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Posted on 06/05/2019 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Living with Wildlife on Phillip Island – Research Update


Phillip Island Nature Parks is using research to contribute to solutions for living with wildlife.

Phillip Island is a special place – home to a unique natural environment with wildlife populations that are admired by visitors from around the world.

Island ecosystems are unique because they have fewer species and, as a result of reduced competition and predation, some wildlife populations become more abundant than on the mainland.

On Phillip Island several species, including Cape Barren geese, Swamp wallabies and Brush-tailed possums, are considered in this category.

The recent drought conditions have also contributed to wildlife being more visible e.g. on roadsides and visiting new areas such as farms and gardens in their search for food and water.

All native wildlife is protected in Victoria and it is an offence to kill, take, control or harm wildlife under the Wildlife Act 1975. On Phillip Island, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), regulates protection and use of wildlife consistent with the Wildlife Act.

“As the major land managers on Phillip Island, we are proud of the contributions that have been made to the conservation of wildlife and habitat in conjunction with our stakeholders and community,” says Catherine Basterfield.

“Living with wildlife is what makes Phillip Island special. We also recognise that this can present challenges which must be tackled together as an informed community.”

“The Nature Parks is committed to working towards a framework to understand the positive and negative sociological, ecological and financial effects of abundant wildlife on Phillip Island. As land managers, we can contribute to this process through robust research programs and working together with DELWP, key stakeholders and our community for ethical and long term solutions.”

The Nature Parks’ 30-Year Conservation Vision – Beyond the Horizon aligns with DELWP’s Biodiversity 2037 Plan and Living with Wildlife Plan and was developed in consultation with community and key stakeholders. Their 5-Year Conservation Plan 2019-2023 contains actions specific to working together with landholders and community to understand and manage impacts from wildlife and to connect people with nature and wildlife.


Wildlife projects currently in progress are:

Cape Barren geese

  • The Nature Parks is monitoring the population size twice a year rather than every two years.
  • Island-wide counts demonstrate that the population has not grown over the past two years.  
  • Recently commenced project to measure the effects on crop productivity and pasture renovation with two Phillip Island landholders and Federation University. This will assess the impacts of Cape Barren geese on renovated pasture and forage crops. Phase 1 of this multi-year project and will last for 12 months.


Swamp wallabies
Research commenced in 2014 in relation to the movement of wallabies through the landscape of Phillip Island, their densities across the Island and their browsing impacts on habitat. Research shows that at least 10% of the total wallaby population is killed on the roads each year.


Brushtail possums

We are measuring survival and habitat use of captive raised possums, monitoring the population size at the Koala Reserve and Ventnor Koala Reserve and measuring the influence of possums browsing on bushland plants.


Wildlife population interactions

We are working to develop models informed by real data to assist us in predicting how changes in one species can influence others, for example how changing a prey species is likely to influence both its predators and other prey species. 


Ongoing fox control

As per DELWP’s Biodiversity 2037 Plan, the Nature Parks is identified as a partner in ensuring that Phillip and Churchill Islands maintain a fox free status. Fox introduction is an offence under Section 75A of Catchment and Land Protection Act.


Community engagement

We recognise the need for the community to be more involved in planning and have incorporated this into our recent conservation planning process. We will continue to engage with key stakeholders and our community towards solutions for Living with Wildlife on Phillip Island.


  • Anyone wishing to control wildlife must have an authorisation from DELWP. Landowners currently experiencing impacts from wildlife can apply for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW). Further information on ATCW’s is available at





Media Enquiries:

Roland Pick – Communications Executive

Tel: +613 5951 2825 Mobile: 0418 402 161 Email: