Fauna surveys and assessments using ATVs

Terrestrial Ecosystems have used ATVs on a variety of fauna surveys and assessments. An ATV enables staff to cover a much greater distance than when walking and allows access into areas that are generally inaccessible to 4WD vehicles or on foot. They also have the added bonus that we can carry a substantial quantity of equipment, specifically traps and bait. Below are some examples of where our ATVs have been an invaluable resource.

Long-tailed Dunnart survey on Granny Smith gold mine

We surveyed for the presence of Long-tailed Dunnarts (Sminthopsis longicaudata) using 840 aluminium box traps spread over an area of 6km x 6km and were cleared within four hours of sunrise for a period of 10 days. These go-almost-anywhere vehicles that were equipment with custom built trailers enabled all traps to be visited, checked and rebaited within the prescribed time frame.

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Plate 1. ATV and custom trailer putting out traps

Plate 2. Pregnant Dunnart caught during
field work

Mulgara trapping and translocation program

During a recent trapping and translocation program for mulgara in the Pilbara, we often had to check 1,600 baited aluminium box traps within four hours of sunrise, working in dense spinifex and shrubs to a metre high. After checking traps, we would then use the ATVs with an attached custom built trailer to retrieve traps, and move traps to a new location. This task was done with two quad bikes and one Yamaha Rhino with only 4 staff. Undertaking the same task on foot would have required a small army of people.

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Plate 3. Dense spinifex and shrubs with trap in foreground

Plate 4. Putting out traps using one of the ATVs

Search for Malleefowl mounds

In the open eucalypt woodland of the Fraser Range east of Norseman we used a four-wheel ATV to search a 2km x 2km mining tenement for Malleefowl mounds and map fauna habitat. Grid search lines were approximately 100m apart, which was wide enough so that the entire area between two grid lines could be seen and searched. Even old and long-unused mounds that had eroded almost back to ground level could be seen. With two people on-board, one could drive and search one side and the other could search the other side.

Northern Quolls

We have found the four-wheel ATV (Rhino) an invaluable asset in radio-tracking Northern Quoll and Mulgara in the Pilbara. Northern Quoll will typically travel between 2-5km per night, often in rocky and rugged terrain that is vegetated with spinifex to a metre high. We will typically search for Northern Quolls carrying a radio-transmitter by visiting all the elevated positions within 5-10km of the animals last known location. Mostly this is done in areas where there are few if any tracks. Areas that are traversed with the ATV would be almost impossible to access in a 4WD vehicle and it would take 3-5 days to walk the same distance that we can cover in one day using the ATV. The ATV has the added advantage that you can carry sufficient food and water, plus a GPS and a UHF radio for a day’s work, whereas when on foot, you need to continually return to the vehicle to replenish supplies.

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searching for NQ via radiotracking

Plate 5. Radio tracking from an elevated position

Have you used ATVs to provide cost effective and timely solution or to increase the efficiency of your day-to-day work. If so, we would love to hear about it.

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