Dog teams train for quoll search

Dog detection teams are in training in an effort to support Tiger Quoll research, as conservation efforts ramp up following the rediscovery of the endangered species in the Otways last year.

A Tiger Quoll and her joeys in Cape Otway.  Photo: ALI CORKE
A Tiger Quoll and her joeys in Cape Otway. Photo: ALI CORKE

The Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) is working in conjunction with South-West Victorian Dogs and community volunteers to train dogs to search for and detect Tiger Quoll scats.

DNA tests undertaken on faeces collected from an animal sighted near Lorne confirmed it was a Tiger Quoll (Dasyrus maculatus),  followed by another reported sighting in the Cape Otway area.

CEC Conservation Coordinator Dr Jack Pascoe said there are currently 10 dog teams in training.

“The Otway’s Conservation Dog Team has the potential to discover much more about the ecology of the Otway’s quoll population including their distribution, genetic diversity and relatedness.”

“We hope early this year the dogs will be able to positively identify Tiger Quoll scats from a lineup of samples.

“Later in the year we hope to have most of the dog teams fully trained for deployment for field surveys.”

South West Victorian Dogs Program Developer Luke Edwards said the program involves teaching the dogs to identify the Tiger Quoll scats through a reward system.

Dr Pascoe said increased information on the quoll population would assist in the development and application of effective and practical conservation solutions.

In another boost to conservation efforts, the CEC has purchased 21 acres of land for the creation of a habitat corridor for local wildlife.

The property, which will link to the Great Otway National Park, will provide a safe haven for Tiger Quolls, koalas, and other species and is hoped to become a model for future habitat restoration.

For further information or to become a volunteer contact CEC on 5237 9297.

This story featured in the the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

One of the four quoll joeys born at CEC last year. Photo: ALI CORKE
One of the four quoll joeys born at CEC last year. Photo: ALI CORKE

Want to find out more about the work of  the CEC in Cape Otway?

Visit the CEC website where you can find out more about the Tiger Quoll Conservation Program and other conservation programs underway.

Want to get involved in other volunteering opportunities along the coast?

Visit the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee volunteer page here.

Related blog post/s:

sitting-tiger-quoll-lucia-griggi-300x200Endangered Tiger Quoll rediscovered near Lorne

Endangered Tiger Quoll rediscovered near Lorne

Have you heard the news?  It seems that the endangered Tiger Quoll has made a reappearance in our region.

ABC Radio’s World Today Program this week announced the first confirmed sighting of the critically endangered species in a decade, with  holidaymakers near Lorne catching a glimpse of an endangered marsupial.

Experts hope more Tiger Quoll sightings occur in the future. (Photo: Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre)

Matt Moreton and Joanne Wood heard a thud on their back deck last month.  When the couple went outside to investigate, they saw an unusual animal which resembled an oversized, ginger and white spotted possum.

Mr. Moreton and Ms. Wood collected samples shortly after the animal defecated outside their laundry door. Tests on the animal’s faeces by the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centrehave confirmed that it was in fact a Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus).

Ms. Wood told the Geelong Advertiser she had never seen anything like the marsupial before.

Click here to read the full transcript from ABC Radio’s World Today Program.

Click here to access the Geelong Advertiser Article (includes a very cute photo of a baby Tiger Quoll!).

What does this sighting mean for the fate of Tiger Quolls?

This sighting indicates there are still some isolated populations of  Tiger Quoll in the Otway Ranges.

The Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre is training dogs to detect Tiger Quoll faeces.  Locating their faeces will result in more effective conservation efforts and will hopefully lead to more sightings in the future.

What are Tiger Quolls?

They are the largest carnivorous marsupial remaining on mainland Australia. Tiger Quolls have a red-brown to dark brown fur and are covered with distinct white spots which vary in size. They have sharp teeth and a long snout and tail.

Tiger Quolls mostly hunt at night as they are nocturnal creatures. The majority of their diet consists of gliders, possums, rabbits, and even small wallabies. Their diet also consists of carrion (dead animals), birds, eggs, reptiles and invertebrates.

They become completely independent of their mothers at 18 months old and have a life span of about five years.

In the past, Tiger Quolls were commonly found in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. Unfortunately since European settlement, they have become an endangered species.

Check out what a Tiger Quoll looks like in this short YouTube clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_M23mYaoTo
Why are Tiger Quolls threatened?

There are few areas where Tiger quolls can exist without being affected by humans. So, they are particularly susceptible to a number of threats including land clearing, introduced species, baits and fire.

Tiger Quolls are found in a variety of dense habitats from rainforests to woodlands. They prefer to live and hide in caves, hollow logs, burrows and rock crevices. Sadly, these habitats are often destroyed.

Introduced species such as foxes and cats threaten the existence of Tiger quolls as they compete for their food and are potential predators.

Tiger Quolls are also highly susceptible to the baits used to control these introduced species.

Cats and foxes are highly prevalent on the Surf Coast. To learn more about these predators check out these links:

Who let the cats out?  A blog about cat curfews on the Surf Coast.

Predatory pests targeted in Juc  A blog about fox trapping in Jan Juc.

Sensors to stop stealthy predators  A blog about infrared camera trapping to monitor predators.

How can I help?

  • Find out if you live in an area which is likely to be Tiger Quoll habitat – If so, ensure the vegetation in and around your property is maintained regularly.
  • Take care when driving through areas where Tiger Quoll is known to live. Road-related deaths are quite common for this species, as they often place themselves in danger when scavenging for road kill.
  • Keep your pets indoors or fenced in at night so they don’t prey on native animals.
  • Participate in revegetation and tree-planting initiatives in your local area.

For more information click here to access this fact sheet on quolls in Australia.