Success Stories

Local papers often features stories written and submitted by the PHBG.

We are always on the look for good news stories about people taking care of their patch, or helping others get on top of their weeds or feral animals.

We know many of you quietly get on with the job, but letting others know about your work can help motivate others that might not know where to start. Tips for overcoming common challenges are invaluable, especially for landholders new to the area.

Please contact Teele if you are aware of any local success stories. Email media@phbg.org or phone 0474 242 223.

Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group gets ready to launch on Pesky Pests

Learning about declared pests in schools just got easier through the new Peel Harvey Pesky Pests curriculum developed by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group(PHBG).


Educating children on the impacts and management of pests is a top priority by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG). Local educators have been contacted to take part in the newly developed education package, which uses pests as the context for learning about a range of different science concepts in the classroom.


The PHBG are launching the curriculum ‘Peel Harvey Pesky Pests’ at 4 pm on Monday 26th July at the Harvey Primary School. The launch event will provide teachers and interested community members the opportunity to see what the free education package includes, with

local children’s book illustrator Kylie Howarth as guest speaker.


Kylie illustrated the iconic bandicoot that has become the mascot of the Pesky Pests curriculum. “Professor Bandi” as he is known is terrified of foxes but is a wealth of knowledge on pests. Kylie will attend the launch to discuss her formative years in Harvey, her interest in local wildlife and how it has inspired her illustrations and books.


The Peel Harvey Pesky Pests education package includes lesson plans and learning activities. Unlike other packages, it also includes free access to Biosecurity Resource Boxes. These boxes contain a range of books, samples, equipment and even an iPad with an isoscope, which will allow teachers and students to look at weed samples in detail. The Biosecurity Resource Boxes can be loaned from the PHBG to complement classroom activities.


Hannah Lalor, an experienced science teacher, and education officer at the PHBG discussed how important these hands-on resources are to student engagement and successful learning outcomes.


‘They allow the content to be delivered in a practical and hands-on way. The Resource boxes include scat boards that show a range of different poo samples from pest, pet and native animals, which can be easily compared. There’s also resin blocks containing cotton bush seed pods allowing students to see the mechanisms behind how the seeds spread so easily,’ said Mrs Lalor.


The concept of the education package started back in 2017, when the PHBG engaged with local teachers to evaluate what biosecurity resources were available to teachers. Nicole Entz found that there were great resources; however, there was no cohesive framework or relevance directly to the established pests in the Peel Harvey region. This was followed by a successful application to the State NRM Program to develop a biosecurity curriculum and resources for students in the Peel Harvey region.

Retired teachers, Robyn and Chris Brown, wrote the first draft of the curriculum and gathered current resources that have been included in the package. Hannah Lalor has pulled it all together into a package easily accessible by teachers and available for download on the Peel Harvey Pesky Pests website www.schools.phbg.org.


Hannah shared that she really enjoyed working on this project and her main objective was to make sure it was easy for teachers to embed into their classrooms.


Dr Jonelle Cleland, Executive officer of the PHBG, was delighted with the end product.


‘We had a vision back in 2017 to put a school package together. We wanted kids to have both a structured and fun way of learning about pests in their surroundings. We were fortunate to have local educators jump on board early in the piece to make sure we fulfilled what teachers actually need in the classroom. Teachers are expected to cover so much content these days. We didn't want just another add on. Our package is an engaging set of resources that can give teachers the peace of mind that they are teaching to the curriculum with locally relevant content,’ said Dr Cleland.


The Peel Harvey Pesky Pests launch on the 26th July at Harvey Primary School is open to all interested members of the community, including parents, teachers and other interested organisations. Please register your attendance by following the booking link on www.schools.phbg.org

For more information about the Peel Harvey Pesky Pest education package, email schools@PHBG.org.

Signs on popular tourist walk educate on cotton bush control

The Serpentine National Park has benefitted from on-ground control activities and interpretive signage through the successful delivery of a project by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG).


The project delivered 4.5 days of cotton bush removal by the Ecojobs team and saw the installation of two interpretive signs along popular walking tracks within the Serpentine National Park.


The Federal Government’s Community Environment Program was developed to assist with small-scale, community-led environmental projects. The program funded over 22 million dollars worth of activities, with the finished date extended to 2021 to account for impacts from Covid-19.


Project applicants were invited to submit an application by their local Member of Parliament. The PHBG met with Andrew Hastie at the 2019 Food and Farm Fest to discuss project ideas and the Serpentine National Park was high on the agenda.


