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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

16 February 2006

Rare marsupial discovered at Booderee

Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Booderee National Park today announced the surprise discovery of a rare White-footed Dunnart in the park.

"The White-footed Dunnart is a tiny carnivorous marsupial weighing only 20 to 30 grams. "

"We haven't seen one at the Park since 1980 and Park staff presumed it was extinct from Booderee."

"The species is listed as vulnerable under NSW law, and is sparsely and patchily distributed over a small range in south eastern NSW , so this find is great news for conservation," Mr Hunt said.

Park staff and ANU researchers found the Dunnart during a fauna survey, part of a $600,000 research project funded by the Australian Government to systematically survey what animals live in Booderee and how fire affects them.

The White-footed Dunnart, Sminthopsis leucopus, is a nocturnal marsupial, which rests in tree hollows, rotting logs, wood piles and similar sites during daylight hours. It feeds on invertebrates and lizards and up to eight young are born in the spring.

"Booderee National Park staff think the re-emergence of the Dunnart may be a result of their six year intensive fox baiting program. Regular wildlife monitoring is confirming the great response of native fauna populations when released from fox predation," Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said the Dunnart discovery is the latest result from this groundbreaking research project.

"Last year the research team found a couple of animal species never recorded in Booderee before, such as the eastern chestnut mouse Pseudomys gracilicaudatus."

"Fears that the summer wildfires two years ago might have devastated populations of the nationally endangered eastern bristlebirds Dasyornis brachypterus have also been allayed during the research project.

"Before the fires, it had escaped fox predators by retreating to impenetrable heathland, and with intensive and successful fox baiting after the fire it is now thriving," Mr Hunt said.

The $600,000 research project is a partnership between the Indigenous Wreck Bay Community, ANU field ecologists and Booderee National Park.

Media enquiries:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722

Commonwealth of Australia