This project combines research, predator control and conservation to improve the resilience of threatened fauna to fire in the Otways.

The project will determine population density of cats and foxes in three regions intensively managed for fire risk, and generate insight into the movement of feral cats and how they respond to planned burning. 

Lethal control of cats and foxes will be conducted pre- and post-fire in areas undergoing planned burning in coordination with land managers, along with trials of alternative burning to produce ‘patchy’ fire scars and retain more unburnt habitat post-fire.

The project will trial different designs of artificial refuge to identify which designs are cost-effective. The delivery team will work closely with partners at Eastern Maar Aboriginal Corporation (EMAC) to explore and incorporate their cultural values into the burns program within Gadabunud and Keeray Whurrong country – a core area for fuel reduction burns – and strengthen the communication networks between land managers, researchers, Traditional Owners and the community.

Fox and feral cat control in planned-burn landscapes to protect threatened species in the Otway Ranges

Deer & Pig Eradication

Phytophthora Management

Small Mammal Conservation

Rewilding Species

Delivery & Supporting Partners

The project team will be led by Dr Jack Pascoe (Conservation and Research Program, Conservation Ecology Centre) and includes Mark Le Pla (Conservation Ecology Centre and University of Melbourne), Dr Bronwyn Hradsky (University of Melbourne), Professor Brendan Wintle (University of Melbourne), Dr Barbara Wilson and Dr Mark Garkaklis (Barbara Wilson Pty Ltd), and Dr Phoebe Burns (Zoos Victoria).

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Linkages With Other Sub-Projects

This project links directly with the Small Mammal Conservation Project through its  targeted research assessing the diet of feral cats and foxes in the Otway Ranges, the potential of mesopredator release in the Eastern Otways and the installation and operationalisation of artificial refuges post-fire.  Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) and Barbara Wilson Pty. Ltd. are represented on both project delivery teams.

Working with EMAC, the project provides opportunity for Traditional Owners to have direct input into how their country is managed; this will link with the Pig and Deer Management Project in which Traditional Owners will work with the project team to identify cultural assets to be protected.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative?

The Australian Government’s Wild Otway initiative is a three-year $6m commitment towards threatened species management and pest animal control in the greater Otway’s region. The Initiative includes the delivery of a broad and inclusive environmental community grants program and five commissioned sub-projects, which include pig and deer eradication, fox and cat management, Phytophthora (a plant pathogen) management, small mammal conservation and rewilding in the Otways.

How do I find out more?
Australian Government Wild Otways Initiative website page will be updated regularly with more information when the on-ground works begin. Our CCMA media channels will also be an outlet for project updates. If you would like to receive our regular project Communique please subscribe below to be apart of our distribution below.

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Where is the Initiative being delivered?

The project area for the initiative covers the area from Jan Juc/Bells Beach to Peterborough, and the Great Otway National Park and hinterlands (Otways Region) in South West Victoria.

How long does the Initiative go for?

The initiative will be delivered in the Greater Otways region of Victoria over the next three years to June 2023.

This project is support by the Corangamite CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund. This project will run until 2023.