Australia

Australian Government launches Threatened Species Strategy

THE Australian Government has set new targets to tackle feral cats, protect and recover threatened mammals, birds and plants, and improve recovery practices under the nation's first Threatened Species Strategy.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the Strategy sets out the government's action plan to win the battle against extinction, commits $6.6 million to threatened species projects to kick-start that plan, and invites others with a shared passion for the bush and its wildlife to contribute as well.

"Over time, plants and animals that once thrived on our continent have been pushed to the brink. We need to step in, for their sake and for ours," Mr Hunt said in a statement last week.

Threatened Species Strategy

"There is a lot that can be done, from limiting the impacts of feral cats and creating safe havens to improving habitat and intervening in emergencies. But no one can do it alone, so today's summit brings together the people, organisations and know-how to drive change.

"By 2020, I am setting hard targets for real improvements to 20 mammals and 20 birds on our national threatened species list as well as for 30 priority plant species. That means humane culling of one of our wildlife's worst enemies - feral cats.

"The first 10 mammals identified for priority action are: the numbat, mala, mountain pygmy-possum, greater bilby, golden bandicoot, brush-tailed rabbit-rat, eastern bettong, western quoll, Kangaroo Island dunnart and eastern barred bandicoot.

"Two more - the leadbeater's possum and central rock-rat - will benefit from emergency interventions.

"The first 10 birds identified for priority action are: the helmeted honeyeater, hooded plover, eastern bristlebird, regent honeyeater, mallee emu-wren, plains-wanderer, night parrot, Alligator Rivers yellow chat, and Norfolk Island's green parrot and boobook owl.

"Two more - the orange-bellied parrot and western ground parrot - will benefit from emergency interventions."

The remaining eight species of mammals and eight species of birds will be identified over the next 12 months, in consultation with the community.

Mr Hunt said that by 2020, he wants to see two million feral cats culled, five new islands and 10 new mainland 'safe havens' free of feral cats, and control measures applied across 10 million hectares.

More information about the Threatened Species Strategy is available from the Department of the Environment website at <http://www.environment.gov.au/>.

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