‘The SNP was the perfect choice for this grant opportunity because of the high social value of the site as well as the historical cotton bush infestations that were present,’ said weed education officer for the PHBG, Teele Hooper-Worrell.


‘The PHBG had received a high number of cotton bush reports from the community in and around the Serpentine National Park. Cotton bush is a declared weed that is highly invasive and it was impacting on the amenity of the popular tourist attraction as well as the possible threat of seed spread to surrounding agricultural properties.’


Federal Member for Canning, The Hon Andrew Hastie MP, recently visited the project site and congratulated the team on their hard work.

‘Cotton bush is a terrible weed that harms our region’s beautiful natural environment, as well as our agricultural productivity. The PHBG team are doing an excellent job combating cotton bush in Serpentine National Park and educating the community on effective control techniques. I commend the team for their efforts, and I’m pleased the Morrison Government has been able to support this important work.’


While on-ground works delivered immediate results, the inclusion of interpretive signage at the park aimed to increase the level of education around cotton bush control. Placed at prominent sites along popular walk trails the signs outline the impacts of cotton bush, an invasive declared weed. They also share the important message that for effective results the control methods for cotton bush changes as the plant matures.

Ms Hooper-Worrell explained that landholders could be forgiven for thinking that one size fits all for control of cotton bush, but actually, effective control techniques change as the plant gets older.


‘When cotton bush are small and soft they can be removed and left to degrade on the surface of the soil or slashed. As the plants mature and the stems become hard, slashing would only encourage them to reshoot. When the plants are older they need to be physically removed or treated with herbicide with any pods on the plant also needing to be removed and bagged to prevent further seed spread,’ She said.


Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions' Parks and Wildlife Service, provided access and support to the work being done within the park as well as installed the signs.


With Narrow leaf Cotton bush a declared pest weed in Western Australia, the control of this species in Serpentine National Park has been included in the Weed Action Plan for the Park and actively managed for the past several years,’ Senior Ranger, Paul Tholen said.


‘The persistence of this weed seems to be due to the difficulty in removing the mature plants from hard to get to places and the seed from these plants then reinvade areas previously treated.


‘This is why volunteers are so valuable in contributing to the control of this invasive species. Volunteers are able to selectively remove mature plants from the edge of waterways, along sloping sections of walk trails and deep into thick bushland to remove the mature plants and stop the spread of windblown seed. Without volunteers, weeds such as cotton bush will continue to flourish, which is why the Department is supportive of this volunteer based initiative, brought together so diligently by the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group.


Work delivered as part of the Communities Environment Grant has helped the PHBG and DPaW to further strengthen their partnership. This has led to the development of ongoing works to extend cotton bush control with further funding opportunities.

Harvey weed workshops

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) held their popular Weed ID and Advice Workshops in Harvey earlier this year.


Over 50 landholders registered for the events held across two days with the high registration numbers indicating a large amount of interest in weed control across the Harvey area. Attendees brought in weed samples from the surrounding area for experts Greg Keighery and Andrew Mitchell to discuss.


‘Our weed experts bring decades of field experience in both bushland and pasture weed control. Landholders find it helpful to be able to bring in physical specimens for the experts to identify and discuss, says Teele Hooper-Worrell, weed education officer at the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group.


‘Very often our attendees recognise the samples bought in by others and each workshop becomes an interactive discussion about the local weed issues and how to control weeds and prevent their spread.’


Samples were predominantly summer weeds due to the timing of the events and included wireweed, melon, thistle varieties and dock. There was a marked difference in the types of weeds that were present compared to previous PHBG weed workshops, held later in the year and featuring winter weeds.


Identification of weeds is the first step to effective control. It allows landholders to understand how the weed may have spread to their property and to find the most effective control methods moving forward. All attendees to the weed workshop took home the Southern Weeds and their Control resource which supports ongoing control and identification.


‘For landholders that are interested in attending a future Weed ID and Advice Workshops the best thing to do is follow the PHBG Facebook page and sign up to our quarterly newsletter. This way they are informed of our upcoming events,’ Ms Hooper-Worrell said.

Feral pigs in the spotlight; national, state and local voices in the mix

With talk about the National Feral Pig Action Plan hitting the headlines, the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group was keen to raise awareness of local engagement on the plan and how WA has got a head start with its own pig strategy and local efforts.


"Dr Heather Channon, the National Feral Pig Management Coordinator, should be commended on her consultative approach," said Dr Jonelle Cleland of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG).


