Logging of unburnt habitat of Endangered Hastings River Mouse Must Stop

NEFA is calling on State and Federal Governments to intervene to immediately halt the Forestry Corporation's grossly irresponsible logging of unburnt habitat of the nationally endangered Hastings River Mouse in Styx River State Forest (east of Armidale).

The Hastings River Mouse is one of the endangered species most severely impacted by the fires in Australia, yet the Forestry Corporation are criminally logging the last remaining unburnt patch of known habitat in Styx River State Forest, said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

Picture has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license
Original source: Hasting River Mouse captures Uploaded by berichard
Author: Doug Beckers

"In their 'immediate' response the NSW Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment identified the Hastings River Mouse as the third most fire impacted threatened animal in NSW with 82% of its known localities burnt.

"In February the Commonwealth's Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel identified the Hastings River Mouse as one of 113 animals nationally in most urgent need of emergency action over the coming weeks and months. It was the mammal with the second highest vulnerability for fire and post-fire mortality.

 "The Expert Panel identified 'protecting unburnt areas within or adjacent to recently burnt ground that provide refuges' as 'essential'.

"The other essential action is to undertake surveys to identify how badly the Hastings River Mouse was affected by the fires before blundering about in its severely degraded habitat.

 "Two hundred of the 1,000 localities ever identified for this species are in Styx River State Forest, emphasising its importance for Hastings River Mouse.

"The only 5 localities that escaped burning in Styx River State Forest are where they are now logging.

"It is criminal that the Forestry Corporation are logging the only unburnt refuge known for the endangered Hastings River Mouse in Styx River State Forest, when they have no idea of how the fires affected this population.  

"The Forestry Corporation  may not care whether they are causing the extinction of a species, but surely someone in the State or Federal Governments should", Mr. Pugh said.

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Extracts from:

Rapid analysis of impacts of the 2019-20 fires on animal species, and prioritisation of species for management response – preliminary report. Report prepared for the Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel, 9 February 2020

The priority activities identified by the Expert Panel are listed here, with examples of the priority species, or species groups, that are likely to benefit from management aligned with that priority activity.

 Protecting unburnt areas within or adjacent to recently burnt ground that provide refuges.

Essential for all priority taxa.

 Rapid on-ground assessment for species and communities of concern (survey to establish extent of pop loss, and establish baseline for ongoing monitoring).

Essential for all priority taxa.

Carrying out rapid ground assessments of population status are crucial for understanding which management actions can be considered, and also to provide baseline data against which management intervention effectiveness can be measured, and the population trajectory can be monitored.

 Extracts from:

Recovery Plan for the Hastings River Mouse (Pseudomys oralis)

No experimental work on the response of the Hastings River Mouse to fire regimes is known. Current information is based on captures within sites that have been burnt by wildfires or by leaseholders for stock grazing. Thirteen individuals were captured at Boundary Creek in Forestland State Forest in 1986. The site was subsequently burnt by wildfire and three trapping surveys over eight years post-fire failed to trap any Hastings River Mouse. However, some 16 years later the Hastings River Mouse was captured in the area during 2001-2002. At Werrikimbe National Park three trapping surveys of a previously known Hastings River Mouse site have failed to locate individuals after fire.

 Timber harvesting impacts adversely on the Hastings River Mouse by reducing shelter provided by hollow logs and old-growth stems with butt cavities. Harvesting activities also open up the understorey and create roads and tracks potentially leading to increased predation pressure. The Hastings River Mouse has been found in logged areas (Meek et al 2003), however, the largest and most stable populations located to date occur in unlogged old-growth forest (Townley 2000a).


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