Monday, July 20, 2009

Wildlife Bytes 14/7/09

Wildlife Protection Association of Australia

Majura Kill Over

The Department of Defence has finished its cull of 7,000 kangaroos on a site in Canberra. The Department began culling the kangaroos in early May saying they had reached unsustainable levels at the Majura training area. About 4,000 animals were culled in nine days before the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal granted a temporary stay on the cull while it heard an appeal from animal rights group. Animal Liberation challenged the granting of the cull licence, arguing there was sufficient inaccuracy in the assessment of kangaroo numbers on the land. In late June the tribunal dismissed the appeal, saying there was compelling evidence that the animals were damaging native grasslands. The Defence Department says it restarted the cull on the same day and finished killing the animals just over a week ago. *ABC

Callum Brae

The Callum Brae shooting seems to be finished although a couple of shots have since been heard. Most people have been devastated by the shooting. We have photos and incident reports which will go online. Special thanks to those brave souls who drove around looking for the shooters, and those who walked around the perimeters of the Reserves. We know now that as Callum Brae kangaroos are being killed in the Nature Reserve, a couple of hundred metres down the road they have swapped Block 17, section 102 with a developer for a long stay caravan park. This land is "recognised as grassland habitat for the endangered grassland earless dragon, and any development by the lessee on the site is likely to have a significant impact on that threatened species." (ACT LA Hansard) The development application which is currently nailed to the fence of this block is to dig it up and install sewer, stormwater and water pipes. "The potential future development of block 17, section 102 and associated damage and/or destruction of grassland earless dragon habitat on that site also appear to be mitigated to some degree by the proposed establishment of two grassland and woodland nature reserves in the Jerrabomberra Valley, around 200 hectares each, which may promote ongoing survival of the grassland earless dragon." (ACT LA Hansard) So the ACT Government is killing the kangaroos on Nature Reserves that are overrun with rabbits, hares, and rubbish to ostensibly save a few lizards, while allowing big development to occur on the same grasslands! The four ACT Greens have supported the Government on killing the Canberra kangaroos. The ACT Governement is now in public relations overload, with the ACT spindoctors trying to justify the kill.

Shot Kangaroos Found

The ACT Government has started an investigation into the shooting and dumping of around 20 kangaroos in Canberra's south. A land owner found the decomposing eastern grey kangaroos at the weekend beside a horse paddock near Curtin. Parks and Reserves acting manager Daniel Iglesias says the killings were not part of the Government's recent cull of 500 kangaroos in the Canberra Nature Reserve. However he says it appears it was done by someone who had a licence. "Whilst the animals were culled as part of a licensed operation they weren't disposed of properly," he said. "People operate in keeping with their licence conditions, they employ marksmen who are experts at what they do, they know the procedure very, very well and this is an isolated incident." Mr Iglesias says disposing of carcasses properly is a condition of any licence to shoot kangaroos in the ACT. "Traditionally what happens is that we'll dig a pit prior to commencement of the culling operation and the animals are put straight in," he said. "I don't recall any incident like this in the past." *ABC


The ACT Government will spend $2 million on controlling weeds this financial year. ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell says weeds have the potential to damage the environment, affect primary industries and interfere with local waterways. Mr Corbell says the Territory's new weed strategy will guide the management of weeds for the next 10 years. "The focus will be on those areas that are most vulnerable, for example, in our native grassland areas," he said. "We know from the recent Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment Report that weeds, along with kangaroos, are one of the major threats to the viability of those native ecosystems." *ABC Ed Comment; What can we say? Putting roads, shopping centres and houses on top of those grassland ecosystems doesnt help either!


