The elusive spotted-tailed quoll is out on the prowl this breeding season, searching for a new mate...and poultry.
James Dawson from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) is reminding landowners to quoll-proof hen houses to protect chooks and keep quolls safe over the next few months.
“This time of year young male quolls will often go exploring beyond their huge home ranges and follow creek-lines to hunt for prey like gliders, possums, rabbits, and birds,” Mr Dawson said.
“They can show up anywhere, including farms where they find abundant, accessible food such as rabbits and poultry. Sometimes the quolls get caught up in the wire and become trapped entering or existing the hen house.
“So in order to protect your hens and keep threatened species safe, we’ve developed a guide to help chook owners design quoll-proof hen houses.
“The design guide highlights the use of key features such as roofs, buried footings and perched entrances,” Mr Dawson said.
Historically, quolls were treated as pests and were trapped or shot to protect farm animals.
Nowadays spotted-tailed quolls are listed as an endangered species and are a rare but welcome sighting in the landscape.
Richard Green from Monga in NSW has recently had to revisit his chook pen design after discovering a quoll in his carefully constructed hen house.
Red Head-based landowner Gerard Withford recently suspected he had a number of his chooks taken by foxes from his property on the north coast.
“We’ve seen plenty of foxes here over the years and when some of our chooks were taken, they were the obvious culprits to blame” Mr Withford said.
“I borrowed a large cage trap to try and get rid of them and was blown away to discover a young male quoll in the trap one morning.
“The designs in the resource supplied to me by the Saving our Species program have highlighted that I should trench and bury the exterior of the enclosure, so it’s been a welcome experience!”
The Protect your Chooks and Save our Quolls design resource is available for free download at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/quollproof.htm