Monday, November 2, 2009

Wildlife Bytes 28/10/09

Shooting in National Parks

Union bosses have pledged to fight any deal the Rees Government negotiates with the Shooters' Party that would allow the hunting of feral animals in national parks. The Public Service Association, which represents park rangers, has ordered its members not to assist in establishing recreational hunting in national parks in NSW. The association's general secretary, John Cahill, says without the support of park rangers, a plan to introduce regulated hunting under the supervision of NSW National Parks would likely fail. He called on uniformed rangers and other union members to attend a rally organised by the Greens tomorrow outside Parliament House.

The Shooters' Party, which holds the balance of power in the Legislative Council, says the bill will allow licensed gun owners the opportunity to play a more active role in conservation hunting programs in public lands. The upper house MP Robert Brown says the intention is only to kill feral animals, not native. But Mr Cahill said recreational shooters will compromise the feral animal control programs run by national parks officials, putting native flora and fauna at risk. He expressed concern about danger to park rangers and the public if shooting were allowed in bushland popular with hikers and picnic groups.

The cosy relationship between the Government and the Shooters' Party disintegrated over a private member's bill that would allow hunting of feral animals in national parks and the establishment of game reserves. Since midyear the Government has had to negotiate with the Opposition and the Greens to get legislation through the upper house. Mr Cahill said any deal on national parks is ''an attempt to garner the support of the Shooters' Party to assist in passing legislation through State Parliament''. The Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said: ''For the PSA to break ranks … shows how universally repugnant shooting in national parks is and how low the Government's reputation has sunk.'' * SMH

According to the police there were around 200 people in attendance at the Protest against shooting in National Parks, all there for one let the NSW Government know....NO SHOOTING IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS....EVER!!!!!

If you misssed the Sydney Protest, please email the persons below. The Labor Government is once again doing deals with the Shooters Party. Labor has made an offer to allow hunting in 13 national parks in exchange for the support of the two Shooters Party MPs in the NSW Upper House to help pass government legislation. Tell the government that you won't stand by as they sacrifice our national parks to blood sports. Shooters are not conservationists. Killing native wildlife is their form of recreational pleasure. Only the power of public opposition will remove this legislation from the negotiating table. National parks preserve our native animals and our heritage. They deserve the highest order of protection. The Shooters' Party is only interested in protecting its own interests, not conservation or the greater public good.

Please email the following MPs and express your strong opposition to any deal that would allow shooting in national parks:Premier Nathan Rees - Environment Minister John Robertson - Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell - Shadow Environment Minister Catherine Cusack - Christian Democrat, Fred Nile - Independent, Gordon Moyes - For more information contact Lee Rhiannon's office - 9230 3551 or

Flying Foxes

According to an article in the Courier Mail on Monday, the Queensland Government have caved in to small group of North Eton residents who threatened to shoot the flying foxes there, unless they were moved. The flying foxes will now be ecouraged to "relocate" by using fogging machines, loud noise, and bright lights. Here we have a Labor "government" who wont listen to thousands of people about the foolishness of building the Traveston Dam, but cave in to a small group of rednecks who have already killed some of the flying foxes in 2007. After the disastrous relocation event at Calliope in 2004, we thought they would never approve a flying fox relocation again......but.....

Kangaroo Culls Increase Bushfire Risk

Canberra's controversial kangaroo culls will increase summer bushfire risk, and undermine the capacity of the city's nature reserves to cope with climate change, a new report says. Commissioned by ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Maxine Cooper, the report says there is ''no evidence to support the theory that kangaroos constitute an ecological hazard''. It warns culling kangaroos in the city's nature reserves will reduce native plant biodiversity, increase erosion and sedimentation of rivers and creeks, allow weeds to proliferate and undermine post-fire recovery of ecosystems. It said Canberra had no over-arching biodiversity conservation plan which mapped out a strategy to protect the ACT's ecosystems and water catchments from climate change. Future planning should protect urban wildlife habitat and create ''well-managed wildlife corridors and reserves'' to make Canberra ''a biodiversity sanctuary, rather than confining nature to beyond the city limits''.