A crocodile expert in Darwin says more efforts need to be made to track crocodiles across jurisdictions. A farm at Middle Point today reported 18 saltwater crocodiles missing after a quarterly audit yesterday. It is feared the reptiles have been stolen and could be sold on the black market in southern states for between $500 and $1000 each. Crocodylus Park's Graeme Webb says many farms use a marking system to show where crocodiles come from. He says the crocodile industry has become a lot bigger and authorities need to take the illegal pet trade seriously. "Enforcement is a pretty difficult issue when croc farming has got quite big now in the Territory and there's a fair bit of movement goes on interstate. "It's a bit hard to know how well interstate people are really controlling what's on the farms and the movement of crocs between them." *ABC

NSW National Parks under Fire Again

Proposed changes to the National Parks and Wildlife Act, making it easier to develop commercial facilities and resorts in national parks, puts nature under attack and is bad for local business. New developments in Sydney Harbour National Park could become a real possibility. The controversial Quarantine Station redevelopment as a resort on North Head was approved under existing laws. No doubt, greedy developers could push for more harbour-side resorts if they can get the law changed. *Canberra Times


A two-year-old humpback calf was reunited with its mother after being freed from ropes near Forster yesterday. A delicate rescue operation successfully freed the baby after it became entangled in 50m of rope at Boomerang Beach, on the Mid North Coast. National Parks and Wildlife Service rescue teams arrived at the scene after receiving calls from locals who spotted the distressed animal off the beach. With the Forster-Tuncurry Coastal Patrol and the Pacific Palms Surf Lifesaving Club, the crew worked throughout the day, eventually cutting the 8m calf free at about 3pm using hook-shaped knives on long poles. After hovering around her trapped baby as they worked to free him, the mother rejoined her calf as he was freed and the pair continued on their journey north. Ropes and nets pose a continuing problem for humpback whales, with large numbers trapped each year. *Daily Telegraph


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were more than 12.5 million active hunters over the age of 16 in the United States as of 2006.


Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers are embroiled in a fight with the State Government over constant changes in the name of their department. The rangers have launched a campaign to ensure the name of the service and its logo, a Herbert River possum dubbed 'Herbie', are legally protected from future name changes. Ranger spokesman Roland Dowling says the Department's name has been changed about every three years since 1975. He says each time it changes, new signs have to be put up and millions of dollars could be saved if the name of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service was legally protected. "We understand that it's the Government's right to actually call the departments what they want," he said. "But we see the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to be very similar to the Ambulance Service and the Fire Service and the Police Service and no-one ever talks about changing those names because it is a service to the community. "The public actually need to have a consistent identity with which to actually relate to." However, the State Government says the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service name and logo are here to stay. Sustainability Minister Kate Jones says the Service has kept its name, despite a name change for the Department of Environment and Resource Management.Ms Jones says the 'Herbie' the possum logo will remain in use as long as she is the Minister. *ABC

Kangaroo Meat to China

Russia will ban meat imports from a number of enterprises in Australia effective July 10 and import of all kangaroo meat from August 1 due to violations of food safety standards. The July 10 import ban applies to pork and pork products from three Australian enterprises (822, 3173 and 7170) and beef, pork and "the meat of small, horned livestock" from one enterprise (201). As for the ban on import of kangaroo meat, food safety violations in those shipments have become systemic in nature recently, Rosselkhoznadzor spokesman Alexei Alekseenko said. At least one shipment was found to contain E.coli bacteria. Most of the kangaroo meat imported to Russia undergoes industrial processing. Russia also added 27 Argentine enterprises to the list of authorized meat suppliers. "Having accepted the guarantee of Argentina's veterinary service, Rosselkhoznadzor has deemed it possible to expand the list of Argentine meat enterprises authorized to export product to the Russian market by 27," the food safety watchdog said in a statement.

Russia has banned all kangaroo meat from being imported to the country. The news is a massive blow to the Australian kangaroo harvesting industry as Russia takes up to 70 per cent of supply. The industry contributes up to $270 million to the Australian economy per year and employs over 4000 people. Project officer with the Queensland Macropod and Wild Game Harvesters Association, Tom Garrett says its because of food safety concerns. "They're saying that there's a systemic problem with the import of Kangaroo meat into Russia and their quoting E-coli in one shipment so I believe it's a little bit to do with politics as well," he says. Mr Garrett says the ban come in on the 1st of August this year and it will see the price of kangaroo meat become worthless. *ABC Rural

