Queensland’s turtle population are being given a helping hand against predators with four organisations sharing $2.1 million under round two of the Nest to Ocean program.
The funding is part of a $7 million joint Australian and Queensland Government investment over four years to reduce the threat to turtle nests from feral pigs, foxes and other predators.
Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, said taking action to protect Cape York’s turtle population was an important issue not just for Queenslanders but all Australians.
“When you see the devastation caused by feral predators to turtle nests, eggs and baby hatchlings you know action is required,” Minister Hunt said.
“Other Australian Government funded turtle programmes in Cape York have seen tremendous results with predation of turtle nests by pigs reduced from a 97 per cent nest mortality rate to a 12 per cent nest mortality rate.
“So we know that funding local organisations to come up with local solutions will deliver real results for Cape York’s turtle population.”
Queensland Minister for National Parks Dr Steven Miles said three projects are focusing on feral pig control in Cape York.
“A combined $1.2 million will help Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council and Cape York Natural Resource Management control feral pigs in priority turtle nesting sites on western Cape York,” Dr Miles said.
“Control activities include ground and aerial shooting, baiting, trapping and nest protection. Cape York Natural Resource Management will also begin a monitoring trial using a drone.
“The drone will be used to monitor turtle nesting and feral animals, which is a cost-effective and innovative solution to help protect turtle populations on Cape York.
“A further $270,000 will support Kalan Enterprises Aboriginal Corporation to control feral pigs along the eastern Cape York coastline to bring turtle hatchlings back to the long beaches on the eastern side.”
Dr Miles said the foxes are one of the most significant threats to loggerhead, green, and flatback turtles in nesting along the Central Queensland coastline.
“We have provided $659,000 to the Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management to target foxes along the coast between Bundaberg and Agnes Water,” Dr Miles said.
“The project includes baiting, fox den location using detector dogs, public education and awareness.”
Dr Miles said the round two projects are building on the nine projects already started in round one.
“We have already seen some good results for turtle survival and biodiversity,” Dr Miles said.
Contracts have been awarded to the following organisations for round two projects under the Nest to Ocean program:
Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council – $129,250
The Topsy to South Mitchell River project will focus on feral pig control on the western Cape York in areas used for nesting by flatback turtles and olive ridley turtles. The two-and-a-half year project will include baiting, trapping, installation of predator exclusion devices on turtle nests, monitoring and training.
Cape York Natural Resource Management – $1,059,023
Reducing Predation on Marine Turtle Nests in Western Cape York is a two and a half year project targeting feral pigs at western Cape York coastal locations to protect flatback and olive ridley turtles. The program includes baiting, trapping, aerial shooting, predator exclusion devices on turtle nests, and a monitoring trial using a drone. The drone will be used to survey beaches for nesting and predator activity. The program also includes the development of a research plan for monitoring pig population dynamics and home range.
Burnett Mary Regional Group for Natural Resource Management – $659,359
Taking Turtles off the Menu is a three-year project targeting foxes along the coast between Bundaberg and Agnes Water. It will focus on nesting areas used by loggerhead, green and flatback turtles. The project includes on-ground baiting, fox den location using detection dogs and fumigation, installation of predator exclusion devices on turtle nests, monitoring, and public education and awareness.
Kalan Enterprises Aboriginal Corporation – $270,825
Bringing turtle hatchlings back to the long beaches of east coast Cape York is a two-year project focusing on the control of feral pigs along a section of the eastern Cape York coastline used for nesting by green and hawksbill turtles. The project will include on-ground baiting, trapping, aerial shooting, installation of predator exclusion devices on turtle nests and monitoring.