More bettongs released into SA wilds

·2-min read

Another 80 brush-tailed bettongs have been released into a protected reserve on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula as efforts continue to ensure the survival of the endangered species.

In two releases during July, 36 of the marsupials were brought from the Upper Warren region in Western Australia and 44 were relocated from SA's Wedge Island.

In August last year, an initial 40 bettongs from Wedge Island were also released into their new home in the Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, an area where they've been locally extinct for more than a century.

Bettongs once inhabited more than 60 per cent of mainland Australia but habitat loss and introduced predators including feral cats and foxes pushed the species to the brink of extinction.

They are now only found in small pockets of WA, on offshore islands in SA and in a handful of fenced sanctuaries.

The WA bettongs were chosen from a healthy population near Manjimup, 307 kilometres south of Perth.

Representatives from the Narungga people travelled to WA to meet the traditional owners, the Noongar people, and to support ecologists and a team from the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to capture the animals.

The bettongs were given health checks and fitted with tracking devices before being set free.

"It will be unfamiliar territory for the Western Australian bettongs with strange habitat and food sources to discover," Northern and Yorke Landscape Board ecologist Derek Sandow said.

"But we expect they will adapt quickly to their new home."

The initial group of bettongs has settled in well with most females found to be carrying pouched young during recent health checks.

Ecologists hope the 80 new arrivals will improve genetic diversity and build resilience in the population.

They are also expected to play a role in ecosystem improvement.

One brush-tailed bettong can dig between two to six tonnes of dirt and leaf litter each year, which aids water infiltration, disperses seeds and helps native plants grow.

To help ensure their safety, a 25-kilometre predator control fence has been built across the foot of Yorke Peninsula.

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