Queensland's kangaroo industry says a ban by Russia on all kangaroo meat imports will impact on jobs in outback communities. The Queensland Macropod and Wild Game Harvesters Association says Russia announced the ban this week because of food safety concerns. Project officer Tom Garrett says Russia was Australia's biggest market for manufacturing kangaroo meat, so the ban will hurt the sector. "There was a huge investment by Russian concerns into the most modern processing plant for the kangaroo industry in the last 20 years out at Charleville," he said. "That effectively means that market is no longer there. So huge ramifications for somewhere like Charleville that's built a huge plant and employs local people. "Russia took the manufacturing meat from the kangaroo industry ... the same as they took manufacturing meat for the beef industry. Tragic ... I think it's going to have a huge impact on employment in regional Queensland. We're at a real crisis point." *ABC

Ed Comment; Russia has just announced a ban on all kangaroo products from the 1st August, citing consistent contamination. For those that are unaware, the kangaroo meat exported to Russia is manufacturing meat. This is forequarter bones with meat attached, offal, trimmings and bruising, all put through a grinder and turned into slush, then boxed, snap frozen and exported. The Russians use it for salami and sausage mostly. They add chopped root vegetables and fat, fill the slush into sausage casings, and smoke them. Its then hung for some weeks until cured, then eaten. This is what our politicians have been doing in China lately, trying to convince the Chinese to buy the rejected Russian export kangaroo slush. However at a AL NSW meeting with Lisa Nie of of the Commercial Division at the Chinese Embassy in Canberra last week, she explained it was very controversial already and the decision to import kangaroo meat into China is no where near definite as the industry and the Government are implyng. We should have addresses to write to soon. We also believe that Russia’s complete ban will be a critical pressure point for the European Union to follow – especially after the baby harp seal product bans in both ‘countries’. *


From 1 to 31 August 1927, Queensland held what was to be the last open hunting season on koalas in Australia. David Stead, President of the Wild Life Preservation Society of Australia, warned that 300,000 would be killed. This figure was ridiculed in certain quarters, but as later events would show, even Stead underestimated the carnage.

The Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Stock for the year 1927-28 gives the number of koalas “secured” as being 584,738. This official figure, though, accounts only for those koalas whose skins reached the market. The Report fails to take into account the deaths of wounded koalas whose bodies were never recovered, those whose damaged pelts were rejected by skin dealers, those whose skins were sold among those of other marsupials, and young koalas who were uselessly killed or, having deprived of their mother, were left to starve. In all probability, the total is closer to 800,000 – a figure which exceeds the total number of koalas which remain alive today in the whole of Australia. Before 1927, it was possible in certain parts of Queensland to see large numbers of koalas in their natural habitat. Today, few Australians have ever seen them outside zoos.

Little has been made of this remarkable episode in Australia’s history. The first account of any details was given by A.J. “Jock” Marshall in his 1966 book The Great Extermination. In the second chapter, entitled “On the Disadvantages of Wearing Fur”, Marshall first places the 1927 open season within the context of the trade in koala fur, before looking at the controversy surrounding the Government’s declaration through the pages of the Brisbane Courier. He theorises that the chief factor in motivating Queensland politicians to open the season was the need to secure vital rural votes. In 1979, Nora Howlett dealt more directly with the slaughter in her article “The Bear You Couldn’t Buy”. In this comprehensive account, Howlett provides a history of the trade, looks at the lead-up to the declaration, and deals briefly with the controversy itself. Her article provides a number of insights into the motives behind the actions of the various forces.

Today it is possible to find the 1927 open season mentioned in a number of books and articles, but most accounts are brief and tend to feed off one another. The most relevant account for the purpose of this thesis is that which appears in Geoffrey Bolton’s Spoils and Spoilers. Bolton, like Marshall and Howlett, sees the open season as being a vote-catching stunt which by no means had its desired effect. * Preface from Glenn Fowler, "Black August":

