Populations of the critically-endangered woylie (Bettongia penicillata) are bouncing back in Batalling State forest near Collie.

Western Shield, the lead wildlife recovery program at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, closely monitors populations of native species in targeted bushland areas.

Dr Michelle Drew, zoologist with Western Shield said, “In 2023 we saw a substantial increase in the number of woylies at Batalling with 34 individuals captured, compared to 19 in 2022, and just two in 2019.

“All but two of the 34 animals captured were individuals that hadn’t previously been recorded, and every female captured had pouch young. This is a positive sign for further population growth.”

The woylie’s survival rate has been bolstered in the Batalling area, in-part due to an increase in fox management over the last two years, made possible by funding from the Alcoa Foundation.

In a first for the area, the funding has also enabled the integration of Eradicat®, a feral cat-specific product, into the management program.

Increased management appears to have also improved the outcomes for the vulnerable chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii) with nine individuals captured during the 2023 monitoring, five of which had not been trapped previously.

In a comparable area of forest just a few kilometres away where introduced predators are not managed, no woylies were recorded and only two chuditch were captured during the same season.

“Such encouraging results help keep everyone motivated with the ultimate goal of ensuring these threatened species continue to thrive in the northern jarrah forest,” Dr Drew said.