Quolls to be reintroduced to the mainland in the wilds of Booderee
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Quolls to be reintroduced to the mainland in the wilds of Booderee

Plans are ramping up to reintroduce 100 eastern quolls to Booderee National Park in Jervis Bay over the next four years.

The first release will take place in autumn 2018, with 20 quolls being transported from Tasmania to the wilds of the NSW south coast for reintroduction to the mainland.

Eastern quolls at wildlife sanctuary Devils at Cradle in Tasmania.

Eastern quolls at wildlife sanctuary Devils at Cradle in Tasmania.Credit:Devils@Cradle

Despite the distance, the trip will take just hours.

Rewilding Australia director Rob Brewster said the quolls would be transported in boxes in a light aircraft.

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"We will fly them across the Bass Strait and land them in Jervis Bay on the military air strip," he said.

"The really great thing is that this translocation, the transport on the day, will only take all up five hours from these guys leaving the wildlife park to being on the ground. It will minimise the stress on the animal."

Mr Brewster said plans were being finalised for their reintroduction.

The program co-ordinators will keep an eye on the location of the quolls with the use of GPS tracking collars.

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to help raise $40,000 to fund the equipment and monitoring. Funds were donated for 13 trackers, but seven more are needed to track the pioneer population.

"That will also give us funding for ongoing, very intensive monitoring of the quolls both inside and outside the park for the next five years," he said.

"The tracking is really essential, it's important that this reintroduction is science-based, so we need to know exactly where these quolls are and what habitat they are preferring to reside in and also which quolls are reacting with which quolls."

The quolls come from two wildlife parks in Tasmania to diversify the population, the Trowunna Wildlife Sanctuary and Devils at Cradle.

The program is purposely different to the one being run at Mulligans Flat to help give the critters a better chance at re-establishing themselves on the mainland.

"We need a range of different management strategies," Mr Brewster said.

"This includes large free range enclosures for eastern quolls, like Mulligans Flat, as well as 'outside the fence' reintroduction efforts that aim to determine the habitat and landscape types that offer the best protection for eastern quolls, and the most efficient fox management regimes that we need to apply to these landscapes."

Mr Brewster said quolls were a missing element of a healthy ecosystem.

"They're known as ecosystem regulators. They eat various small mammals and insects like moths, spiders and grubs, and regulate a numbers of other species."

But while there was still some doubt about the reintroduction program, Mr Brewster was confident the quolls were hardier than they seemed.

"A lot of people doubt whether we can bring these guys back but one of the interesting things is that the eastern quoll survived on the mainland until relatively recently."

The last confirmed mainland specimen was in 1963, he said, but recently a taxidermied quoll from 1989 came to light.

"What it shows is these animals might be able to survive better in the environment than other small mammals that we lost very early.

"That gives me added hope that if we can manage foxes and feral cats in the environment, these guys could survive."

To donate to the Pozible campaign, with prizes like mugs, hats and even getting to name a quoll, visit this website.

Kimberley Le Lievre is the Editor of The Sunday Canberra Times

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