Kangaroo Road Kill

Hyatt Regency Coolum resort has asked Sunshine Coast Regional Council for animal crossing signs and a reduced speed limit along parts of David Low Way after several of its twitchy-nosed visitors were killed by cars. At least two eastern grey kangaroos, famously welcome at the resort's golf course, have been killed within the last week. The Hyatt Regency Coolum said it had requested a 60kmh speed limit along its David Low Way frontage. The resort chain informed the Daily of its action yesterday as a Mudjimba woman shared her story of trying to rescue two adult kangaroos involved in two separate hits last week. Jaylene Musgrave said her two young nieces and her nephew were still traumatised by what occurred last Friday at dusk while driving south on David Low Way. “We were driving back from Coolum after going to the park and saw a kangaroo that had obviously been struck by a car in the middle of the lanes,” Mrs Musgrave said. “As I went to get it off the road, cars were swerving and very nearly hitting me. The kids were screaming and it took me ages. I had blood all over my hands.” Mrs Musgrave said a few days earlier she had informed Hyatt Regency Coolum staff that one kangaroo was foraging far too close to the roadway. She said that on her return from driving her husband Adam to work she found the same kangaroo had been struck heavily, but was still alive. Despite her efforts and a trip to the vet, the kangaroo had to be euthanased.

Mrs Musgrave said she had received a written reply to her own letter from the resort saying it had been advised by the Environmental Protection Agency that fencing structures would only create in-breeding within kangaroo “mobs”. "They promote the wildlife part of the experience with their golf course but they won’t provide for their safety,” Mrs Musgrave said. Hyatt Regency Coolum landscape manager Daniel Jamieson said EPA representatives had spent three to four hours at their premises three weeks ago for the purpose of inspecting the issue. Mr Jamieson said the EPA was happy with the open landscape because it allowed a number of different kangaroo “mobs” to come and go. “We certainly like the environment that our golf course provides. The complaint (of kangaroos being struck) is not a common one,” he said. Mr Jamieson said the resort was yet to receive a reply from the council about the request for animal crossing signs and a reduced 60kmh speed limit. He said anyone who saw a kangaroo carcass or a kangaroo posing a danger to motorists on the resort’s David Low Way frontage could call him on 5446 1234. *Sunshine Coast Daily

Ed Comment; Its only a couple of years ago they were serving kangaroo meat at the Hyatt Regency Coolum golfing BBQ's. How attitudes can change! A newpaper poll indicates that something like 70% of residents were in favor of lowering the speed limits to protect the kangaroos.


Snipers will patrol the beach to protect Sydney's endangered little penguins as CSI-style forensics are used to find the killer -- or killers -- of nine of the colony at Manly. An investigation into the penguin deaths at North Head was dramatically stepped up yesterday after another little penguin was found mauled to death on Quarantine Beach on Saturday. It was the ninth from an endangered colony of just 60 pairs killed by either a dog or fox in the past 10 days. Four dead penguins were found last Friday and a further four in following days. Autopsies at Taronga Zoo had confirmed the penguin's injuries were consistent with a dog or fox attack. The National Parks and Wildlife Service contracted two gunmen armed with .22 calibre rifles to patrol Quarantine Beach and surrounding areas late last night after fox tracks were found in the area. The shooters will return to the area again tonight.

Manly council has also enlisted the services of Australia's only animals forensics experts to try to find the animal responsible. They hoped DNA swabs taken from the dead penguins would identify the breed of dog involved. If a dog matching the description is identified, council have the authority to execute a warrant at the owner's address to sample the dog's DNA. If it matched that taken from the penguins, the dog owner faced heavy fines and possible criminal charges. Attacks on the penguins took place on private beaches with no public access, making the population difficult to monitor. But a group of vigilante activists from the Manly Environment Centre have vowed to do ``whatever it takes'' to protect the penguins and have enlisted an army of 30 volunteers to watch over the penguins night and day. Group spokeswoman Angelika Treichler said the attacks were occurring about dusk, when the penguins returned from their fishing trips, and during mating.

``They are being attacked when they have a full belly of fish, or when they are mating out of their burrows and not really paying attention,'' Ms Treichler said. Sydney is home to eight colonies of endangered species, ranging from bandicoots and ospreys to frogs and squirrel gliders. WIRES spokeswoman Jilea Carney said pet owners should keep domestic animals separated from wildlife at all times by locking them inside at night, attaching double bells to cat collars and never allowing a dog to roam in or near a national park. National Parks and Wildlife director Sally Barnes said animals should be reported immediately. "We are appealing to all dog owners in the region to be particularly vigilant,'' Ms Barnes said. "The loss of any penguins in this fragile community is terrible.'' *Daily Telegraph


The Australian Capital Territory's unique and ancient wildlife has never been under greater pressure than it is right now. This country has been blessed with fauna and flora not seen in any other country in the world, like the land itself they are ancient and have evolved throughout aeon's to a specialised form to complement their unique lifestyles. The combination of both the land and its unique flora and fauna is what makes Australia our country OUR country and some of us are very proud of it, especially when the uniqueness of species is instantly recognisable throughout the world and the sight of such instantly identifies our origins.

