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Western ground parrots captured for breeding project

Measuring a western ground parrot captured at Cape Arid National Park
Measuring a western ground parrot captured at Cape Arid National Park Alan Danks

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has captured two critically endangered western ground parrots in the wild to bolster a captive breeding trial.

Parks and Wildlife regional ecologist Sarah Comer led a team of department staff and volunteers on a survey and capture project in Cape Arid National Park over the last two weeks.

Ms Comer said while a large fire at Cape Arid last month had impacted on the birds’ habitat, the survey team found enough birds to proceed with the project.

“Under the circumstances we were very pleased with the number of western ground parrot calls we detected and of course, with the trapping of two birds, a male and female, this week.”

The western ground parrots have been sent to Perth Zoo, where a captive breeding program has been underway since July 2014.

Ms Comer said the new additions would enhance the breeding chances and genetic diversity of the captive birds during future breeding attempts.

“If the captive breeding trial proves successful it will provide a source of birds for potential re-introduction into areas where Parks and Wildlife has been successful in reducing threats such as introduced predators,” she said.

“The department’s Western Shield program and in particular the use of the new cat-specific bait Eradicat™ is playing an integral part in achieving this.”

The Cape Arid survey team also carried out intensive trapping and baiting around the burn perimeter, removing a number of feral cats from remaining western ground parrot habitat.

Ms Comer said the Friends of the Western Ground Parrot had donated $20,000 towards the survey and capture project, with the remainder of the funding provided by Parks and Wildlife and South Coast NRM.

“We are very appreciative of the time, effort and funds these dedicated western ground parrot volunteers contribute to an important conservation project,” she said.

“We hope to return to Cape Arid in autumn to try and trap several more birds for the captive breeding program.”

The State Government invested approximately $450,000 in 2014-15 in support of the department’s western ground parrot recovery actions.

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