Calling wildlife warriors

Peter Moyers Anglican Community School students meet a snake during the Western Shield action pack launch.
Peter Moyers Anglican Community School students meet a snake during the Western Shield action pack launch.

Animals, wildlife officers and Environment Minister Albert Jacob visited Peter Moyes Anglican Community School on February 26 to launch the Western Shield action pack educational resource.

Mr Jacob said the launch came with unusual visitors, including the snake, so children could understand the importance of wildlife.

“Kids are growing up in an urban environment,” he said.

“For the next generation that’s coming through, it’s an opportunity to see and touch and feel WA fauna.

“WA is so important in a biodiversity sense.

“Through education, we can encourage a greater awareness of the need to conserve the state’s precious native wildlife in a vital and practical way.

“To date, more than 108,000 students have participated in Western Shield school activities run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.”

The Western Shield program aims to control foxes and feral cats that threaten native wildlife, and the minister said the woylie encapsulated its success.

Mr Jacob said that in the 1990s, the woylie population in the South-West was endangered, but after the introduction of the Western Shield program, it bounced back.

“They were removed from the endangered species list (in 1999), they were thriving,” he said.

Since then, woylie numbers have declined rapidly again, resulting in them being relisted as endangered in 2008 and critically endangered in 2013.

Mr Jacob said the baiting program was the best way of helping vulnerable native animals such as woylies, Gilbert’s potoroos, western ground parrots and western swamp tortoises.

“The reason that Western Shield has been so successful is because it’s targeted,” he said.

“The baits don’t affect any native animals, but they do affect anything that’s introduced.

“We are now integrating the bait Eradicat to target feral cats as part of our regular operations in key areas of the state.

“Eradicat has been trialled successfully in the arid zone and there have been some early positive signs from its use on the south coast with recovery of species like the quenda.”

The action pack is designed for years 4 to 6 and was developed in line with curriculum learning area outcomes.

It includes teacher’s notes, classroom activities, work sheets and information on things students can do to help WA’s native wildlife.

The baiting program takes place across WA, including reserves in the Perth Hills and Shire of Gingin.