Since the earliest intercontinental migrations this land has been pillaged by man, this is evident in the changing of the flora regenerative patterns created by the repeated application of the fire stick by aboriginal hunters, but but it has been over the last two hundred years, since the first fleet sailed into Port Jackson that the land has been increasingly raped and violated, in the first instance by unknowing and unseeing men who had no option but to tame the country or starve., Unfortunately, these men have evolved into uncaring and obtuse men who happened to be elected into positions of power who view the "inconvenience" of fauna on land that they wish to exploit as nothing but an obstacle between themselves and obscene amounts of money, and because of this, this fauna, as unique as it may be, must be removed as soon as possible by whatever means that comes to hand.

A small number of us recognises this threat of extinction to the international symbol of our special country and are determined to attempt to maintain the status quo and nurture and save what we can, hoping against hope that this Government will one day wake up to the realisation of what living jewels we are the custodians of before they are all gone, never to be seen alive by the coming generation who will have to be content with a picture either in a book or on the Internet. It is a David and Goliath struggle against something that is venerated here in the A.C.T. that is money and unfortunately, I personally believe that because we have objected to the wholesale slaughter ordered by those who feel they have the divine right, we are now fighting the egos of the Parliament.

Over the last few years the greedy and uncaring have increasingly turned their rapacious eyes towards the land upon which our natural fauna exist as a source of revenue ripe for exploitation and so they have, via "official" channels bombarded the general public with propaganda and pseudo rationales in order to attempt to "legitimise" abhorrent acts that would have otherwise rightly been condemned as barbaric without this conditioning.It is the wildlife carers that are attempting to salvage what we can from the foulness of it all, however unfortunately we appear to be starting to realise that perhaps we cannot win this one sided battle with the limited resources we have to hand. At times in desperation we can see that we are losing ground until........What?When the last specimen has died and our uniqueness is just as sterile as parts of Europe, with no fauna and scarcely a bird call, what will the "Gimme" merchants turn their eyes to next? It won't matter, the Australia we loved, the country known throughout the world by the single glimpse of a fauna icon will be gone forever. All that will be left is a computerised bank balance for a very few. And I'll bet you will hear the wail "WE DIDN'T KNOW." * Letter from an ACT Canberra Times reader.

Wildlife Politics

Only a very brave person would suggest that the Labor Party is still the Labor Party of old. Recent shenangans of the Federal Labor Party would suggest that the Federal Labor is very far removed from the caring, environmentally sensitive, community based political animal it used to be, 20 years or so ago. Most people when comparing the Labor and Liberal Parties still talk of Tweedldum and Tweedledummer, hardly an appropriate way to talk about our Government.....but they deserve it! And are the State and Territory Governments any better? It really doesnt matter which State or Territory one names, corruption, deals with shooters, deals with wierdly motivated Independents, conservation land swaps with developers, onging destruction of wildlife habitat, etc etc continues unabated. Another problem with some of these States and Territories is that they fund most local community groups, who are then incapable of opposing Government policy. It seems that every day, another politician, even State Premiers, disappear with a wiff of corruption smoke. A few end up in Court, as is currently happening in Queensland, but most just disappear, their crimes and indescretions covered up by their political cohorts. Even the Nationals seem to have disappeared off the political landscape, except for an odd media burst about killing more flying foxes, or more kangaroos. So who does the wildlife loving Australian vote for? The Democrats, once good for keeping the barstards honest, disappeared with Andrew Bartlett. Although they are believed to be attempting a comeback, its unlikely to happen. Anyone who buys something and gets a receipt, gets reminded about Meg Lees and the extra GST tax she imposed on us all while leader of the Democrats. But what about the Greens? Although they have some very good elected animal friendly people that one could count on one or two hands, the Canberra Greens support for killing the kangaroos around Canberra has impacted badly on the other Greens around the country. Many people will be hesitant about voting Green after the support given by the Canberra Greens to some of the worst and most brutal kangaroo massacres ever seen in this country. Their other animal related accomplishments of the Canberra Greens include two media releases about caged hens....... So what do people who love animals and wildlife do about voting for the animals. Do we need an Animals Party? Well, many people think we do. While the Greens and Democrats have walked away from many animal issues in a bid to become "a non-single issue Party", an Animals Party would presumably focus only on the many animal issues that urgently need to be addressed around Australia. And as we speak, a Party for the Animals may finally be on the drawing board. *

