Bandicoots bounce back in Australian first

·1-min read

An Australian critter has come back from the brink of extinction, with its status officially downgraded after being successfully reintroduced into the wild.

In the Australian first, the threatened-species status of the eastern barred bandicoot has been changed from 'extinct in the wild' to 'endangered'.

Victoria's Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio announced the reclassification on Wednesday, saying the state's eastern barred bandicoot population now has a much brighter future.

Once common across southwest Victoria's grassy plains, the nocturnal species had been decimated by foxes, cats and habitat destruction.

The last wild population was confined to an area near Hamilton, with about 150 remaining in 1989.

A recovery team has since established populations at four predator-free fenced sites at Woodlands Historic Park, Hamilton Community Parklands, Mt Rothwell and Tiverton, along with two sites protected by Zoos Victoria's guardian dogs at Skipton and Dunkeld.

Captive bandicoots, some of which were inter-bred with Tasmanian eastern barred bandicoots, are also thriving after being moved to fox-free habitats on Phillip, Churchill and French islands.

About 1500 eastern barred bandicoots are now spread across the sites, prompting the reclassification.

Ms D'Ambrosio said the status change stemmed from the efforts of every member of the recovery team.

"Community volunteers have played a big role at many of the reintroduction sites, helping check fences, count bandicoots and remove weeds and pests," she said.

The reclassification will also allow Zoos Victoria to end its 30-year captive breeding program after producing almost 1200 bandicoots.

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