THE fight to save the critically endangered bilby has faced a major setback after feral cats severely depleted a colony in a semi-wild sanctuary in western Queensland.
The cats entered an exclusion fence at Currawinya National Park, west of Cunnamulla, after part of the predator-proof fence rusted in wet weather.
Save the Bilby Fund co-founder Frank Manthey said although it was unclear how many bilbies had been killed, it was still a devastating blow to their efforts.
"Enough is enough. We've got to deal with our feral animal problem," Mr Manthey said.
A research team from Griffith University, led by Associate Professor Jean-Marc Hero, has been working with the Save the Bilby Fund and Environment and Heritage Protection scientist Peter McRae to monitor the bilbies at the park.
It is thought there were up to 80 bilbies inside the park before the cats got in.
The team recently noticed a number of cats inside the enclosure before realising it had been compromised.
"The bilby is such an iconic animal and to lose it would be a disaster," Mr Manthey said.
"It was an expensive lesson, but a good lesson to learn not to have all our eggs in one basket."
Mr Manthey said that while the fence was being fixed, further restoration efforts around the country were the key to saving the species.
He said more breeding programs, similar to one currently being run at Dreamworld, were needed around the country.
To highlight the issue, Mr Manthey encouraged schools and businesses to get involved in the upcoming Schools Bilby Day on September 7.
"We want schools and businesses to go green on that Friday," he said.
"If they all chip in a few dollars, not only can we put the foot netting on that fence, but it can go towards a whole lot of other restoration programs."
For more information visit savethebilbyfund.org.