western Australia. These are located at Perth Zoo and Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre near Kalamunda. Both programs are undertaken in partnership with the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
(2) (a) Perth Zoo: bilby; western swamp tortoise; dibbler; numbat; and orange-bellied and white-bellied frogs.
(b) Kanyana: woylie and bilby.
(3) Project Eden is continuing as a fauna conservation program within the Shark Bay World Heritage site. The Peron captive breeding program, as part of Project Eden, is no longer considered necessary as bilby and other fauna species populations are now considered sustainable in this area. This program demonstrates the success that captive breeding programs can have on re-establishing native animal populations in their native habitat.
Department of Parks and Wildlife staff will continue to record and monitor bilby populations on Peron Peninsula, using sightings, remote cameras and footprint tracking surveys. Project Eden will also continue its important work on feral animal control and continue to form part of the broader Western Shield fauna conservation program.
(4) No. The total size of the wild bilby population in Western Australia, as in the rest of Australia, is unknown due to the difficulty of detecting animals—they occur in low numbers and over wide areas—and the lack of appropriate survey techniques. It is known there are widespread populations in the Pilbara and lower Kimberley, and reintroduced populations at Francois Peron National Park and Lorna Glen, managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.
(5) The 175 bilbies were released into Francois Peron National Park over the last 13 years, since 2000. This provides a self-sustaining population, which adds to the distribution and security of the species.
(6) Data from the first release of 55 individuals at Peron in 2000 indicated over 90 per cent survival after the first 12 months. Initial monitoring was by radio telemetry; ongoing monitoring is by standardised track counts, burrow activity and remote cameras.