The state government says it won't change the classification of the Eastern Quoll, despite the animal being declared endangered by an international body.
The carnivorous marsupial, found only in Tasmania, was upgraded from 'near threatened' to 'endangered' this week by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List.
The species was believed to have been driven to extinction throughout mainland Australia after the introduction of red foxes, with the last of its kind recorded in Eastern Sydney more than 50 years ago.
While there has been public debate around the presence of foxes in Tasmania, it is believed the lack of these predators has allowed the Eastern Quoll to survive in the state.
However over the past 10 years, the IUCN suggests the species has seen its population decline by an estimated 50 per cent, bypassing the ‘vulnerable’ classification on the international list and progressing directly to ‘endangered’.
Although the animal was recognised as endangered in Australia under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity-Conservation Act in 2015, it did not meet the criteria at a state level.
A spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment this week said the department did “not believe there was evidence of ongoing declines that would see the species meet the criteria to be listed under the state’s Threatened Species Act”.
“The department will continue to review its own spotlight data as well as other relevant information on the species to identify if their status should be re-considered in future,” the spokesperson said.
Despite no change in its local status, the fight to protect the animal continues across the state with programs dedicated to maintaining its population.
The Tasmanian Quoll Conservation Program, supported by DPIPWE, was established in 2010 through four Tasmanian wildlife sanctuaries, including Trowunna Wildlife Park at Mole Creek.
Sanctuary manager Emily Duggan said the protection of the species was now at a critical point.
“It is alarming to see the species skip a category on the IUCN classification scale,” she said.
“I think it would be more alarming to see the species remain either at its previous classification or not be given the status it deserves to reflect its current situation and potentially risk complacency in respect to action around its conservation.”
In 2016, Trowunna saw the birth of 24 Eastern Quoll joeys.