Two months on, and still no permanent protection for the Mt Baw Baw quoll.
It’s been exactly two months since a rare Spot-tailed quoll was sighted in the forests on the southern slopes of Mt Baw Baw, and the Victorian government is still yet to implement any permanent protection for the animal.
Milan Stupar, a lawyer and avid hiker, made the rare discovery on the 25th of April this year. He had been searching for quolls for years with no luck so he was elated when he captured footage of one on his remote-sensor camera placed in the Erica State Forest near Mt Baw Baw. But it was a bittersweet discovery, because logging was occuring in its habitat, just a stone’s throw from where the sighting was made.
Quolls are an endangered species - their population has undergone massive declines since European colonisation. They have huge home ranges of up to 5000 hectares in size and rely on large areas of intact habitat. The biggest threat to the survival of endangered spot-tailed quolls are habitat clearing, fragmentation and disturbance e.g. timber harvesting (logging).
So when the community learned that logging was ongoing in quoll habitat they contacted the environment minister’s office calling for the quoll’s immediate protection. On the 8th of May the minister announced on Facebook that the sighting had been verified and “...ongoing measures to protect its habitat from timber harvesting will be finalised in coming days.”
But a few days went by, with no further announcements.
Later, in an article published in the Age, the environment minister called the quoll a ‘national treasure’ and VicForests even committed to ‘willingly’ help set up a permanent protection zone.
As they should! Because in the Central Highlands, the government is required to protect 500 hectares of habitat in a ‘Special Protection Zone’ (SPZ) whenever a Spot-tailed Quoll is found. These ‘Special Protection Zones’ are designed to minimise impacts on endangered species, and given that logging and habitat loss are the biggest threats to the viability of the species, it is crucial that this sighting is permanently protected in a 500 hectare SPZ, and swiftly.
But two months on and we’re still waiting.