Feral pest invasion stopped by donated fence - 24 March 2015

The impact of feral pests threatening native animals at a sanctuary on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula has been greatly reduced, thanks to a donation of $45,000 from the R E Ross Trust to help build an exclusion fence. 

Senior conservation ranger at The Briars, Jarrod Ruch, said the specially designed ‘floppy top’ fence has all but eradicated pests from the historic Victorian property's 98 hectare enclosure. 

“We run a feral check internally once a week and there hasn’t been a single intrusion from foxes or cats since we built the fence early last year," he said. 

“We’re still seeing some rabbits, and once they’re all gone we can start to explore opportunities to introduce new species such as potoroos, bandicoots and bettongs to the sanctuary."

The popular tourist attraction at Mount Martha, which is managed by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, currently boasts kangaroos, wallabies, emus, koalas and paddymelons and wetland bird species, which had been regularly having their habitat disrupted by foxes, rabbits and feral cats. 

Mr Ruch worked with Waratah Fencing territory sales manager Mark Wells to come up with a new design to stop feral animals burrowing underneath or climbing over the top of the enclosure and killing the Australian wildlife.

“The original fence was a 2 metre game fence, which was more suited to deer, not endangered wildlife.  It had no floppy top or skirting, so cats and rabbits could easily get in,” Mr Ruch said.

“We’ve replaced the previous design with a 5 kilometre, 2 metre high ‘floppy top’ fence using Waratah Longlife netting and three electric wires. 

"It’s designed in such a way that predators can get out, but can’t get back in."

“With the support of Mount Martha Rotary Club, we’ve also installed 70cm wide skirting internally and externally along the fence line to prevent the rabbits from burrowing underneath.”

Mr Ruch said they've changed to 30mm netting for the skirting to prevent the smaller kittens from getting through.

“Now we’ve completed the external fence with such great results, we can get on with improving the habitat and eliminating the rabbits inside the sanctuary and continue our work protecting native animals and the environment.”

R E Trust was established in 1970 and is focused on three fields - social welfare, nature conservation and education of foreign students.