There has been no adequate fauna survey of Herring Island to date. The Atlas of Victorian Wildlife.(CFL, 1989) records 38 species from the general area including Herring Island, of which all but 9 are indigenous (Appendix 2). However, some of these records date back a considerable time, spanning a period between, 1925 to the present. It is likely that species such as the platypus and short-beaked echidna have become locally extinct during this time. The Grey squirrel (Sciuris carolinensis), once naturalised in Melbourne's parkland, became extinct in the area in the 1950s (Strahan, 1988). Most of the indigenous species present in the vicinity of Herring Island are reasonably common throughout the metropolitan area. Exceptions are the long-billed corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) (state priority list); swift parrot (Lathamus discolor), grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), lesser long-eared bat (Nyctophilus geoffroyi) and Gould's wattled bat (Chalinolobus gouldii). These species are of significance within the Melbourne Region.
Birds comprise the largest component of Herring Island's fauna. There are 23 species of indigenous birds recorded from the area. It is not known how many of these species actually nest on Herring Island and a large number of Herring Island's avifauna are species associated with riparian habitats.
The comparatively small numbers of other indigenous fauna species recorded may simply be a function of inadequate surveying. Alternatively, this may be attributed to both pressures of urbanisation on wildlife, and to the annexation of Herring Island from the Yarra bank. With few exceptions (among them the occasional fox and rat), present terrestrial fauna populations recorded on Herring Island are either survivors of Herring Island's annexation, or have been deliberately introduced. While isolation from mainland populations increases the vulnerability of island fauna, in this case the island setting offers some protection from predatory animals such as dogs, cats and foxes. The latter are a major problem on Herring Island and pose a serious threat to the Island's native fauna. Foxes have been trapped on Herring Island recently as part of the "Foxwatch" urban fox research program undertaken by the Department of Conservation and Environment. It appears that the Island is used as a refuge for foxes whose territory extends into suburbs south of the Yarra, Control measures have been only temporarily successful. Constant monitoring and investigation of suitable methods for control are required to protect native fauna in the long term.
Several bird species inhabiting Herring Island are also regarded as pest species. Starlings and Indian Mynahs displace native birds and arboreal mammals from tree hollows. Blackbirds also compete for food, displace native species and are important dispersal agents for weeds such as blackberry and cotoneaster.
Effective fauna management on Herring Island will involve protection of existing habitat, replacement planting of indigenous vegetation to provide further natural habitat, pest animal and pest plant control (the latter destroys harbour for pest animals); and appropriate regulation of site works and visitor activities.
Protection of fauna in island reserves poses a considerable challenge (Saunders et al., 1987). Sustaining viable biotic populations on an island this size is virtually impossible, particularly given the degraded nature of Herring Island. For this reason, a major fauna re-introduction program is not advisable for Herring Island in the short term, as it is unlikely that populations established in this manner will be sustainable. However, the proposed revegetation program should considerably improve habitat, and encourage greater numbers of bird species in particular to Herring Island. At a later date, fauna re-introduction should be investigated.
To survey and monitor populations of indigenous fauna on Herring Island, and gain further information regarding their habitat requirements.
To monitor, and where possible, eradicate pest animals and plants which interfere with the welfare of indigenous fauna.
To increase community awareness of indigenous fauna and provide information regarding fauna conservation in this and other localities.
High / Ongoing
Survey and monitor Herring Island's fauna. Particular attention should be given to species of significance, and to reptiles and amphibians, for which no records exist.
Identify any significant habitats and protect them from possibly detrimental visitor and management activities.
Retain dead trees where safe to provide nesting sites, and gradually phase out exotic woody vegetation to avoid loss of habitat during revegetation. Nesting boxes may be required during this process. Low / Ongoing
Monitor the effects of visitor use and management practices.
Continue fox research on Herring Island and implement a program for the long term control of foxes.
Develop a habitat rehabilitation and enhancement program in conjunction with revegetation programs.
Investigate the long-term introduction of indigenous fauna species on the Island.