Dirk Hartog Island: With cats away the mice come back to play

Midwest Times
Swimming at Dirk Hartog Island.
Camera IconSwimming at Dirk Hartog Island. Credit: Tourism Western Australia/Supplied

An ambitious project to return Dirk Hartog Island to the ecological condition it was found in 405 years ago continues with the return of two species of native rodent.

Recently, 80 vulnerable Shark Bay mice and 58 greater stick-nest rats were released back on the island. These were the fifth and sixth mammal translocations completed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions under the Return to 1616 restoration project.


Greater stick-nest rats were widespread across southern and western parts of Australia but are now extinct on the mainland.

Sixty-six boxes made to transport the greater stick-nest rats to their new home were built by staff and prisoners at Albany Regional Prison.

The Shark Bay mouse was once widespread across the southern and western parts of Australia, but is now only found on islands off the Mid West and North West coast.

Before release, some mice were fitted with radio transmitters for monitoring by DBCA scientists.

Both species were once original fauna of Dirk Hartog Island, off the Gascoyne coast.

The Return to 1616 project has seen the translocation of rufous hare-wallabies, banded hare-wallabies, Shark Bay bandicoots and dibblers and the eradication of feral animals such as cats and goats.

Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said: “This Shark Bay release is a wonderful achievement and a significant milestone in the innovative Return to 1616 ecological restoration project.”

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