Joint media release: French Island safe haven for native species

20 September 2020

The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Member for Flinders

French Island will become a safe haven for hundreds of species of birds, marsupials and endangered native animals, thanks to an Environment Restoration Fund (ERF) investment in eradicating feral cats.

The Morrison Government will contribute $335,000 through the ERF to help establish the wildlife safe haven just 60 kilometres south east of Melbourne protecting species such as the King Quail, Orange-Bellied Parrot and Long-nosed Potoroo.

“French Island is a wonderful, ecological diverse place that is home to over 580 indigenous plant species and more than 230 bird species,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said today.

“Once fully predator free, safe havens like French Island, can prove vital in establishing insurance populations, maintaining habitat for migratory birds and repopulating areas after they have been impacted by bushfires and other emergencies.

“Through the ERF we are looking to significantly broaden the nation’s network of safe havens in line with the Morrison Government’s Threatened Species Strategy.”

Along with French Island, Bruny Island, Kangaroo Island, Christmas Island and Dirk Hartog Island have been identified as priority islands for feral cat eradication under the Strategy.

More than 1,100 feral cats have already been removed from French Island to date, with an estimated population of 100 feral cats remaining in what has been an ongoing challenge.

Across Australia each day feral cats alone are killing close to eight million animals.

The Member for Flinders Greg Hunt said the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA), Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare have been working collaboratively with landowners to undertake a feral cat control program on the island which is already free of one of the most dangerous of feral predators, the European Red Fox.

“Tens of thousands of waterbirds from around the world flock to French Island every year as part of their life cycle and recently, Zoos Victoria introduced the Eastern Barred Bandicoot,” Mr Hunt said.

“This program to eradicate feral cats completely will not only help local populations but help protect the future of mainland species and it builds on some outstanding work from the local community.”

Ongoing investment under the Environment Restoration Fund Safe Havens commitment will support conservation efforts to build on a strategic national network of safe havens that protects the mammals most in need. It also reflects the Morrison Government’s commitment to partnering with local communities, like those around the Mornington Peninsula, to achieve lasting environmental outcomes.