Learn how to help platypuses

January 17, 2018

Benalla’s Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Learning Centre will host a free talk on platypus ecology at 3pm on Wednesday, January 24.

The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is working with Benalla Rural City Council to carry-out a drawdown of Lake Benalla, which starts on January 29 and during the process ecologists will monitor platypus numbers.

The aim of the drawdown is to control the noxious weed cabomba, which is a serious threat to water quality, human safety, lake aesthetics and native flora and fauna.

Goulburn Broken CMA project co-ordinator Tim Barlow said as well as smothering native aquatic vegetation that provided valuable habitat for animals, fish and waterbugs, cabomba also clogged pumps and filters.

‘‘We are aware there are platypus in the area, which is why we have asked Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC) researchers to conduct the survey before the lake level is lowered to make sure impact to the platypus population is minimised,’’ Mr Barlow said.

APC biologist Geoff Williams said early morning and late-evening survey sessions would be carried out from January 23 by experienced biologists to establish where platypus, especially breeding females and juveniles, and rakali (water rats) were located in the lake.

Residents can help by recording details of platypus sightings on the APC website:

‘‘Platypus and rakali are mobile animals and will adjust their activity patterns for a few weeks in response to the lake drawdown,’’ Mr Williams said.

‘‘We will also be on hand at the height of the drawdown to rescue and relocate any animals that might become stranded in pools within the lake.’’

Similar work will be undertaken by fish biologists to move any stranded native fish to the main watercourse of the Broken River, which will continue to run through the lake during the drawdown period.

Lowering the lake for a couple of months will expose the cabomba to air and dry it out.

This is the most effective and efficient way to get rid of the weed and is safer than using sprays or other chemicals.

Goulburn Broken CMA is working with Benalla Rural City Council and Goulburn-Murray Water on the project, which is funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

●To RSVP for the free information talk, email [email protected] or phone 58227700 by 3pm on Tuesday, January 24.

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