The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has continued ongoing bushfire support efforts by assisting ACT Parks and Conservation to evacuate 26 endangered Eastern Bettongs to Victoria when the Orroral Valley Fire threatened their habitat located in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
At Canberra International Airport, four members of the conservation team, along with Captain Graeme Shennan, re-sedated the small kangaroo-like marsupials in preparation for transport on an Air Force C-130J Hercules bound for Avalon Airport, Victoria, for temporary relocation in Mt Rothwell Nature Reserve.
“The environmental ecology in Canberra is quite sensitive and being able to move the bettongs to safety has been positive,” Captain Shennan said.
“It’s been great working with other agencies during this task. The crew have been very welcoming and supportive and appreciative of the work the ADF has been doing.
“I am proud of being part of the overall ADF bushfire assist effort – it’s been particularly trying with the fires around Canberra but it has definitely been something big to be a part of.”
“The work the ADF has been providing in support of our staff and the ESA has been a credit to the ADF and demonstrates the value of working in partnership.”
ACT Government Executive Group Manager Environment Ian Walker said he was pleased with the support the ADF has given to ACT Parks and Conservation.
“The Parks and Conservation service plays an important support role to the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) – they have staff on the frontline fighting fires and in the incident management team providing technical advice about the parks and reserves,” Mr Walker said.
“Having the ADF here in the ACT has certainly enabled us to shift the bettongs very quickly and that’s an important element.
“Day to day, the work the ADF has been providing in support of our staff and the ESA has been a credit to the ADF and demonstrates the value of working in partnership.”
The conservation team trapped the bettongs using chunks of pineapple as bait. Extra care was taken handling the animals with joeys in their pouches, as they are part of the breeding population program.
Bettongs are extinct in the wild on mainland Australia due to their main predator, the fox. Tasmania is the only place in Australia where the population remains secure.