A spotted-tail quoll has been caught on camera in the Erica State Park, forcing VicForests to cease logging nearby.
First published in our 17 May 2018 print edition.
The endangered native hunter was spotted late last month by bushwalker and nature enthusiast Milan Stupar, who had set up a motion-triggered video camera and home-made lures to find out what was in the area.
The sighting is a big deal, and is enough to have seen active logging in the area cease while a protection zone is established.
“The record from Erica is the closest record of a Spotted-tail Quoll to Melbourne in decades,” senior curator of mammals at Museums Victoria Kevin Rowe told the Baw Baw Citizen
“Quolls used to be a common part of the Melbourne landscape. Eastern quolls were in Studley Park until the 1960s, before they went extinct on the mainland.
“Spotted-tailed Quolls were also widespread through Melbourne.
What’s surprising in this case is the relative ease with which Milan found the usually-nocturnal creature. After only finding a cat and a fox higher up in the mountains, Milan set up a bit lower down
“To my surprise, I got one,” he told the Baw Baw Citizen
“I got a camera about a year ago, and I guess a quoll was one of the things I was looking for among other animals
“I had a feeling there was some good old growth forest habitat.
“I had mostly been setting up trail cameras with no lure, and I was still getting quite a lot of different animals
“On this occasion, as an exper-iment, I thought I’d put some sardines in a canister I made at home and this quoll came around
“The quoll couldn’t get to [the sardines], I made the lure so just the scent coming out
“It’s exciting to know that they’re there!
A five square kilometre habitat protection zone and a 10 square kilometre management zone are now on the drawing board. That sounds large, but it might not be enough
“Males can patrol home ranges of up to 35 square kilometres,” Mr Rowe said
“They may travel even farther when dispersing to a new home range.” Milan has been frustrated by a lack of information and investigation of endangered species in the logging area
“I don’t know what this proves, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough being done on the ground,” he said.
“It might just be that the departments aren’t well funded.”
“It basically only [happens] if a university or some research organisation goes in and looks for a specific animal. That’s the extent of the research.
“There’s no well-funded, complete biodiversity assessment of the area from my understanding. And if there is, it hasn’t happened for a long, long time.
“It was really surprising. Where I found the quoll was, say, 200 metres away from a recently logged coop.
“I mean, who’s out there doing surveys? It’s just mind boggling.
“If you look at the current timber harvesting scheduling there was a lot of forest near there that was on the chopping board.”
A VicForests media release states the forestry organisation is “delighted” by the discovery.
“We have halted harvesting in the area, and it is not expected to resume in that coupe until spring,” representative Alex Messina wrote.
Environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s office did not respond to questions, but the minister did tell The Age the sighting is a sign of the forest’s good health.
“I’ve been on the ground in that area a few times now and disagree with that,” Milan said.
“Where I found the animal is in a currently-existing special protected zone, but it’s a very small zone designated for the sooty owl. The only reason VicForests doesn’t log in there is because [of] that zone.
“Forest quality is no reflection on VicForests because if they could they would have just gone in there and logged the whole thing.