After requiring the introduction of a captive management program last year, Lord Howe Island’s entire population of endangered woodhens have been successfully reintroduced to the wild.
The birds had to be taken into captivity after a break-out of introduced rodents threatened their survival on the world-heritage-listed island, located around 600 kilometres off the coast of NSW. The outbreak forced the hand of the local Port Macquarie council, leading them to embark on a large-scale rodent eradication program.
The island’s entire woodhen population, around 230 birds, and much of the Lord Howe Island currawong population were captured and placed in specially designed enclosures before the rodent eradication began midway through last year. Due to the remote location of the birds’ mountainous habitats, helicopters were required during the process of both capturing and releasing the animals.
Leslie Williams, the Member for Port Macquarie, described the project to ABC News as the “largest single conservation action in the state’s history”.
"It was made possible thanks to a partnership between the Lord Howe Island Board and Department of Planning Industry and Environment."
The rodent eradication program has also been a great success, with conservationists now planning to monitor rodent presence on the island. Strict biosecurity measures have been enforced and researchers will be undertaking ongoing surveillance to gauge the impact of the program on the wider ecosystem.
Rangers say the early evidence suggests both the woodhens and currawongs are happy to be back in the wild and have already resumed breeding.
- Do some good for our native wildlife by getting outdoors and planting a native tree this National Tree Day.
- If you’re passionate about conservation, check out the amazing work of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
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