Prisoners aid survival of phascogale

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser
Albany Regional Prison’s cabinet shop instructor Stuart Sadler with a prisoner who helped make 199 nesting boxes.
Camera IconAlbany Regional Prison’s cabinet shop instructor Stuart Sadler with a prisoner who helped make 199 nesting boxes. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

Prisoners at Albany Regional Prison have been hands-on in helping protect a threatened species.

In the past few months, they have made 199 nesting boxes to help conserve a little-known marsupial, the red-tailed phascogale.

The small marsupial, threatened by the loss of its habitat and predation by foxes and feral cats, can be found in the Stirling Range National Park.

The prison’s cabinet shop instructor Stuart Sadler supervised prisoners as they built the nesting boxes using materials provided by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

He said it was good for the prisoners to know they were making a difference.

“The project gave them an opportunity to gain a Certificate II in Furnishings — and at the same time they boosted their maths, literacy, communication and teamwork skills, not to mention their ability to handle power tools,” he said. “The prisoners like to feel they can give back to the community. I’m really proud of them.”

One of the prisoners involved in the project said it felt good doing something to help save the species.

“Stu came to us and said we were going to make some boxes for the phascogales,” he said.

“We made one up and then we made almost 200 of them.

“I had never even heard of a phascogale before. We all joked about it and how we didn’t even know how to pronounce it.”

He said he achieved his Certificate II through the project. “We all joked about when we got out we would go and look up a tree for the boxes. We made 200 of them so might be able to find one,” he said

DBCA is installing the boxes in trees on the higher slopes of the national park, just in time for breeding season.

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