The Department of Environment and Science is thrilled with the capture and release of 27 endangered Hastings River mice during a recent survey of a site in Main Range National Park as part of the Gondwana World Heritage Area Bushfire Recovery Project.
Senior Conservation Officer Dr Ian Gynther said there were fears for the Hastings River mouse population following the 2019-20 bushfires that impacted on the national park.
“In May, the team spent four nights in the national park, setting 250 traps and checking them each morning,” Dr Gynther said.
“I’m pleased to say we captured 27 Hastings River mice, which is a record number for this long-term monitoring site.
“Prior to this latest survey, the greatest number of individuals we captured at the site in one week’s trapping was 16.
“Each individual was measured, weighed, ear-tagged to allow for future identification, sampled for DNA and then released.
“Programs like this are crucial for us to better understand species numbers after a major event like a bushfire, and to help manage and conserve these precious species and their habitats.
“The best part of the program was the relief we all felt each time we opened a trap and found another live mouse.”
Dr Gynther said conservation officers conducted the survey in the Gambubal Section of Main Range National Park, northeast of Killarney.
“In this section of the park, the population was monitored annually from 2005 to 2016, except for 2011 when it was too wet to get there,” he said.
“Concerns about the conservation status of the Hastings River mouse have heightened, as reflected by the species’ recent change from vulnerable to endangered under Queensland’s legislation, matching its national status.
“This was largely due to the potential impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires across eastern Australia, which impacted about 70 percent of the species’ distribution.
“A post-fire assessment process identified the Hastings River mouse as one of the highest priority species for urgent management intervention.
“The surveys of priority species across the Gondwana World Heritage area is supported through the Commonwealth Government’s Bushfire recovery package for wildlife and their habitat.”
Hastings River Mouse fast facts
- It is rare and elusive
- South-east Queensland is the northern limit of the species’ national distribution
- The mouse is usually found at altitudes between 300m and 1200m
- Adults average about 135mm in body length and weigh about 90 grams
- They have bulging eyes and a characteristically rounded snout profile
- They eat a range of plant material, as well as fungi
- They shelter and nest in rock crevices, logs, cavities in tree bases or hollows left by burnt-out tree roots.