For the first time in over 100 years the Greater Bilby will be back in NSW National Parks before the end of the year, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced. The NSW Government is working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to reintroduce Bilbies into the magnificent Pilliga forests of northern NSW.
“This is a historic step for Bilby conservation – they became extinct in NSW over 100 years ago and for the first time they will be back in the wild,” Ms Upton said. “The NSW Government is investing over $40 million through the Saving our Species program to reintroduce native species to NSW. The rewilding project with AWC is part of that significant investment.”
As part of the project, AWC is building a specially designed 32-kilometre feral cat and fox-proof fence to establish a secure 5800-hectare feral predator-free area into which wild Bilbies will be reintroduced. “This new fence is crucial to protecting the Bilbies and the first posts have just gone in,” Ms Upton said.
Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries welcomed the exciting project milestone. “Over the next two months over 6500 fence pickets, 300 kilometres of plain wire and 96 kilometres of netting will be installed,” Mr Humphries said. “Then work starts to remove all the feral cats and foxes from across the 5800 hectares of forest – it’s a massive project.”
AWC Chief Executive Atticus Fleming said the scale of the project meant the potential to eventually protect almost 10 percent of the total Australian Greater Bilby population. “AWC has been engaged to manage a 35,750-hectare area of the Pilliga State Conservation Area and National Park. Establishing the large feral-free area is the best way of securing the return of the Bilby to this area, and to others,” Mr Fleming said.
At least five other regionally extinct mammals will be introduced to the Pilliga in coming years – the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, the Brush-tailed Bettong, the Western Barred Bandicoot, the Plains Mouse and the Western Quoll.