The Numbat Detector Dog project, funded in partnership with FAME and the Australian Government to protect habitats in WA where Numbats roam in unfenced reserves, is progressing quickly.
Following a comprehensive process seeking expressions of interest that attracted submissions from both Australia and New Zealand, then a review of experience, capacity and value for money, the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has secured contractors to undertake the project.
The successful contractors and their dogs will undertake a series of intensive, scientifically designed trials in March/April 2018 in Wheatbelt Conservation Reserves. These trials will test the effectiveness of purpose trained detector dogs in locating feral cats, with the aim of reducing the impact of feral cats on important populations of the threatened numbat.
The trials will involve multiple dogs and handlers working simultaneously to search for signs of feral cats while quantifying both detector dog and feral cat movements. This will not only test the effectiveness of the detector dogs for this purpose in this landscape, but also provide further insights into feral cat behaviour in these Wheatbelt reserves.
Additionally, nearly 100 remote sensing cameras have been deployed to monitor introduced predators, Numbats and other threatened fauna. Two dedicated community groups, the Numbat Taskforce and Project Numbat, have joined the project and are providing invaluable support for the camera monitoring.