Living in Baw Baw Shire means residents have the chance to come up close with native animals right on their doorsteps, from possums, birds and reptiles to bandicoots – that’s right, bandicoots; the township of Longwarry is one of the few remaining places the Southern Brown Bandicoot calls home.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot is listed as a threatened species in Victoria and endangered nationally, meaning areas like Bandicoot Walking Track Reserve in Longwarry important for the species survival. Work from both Council and volunteers has seen the reserve planted out with a variety of native species to provide suitable habitat for the small population of bandicoots found here.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot is about the same size as a small rabbit, meaning it has many natural predators to contend with. However, the biggest threat comes from feral and domestic cats roaming within the reserve, which threaten not only the bandicoots but many other species of wildlife.
Baw Baw Shire has in place a Community Law which invokes a 24 hour ‘cat curfew’, requiring all cat owners to keep their cats from wandering outside of their property. Residents are urged to ensure their cats are safely contained to help protect not only our native wildlife, but their pets as well; roaming domestic cats can be exposed to feral cats, which can injure or pass disease on to pets.
Safe Cat, Safe Wildlife is a program run by RSPCA and Zoos Victoria, which provides expert advice and ‘cat hacks’ on how to keep your cat happy and safe at home, while protecting our native wildlife.
As noted by West Ward Cr Tricia Jones
“The protection of any threatened species is very important, especially in our own backyard. It’s up to all of us as pet owners to be responsible, abide by our Local Laws and prevent our cats from roaming and threatening wildlife. Our fury friends are depending on us to do the right thing”.
Image: The Southern Brown Bandicoot