Community plays its part in protecting threatened turtles in Gunbower Forest

Residents around Gunbower Forest in the state’s north have played an important role in protecting a threatened turtle species during its breeding season.

Each year, broad-shelled turtles that call the forest home move from their waterholes into the forest to nest and lay eggs.

Adrian Martins, from the North Central Catchment Management Authority, said turtle numbers in the northern part of the catchment had declined between 69 and 91 per cent in the past 40 years.

Mr Martins said recent research suggested that 98 per cent of turtle eggs were eaten, with foxes the main culprit.

He said the CMA worked with Turtles Australia during the breeding season to protect nests.

But local communities also play an important role by reporting sightings of nests and turtles, and sometimes taking steps to protect nests themselves.

Mr Martins said about 15 nests were discovered by members of the public and subsequently protected by Turtles Australia this season.

“Unfortunately our volunteers recorded about 300 disturbed nests, which shows how big a threat foxes are to the turtle population,” he said.