The Plains Mouse is a protected species under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. As part of Carrapateena’s approvals pathway, OZ had to establish an offset area of suitable habitat for conservation. The elusive Plains Mouse hadn’t been spotted at Carrapateena since 2013 so the recent sighting at the Northern Offset area was great news.
OZ Minerals Carrapateena established the Plains Mouse conservation project in partnership with engineering consultancy Jacobs, non-for-profit Nature Foundation South Australia and OZ Minerals pastoralist neighbours at South Gap Pastoral Station.
Camera traps at eleven locations in the Northern offset provided low-impact, year-round surveillance of the mouse. Nature Foundation SA working in collaboration with OZ Minerals refined the detection methodology, which aligns to objectives within the National Recovery Plan, allowing them to obtain a more accurate understanding of population response dynamics following large rain events which are the catalyst for boom cycles.
Over the course of 2021, they saw the results of surveillance efforts with the first sighting of the nationally protected species on the Northern offset. Detection provides proof of presence at the site for the Commonwealth Government and a baseline from which further work can quantify future population trends.
This sighting is so exciting because it will allow the establishment of baseline conditions on the species, including the distribution and condition of the plains mouse habitat. It will also help to manage predation pressure and improve knowledge of local target species populations including how they respond to management locally.