"Dr Channon hit the ground running. I was surprised that a newly appointed national coordinator would jump on the phone and seek direct input from community groups. Moreso, the PHBG is located in Western Australia and is a relative newcomer to the feral pig space compared to other longstanding groups.


"I had the opportunity to explain that feral pigs are being reported as an increasing problem, from the hills to the lowlands. Beyond the significant damage to horticultural crops, pastures and natural areas, some members of the public are frustrated, and even frightened, by the criminal element associated with the illegal seeding and harvesting feral pigs. Property damage and threatening behaviour is not uncommon.

"The PHBG also was able to explain to Dr Channon that building local capacity to monitor and control feral pigs using humane and effective methods was a high priority for the group. The PHBG has already hosted two TAFE accredited courses on vertebrate pest management in the region. This has seen Central TAFE come down from Carnarvon to deliver the week long course to community members, field officers and private contractors active in the region," she said.


Recently, the PHBG purchased an innovative trapping system developed by a local WA couple. Following the five step mantra of pre-feeding, pre-feeding, pre-feeding, pre-feeding and patience it assisted two landholders working along their shared property boundary to trap a mob of pigs that were damaging the creekline and surrounds.


"You just need a couple of wins like this to hopefully bring others on board in an area. Indeed, State and national governments have a role in bringing good news stories together and packaging them for general consumption. This will help to increase wider support for community groups that are putting in the hard yards and adopting best management practices," Dr Cleland said.

Dr Cleland was also quick to point out the strong drive of Dr Peter Adams, from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, to see the adoption of the WA Feral Pig Strategy and the bringing together of key stakeholders as members of an inaugural steering group.


The Department facilitated the initial meeting of the steering group. However, the Department is not going to perform this function in an ongoing capacity - it wants the steering group to be a self-driven collective of private, commercial and community interests that advocate for change.


"The PHBG certainly recognises the power of bottom up advocacy. At the same time, it also does not want the State Government to step out. The State Government is well placed to fund an independent facilitator to make sure these sorts of groups function well. It takes skill to bring a diverse set of stakeholders together to develop a shared vision and to keep things moving at a good pace.


"Critically, the State Government needs to be sitting at the table as the manager of vast tracts of land in this State.


"There is also an ongoing need for government backed research, development and extension on monitoring and control options for all our costly invasive species, including feral pigs. Industry and community are keen to assist with applied research but they cannot be expected to run robust trials without funding," Dr Cleland said.

In response to community reports of the declared weed bridal creeper the City of Mandurah partnered up with the Peel Harvey and Leschenault Biosecurity Group's to host a workshop on effective control methods.

The Shire of Harvey has responded to a community call for action by controlling arum lily in James Rodgers Reserve in Leschenault. The Reserve holds significance in the history of European settlement of the region.

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) have chosen Harvey for their popular Weed ID and Advice Workshop, to be held on the 12 th and 13th of March, 2021.

In response to community reports of fox activity in the area surrounding Marlee Reserve, the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group coordinated the placement of 13 fox traps on private property.

A collaboration between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) led to five days of cotton bush removal in the Serpentine National Park.

So popular was the Weed ID and Advice Workshop, two sessions were run instead of just the one that had been originally planned.

Weed heads up - Summertime

During summer the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) is asking landholders to keep an eye out for cotton bush and apple of Sodom.


rabbit control Registrations double

The 2019 calicivirus release was the largest yet with the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) delivering the control agent to over 100 sites across five local government authorities.

2019 AGM

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) hosted their annual general meeting at the Coolup Community Hall on Wednesday the 27th of February, 2019.



FeralScan Workshop

The ability for land managers to respond to feral animal impacts got a boost recently as a series of workshops across WA demonstrated the use of the free FeralScan resource.

weeds welcome spring

Spring heralds warmer days, lush green grass and flowers. Many declared weeds are at their most colourful in spring.

Landholder holding up a picture of the site before cotton bush removal

Hard work and persistence key to cotton bush win

A Meelon property once covered in cotton bush is now cleared and productive thanks to long term planning and hard work.

Trailer full of cotton bush

Heads up results in cotton bush control

“It was very frustrating trying to control cotton bush that was re-infesting my property from an established problem over a fence. I was so relieved when my friendly heads up led to a massive effort by the new landowner to control and remove the cotton bush on his property”

Rabbit trying to eat a seedling through a wire guard

Partnerships lead to decrease in rabbit numbers

In late 2018 the PHBG released the RHDV1 K5 strain of the rabbit calicivirus at over 50 sites.