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Sixty vulnerable greater stick-nest rats released on to Dirk Hartog Island under Return to 1616 project

Staff reporterMidwest Times
A greater stick nest rat being released on Dirk Hartog Island.
Camera IconA greater stick nest rat being released on Dirk Hartog Island. Credit: Steve Reynolds/DBCA/DBCA

In a sophisticated logistical operation, 60 greater stick-nest rats — a nationally ranked vulnerable species — were successfully released onto Dirk Hartog Island National Park recently.

The greater stick-nest rats, or “stickies”, is a species that has been almost driven to extinction by feral predators on the mainland. Translocating them and helping them boost their population is an aim under the ground-breaking Return to 1616 project.

This batch of 60 joins another 62 that were translocated last year from Salutation Island in WA. The project’s goal of delivering at least 120 greater stick-nest rates to the island has now been met.

Once widespread across the southern and western parts of Australia, the greater stick-nest rat only remain on a small number of islands and in fenced reserves around the country.

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The recently-released stickies were captured on the Franklin Islands off South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and flown 2160km via two helicopters and a plane from Ceduna to Denham to Dirk Hartog Island — all within nine hours.

Some of the stickies were fitted with radio transmitters before release so Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions scientists can monitor them.

Transported in specially constructed boxes, they were released into artificial nests or “proto-nests”, which will offer them some immediate refuge as they settle into their new home.

Environment Minister Reece Whitby said stickies were a difficult animal to translocate because they were sensitive to stress.

“So getting all 60 animals safely from two remote South Australian islands up to Dirk Hartog Island National Park is a remarkable achievement,” he said.

“The DBCA-led Return to 1616 project is certainly ambitious, with its goal of restoring the island to a condition similar to when the Dutch captain visited long ago. To accomplish this goal, it has achieved the world’s largest whole of island removal of goats, sheep, and feral cats.

“Now with six native fauna species back on the island, including rufous hare-wallabies, banded hare-wallabies, Shark Bay bandicoots, dibblers, Shark Bay mice and greater stick-nest rats, the national park is making a major contribution to fauna conservation in WA.”

For more information on the Return to 1616 project, visit www.sharkbay.org/restoration/dirk-hartog-island-return-1616

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