Leopard Frogs

Thirty or forty years ago, on a warm spring night, an observant listener near a wetland in Grand Teton National Park might have heard a sound like a creaky door hinge or a small boat engine. The sound was the call of a northern leopard frog, and researchers think it hasn’t been heard in the park in at least a decade. In 1995, a child visiting the park found one and showed it to a ranger. The ranger snapped a picture, marking the last definitive evidence of a rana pipiens in the region. In a place that many wildlife enthusiasts consider the last intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states, the absence of the leopard frog in Grand Teton is conspicuous. But last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the frog could receive Endangered Species Act protection, rekindling hopes among researchers from around the region that the frog could stage a comeback. Chuck Peterson, a professor of biological sciences at Idaho State University, said amphibian researchers documented the leopard frog at a field station near Moran Junction in Grand Teton in the early 1950s. People also reported the frog at Leigh and String lakes. “They weren’t an abundant species back then,” he said. By the 1970s or early ’80s, the frog was likely on the decline.

“In 1991, we started looking,” said Peterson. “There was an observation of one. ... up by the Flagg Ranch area in the early 1990s. I’ve gone back [to the park] a couple of times and looked for them.” The frogs have also declined or disappeared from the surrounding region. Stable northern leopard frog populations used to exist places such as Victor, Idaho. Populations still exist near Ashton, Idaho. “Leopard frogs were the most abundant amphibian in southern Idaho in the ’70s,” said Peterson. “My ballpark estimate is that they’ve disappeared from 80 percent of the places they used to be. In northern Idaho, I think they’re just gone up there.” The reason for the frog’s decline is likely complicated, said Peterson. It comes as researchers document the disappearance of other amphibians across the planet. “To have such a widespread loss like that would suggest to me that disease is involved,” said Peterson, who explained that pathogens such as the rana virus and the chytrid fungus have taken a toll on frogs in the United States and other countries. Still, disease probably isn’t the whole story. “Drought can make a disease worse,” Peterson continued. “It can stress them. Seldom does a species decline for just one reason.”

In addition to drought, development and pesticides have also proven detrimental to frog populations. The construction of the Jackson Lake Lodge, the rerouting of a road near Yellowstone Lake and the damming and channelling of the Snake River are all examples of how incremental development has impacted amphibian habitat in Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks. Even small changes in water temperature or water chemistry can make an amphibian more susceptible to disease. Debra Patla, a research associate at Idaho State University participating in an amphibian inventory monitoring program with the National Park Service, said she and other researchers are holding out hope that a population of leopard frogs still exists in the park. “They might be out there, we just haven’t found them yet,” she said. “When they’re there, you really see them. They’re a conspicuous frog because they jump. They go leaping into the water. They’re very vocal too. There have been reports, but they have not been documented since 1995.”

Peterson agreed. He recently received a report of a leopard frog near Phelps Lake, but unfortunately the species is often confused with spotted frogs. “They’ll seem to disappear from an area and then they’ll come back,” he said. “I think ... in drought conditions a lot of amphibians will go locally extinct.” “I don’t think the current drought is the answer,” Peterson continued. “Amphibians have had to deal with wet and dry conditions. You always expect population fluctuations in amphibians. Are we looking at a population fluctuation or actual long-term declines? I think for leopard frogs, it is pretty clear that it is a long-term trend.” If leopard frogs do get Endangered Species Act protection, reintroducing them to the park isn’t out of the question, Patla said. “There are reintroductions for other amphibian species,” she said. “I still have hopes that they’re out there somewhere,” Patla continued. “But, as the years go by, I get less and less optimistic.”

