A GROUP of highly endangered eastern bristlebirds have made their home in Wilsons Promontory after a delicate overnight relocation program was carried out last month.
Seventeen eastern bristlebirds were transported from the Booderee and Jervis Bay national parks in south-eastern New South Wales to establish a second colony in Gippsland.
The multi-agency team of 10 organisations carefully transported the ground-dwelling birds through the night across the border to a habitat naturally sheltered from the impacts of climate change.
Eastern bristlebirds are listed as endangered nationally and critically endangered in Victoria. They are under increasing threat due to increasing frequency and intensity of fires.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning project lead Beau Fahnle said translocating any native species was a precarious operation and only considered as a last resort.
“For the Eastern Bristlebird, translocation is necessary despite the risks,” Mr Fahnle said.
“Through this operation, it is hoped that the Eastern Bristlebird can flourish in a location where such challenges are less prominent.”
The Australian-first interstate operation was undertaken to boost the bird’s population, genetic diversity and long-term prospect of survival.
There is a lone population of eastern bristlebirds in fire-prone Howe Flat in the Croajingalong National Park, which is under imminent threat from climate change, predation and habitat loss.
An emergency extraction ahead of the fire-front in the Black Summer bushfires was carried out to help insure its population in Victoria.
A taskforce spanning three states undertook the highly delicate operation, transporting the birds in a 10-hour overnight vehicle convoy.
The species are characteristically known to be timid, poor fliers and prone to stress.
The recipient site at the Prom was laid-out with predator control, vegetation surveys, planned burning and pest management to ensure a safe transition and warm welcome.
The VIP travellers were transported in specially grown Poa grass tussocks from the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to reduce any trauma.
The project was funded by the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian governments, and supported by the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Zoos Victoria.
Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek said last month’s State of the Environment report detailed the importance of taking action to protect endangered species.
“We are working across jurisdictions with our Victorian and NSW colleagues to ensure these birds have the best possible chance to establish a new population,” Ms Plibersek said.