A mischief of 80 Shark Bay mice and 58 greater stick-nest rats have been translocated to Dirk Hartog Island by WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
The release of the native rodents to Dirk Hartog Island as part of Western Australia’s ecological restoration Return to 1616 project, which aims to revive the animals once native to the island.
A statement from WA minister for environment Amber-Jade Sanderson said that in addition to the rodents, the wildlife reconstruction project has now reintroduced rufous hare-wallabies, banded hare-wallabies, Shark Bay bandicoots and dibblers.
“This project is certainly an ambitious one, but its success is ensuring our native wildlife have a safe sanctuary free from feral cats and goats,” Sanderson said.
“The [state] government is committed to ensuring the conservation of WA’s diverse wildlife and I am pleased to celebrate these significant accomplishments for the Return to 1616 project.”
Greater stick-nest rates used to be widespread across the southern and western parts of Australia but have since become extinct on the mainland.
In the case of the Shark Bay mouse, which was also previously widespread across the southern and western parts of the country, a handful of populations remain on islands off the mid-west and north-west coast.
The 66 custom boxes that were used to transport and release the rodents were built by staff and prisoners of the Albany Regional Prison. For some of the prisoners, their work on the project counted to traineeships and a Certificate II in furniture-making.
Corrective services minister Bill Johnson said that the prison’s cabinet shop has previously made special-order cabinets and apparatus for the department’s conservation mind.
“Making a contribution to the conservation of endangered species adds a meaningful component to the rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners in our care,” Johnson said.
“It’s a practical example of how collaboration between prisons and those managing important conservation work can result in positive, cost-effective outcomes.”