Erin Robertson, biologist for Center for Native Ecosystems, one of the groups that petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider listing the leopard frog, said the species is one indicator of a larger problem. “There’s a worldwide decline in amphibians, and this is an example of a decline that is happening locally right now,” she said. The northern leopard frog is 2 to almost 5 inches long, green, brown or yellow, with large oval dark spots surrounded by a lighter halo and is found along streams and rivers, wetlands, permanent or temporary pools, beaver ponds and also permanent bodies of water depending on its life stage, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Along with spotted frogs, boreal chorus frogs, boreal toads and tiger salamanders, northern leopard frogs are one of five native species of amphibian in the park. Bullfrogs also live in the park but were introduced by humans, according to the Park Service. The northern leopard frog is endemic to 19 states including Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Colorado and South Dakota, and while some populations seem to be thriving, others have faded away over the years. * By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Scrub Turkeys

Brush turkeys have been invading suburban Sydney on a scale not seen since the ibis moved in many years ago. The large, aggressive birds are playing havoc with gardens, frightening pets, eating their food and building huge mounds. But the experts are warning they are here to stay; it is illegal to eat a protected native species and people should get used to them. The brush turkey is a ground-dwelling bird about 70 centimetres long that lives exclusively in the Australasian region of the world. Dr Ann Goeth is a senior threatened species officer with the Department of Environment and Climate Change and also one of the world's leading authorities on the local birds. She believes the turkeys are moving into suburban areas of Sydney for a number of reasons, including the drought. "They also find a lot of food in the kind of mulch and gardens that people provide," she said. "A lot of people indirectly attract these birds as well by either providing compost heaps where the birds can feed from, they have bird feeders, which brush-turkeys really like as well, or they might leave their pet food out on the back porch, which brush turkeys really like to eat as well." Network Item

Geoff Ross, a wildlife management officer with New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife, says the birds are also making a mess of backyards. "This species are megapodes, which means they build mounds," he said. "So the males incubate the eggs laid by females in these large mounds of garden material that's effectively breaking down and providing heat and that incubates the eggs. "We're seeing a lot more of these mounds around the inner-urban areas now - one reporting of an instance in Mosman. "Mounds are being located in Epping, Lane Cove and places like that on the North Shore. So they are gradually moving into those urban interfaces." Mr Ross says it is this building of the mounds and their propensity to destroy flower beds with their enthusiastic scratching that makes the turkeys the enemy of local gardeners. "They'll scratch up a lot of backyards' garden material to build that mound, particularly with people who have spent a lot of resources in maintaining a natural urban bushland, then of course brush turkeys will avail themselves of that very natural area and start building mounds in that backyard," he said.But Dr Anne Goeth reminds people that brush turkeys are a native species and protected by law. "So you're not allowed to catch them. You're also not allowed to actually destroy these mounds when there is eggs in there because you would destroy the eggs and the chicks," she said.

And she says you are definitely not allowed to put them on the barbie. "I mean they're big birds, big turkeys and obviously it's easier to shoot one of those than buy something if you are hungry, but hopefully that's not happening anymore these days," she said. "I've been told it's quite tough. I have never eaten them myself, of course." Mr Ross recommends that instead people learn to be tolerant of their new neighbours. "Now if you do have a mound you can seek National Parks' guidance on how to deal with that mound in your back garden," he said. "If it's particularly impacting upon you or your family, we can offer things like we give you a permit that will allow you to cover the mound with a tarpaulin and so the male can't work the mound, or you can cover it with mesh."You can use sprinklers to divert the male's attention away from the mound. Things like that, particularly now that we're allowed to hose our gardens again."

He says Sydneysiders worried about the turkeys should follow the example of their Queensland counterparts. "They are here to stay and it's one of being able to adapt to them being there and of course, this is nothing new for those people who live north of the border in Queensland," he said. "Brush turkeys are an everyday occurrence in the backyards of all Brisbane residents and residents on the Gold Coast. "So wherever you reside in those warmer coastal areas you get a few brush turkeys and again in Sydney they're just recapturing, if you like, those habitats they used to live in before."