Written by environmental think-tank the Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre, the report said any biodiversity conservation plan for Canberra ''must include kangaroos as an integral part of the solution rather than regarding them as a problem to be managed''. However, The ACT Environment Minister has dismissed the findings of a report that has questioned the rationale behind the Government's kangaroo culls. The report, from the Canberra Environment and Sustainability Resource Centre, says kangaroos do not damage endangered grasslands and reduce the risk of bushfires by eating dry grass. But Simon Corbell (from the ACT Government) says there is plenty of evidence pointing in the other direction. "We believe there is a strong, coherent, peer-reviewed and respected body of work about the impact of over-grazing by kangaroos on our endangered ecosystems," he said. "We'll be using that evidence to guide our policy making." * Canberra times
Ed Comment; If there is such a body of peer-reviewed evidence we'd love to see it!

Kangaroo Industry Criticism

Treasury secretary Ken Henry has won over some new fans, with the Greens lauding his remarks about the commercial culling of kangaroos for pet food. Dr Henry used a recent speech to business leaders to show his concern at the practice. The Treasury boss said Australia was clearly unable to manage its own environment and would struggle to cope when the population reaches 35 million. Speaking in a personal capacity, Dr Henry said permits had been issued in the past decade to allow the commercial slaughter of 49.6 million roos, primarily to give household pets variety in their diet. "That is but one instance of a set of behaviours that suggests that with a (current) population of 22 million people, we haven't managed to find accommodation with our environment," Dr Henry said.

"Our record has been poor, and in my view we are not well placed to deal effectively with the environmental challenges posed by a population of 35 million." Dr Henry's comments won the support of Greens leader Bob Brown, who told the Nine Network the roo industry needed some "definite controls put upon it". "I think Ken Henry is a very admirable Australian," Senator Brown said, adding he was a good thinker and a great addition to the "Australian political think tank". Asked if he was going to sign up Dr Henry to the Greens cause, he said "well that's where the Greens are going, economically responsible". It was Dr Henry's evidence before the Senate committee that led the Greens to support the government's stimulus package which saved the jobs of many Australians, he said. "Bringing in the ecological component to all economic thinking in the future is going to be absolutely important if we get it right," Senator Brown said.

Kangaroo Shooter to go Inside

A cruel and callous hunter who shot four kangaroos with a high-powered bow will serve up to a year in prison. Dressed in camouflage to stalk his prey on a Bundoora real estate development, Justin Stavropoulos, 27, of Thomastown, claimed to have hunted the roos for their meat, the Herald Sun reports. But Heidelberg Magistrates' Court heard he left two of them alive - one with an arrow through its face and another with an arrow festering in its hind. One of those animals later died after $4200 was spent on medical assistance. Magistrate Jennifer Grubissa convicted Stavropoulos of animal cruelty over the deaths of three kangaroos and maiming of another, and a charge of hunting a protected species. Magistrate Grubissa said it was "unimaginable" he could not have foreseen the cruelty involved in shooting the roos, despite Stavropoulos's claim that he believed they were "rodents" that could be culled.

She said the injuries suffered by two of the kangaroos were "hideous" and that his disregard for the animals and separate incidents of hunting was "callous and calculated". "This is not one single, isolated incident," she said. Ms Grubissa said she had received several letters from citizens about the case, but could not factor them into any sentence. Stavropoulos, who had previously worked as a personal care attendant and who had no prior criminal convictions, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was ordered to serve a minimum of four months in jail before being eligible for parole. The court heard Stavrodhpoulos had been subjected to widespread community reaction since the incidents in May and June. Defence lawyer Peter Ward said Stavropoulos would appeal against the sentence. Stavropoulos was released on bail and ordered to appear before the County Court on March 12, next year. *

Canberra Joeys

A conservation group is appealing an ACT tribunal decision confirming the ACT Government's refusal of a licence to export orphaned kangaroos joeys to New South Wales. Last year Wildcare Queanbeyan applied for a licence to export about 35 joeys, orphaned by road accidents. The ACT Conservator of Flora and Fauna rejected the application, so the group took their case to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. In September, the Tribunal affirmed the Conservator's original decision. It found that hand rearing an abundant species such as the eastern grey kangaroo served no purpose. It said there was little information on the behaviour of hand reared kangaroos but noted there was anecdotal evidence showing they may be more aggressive towards humans when they are adults. Wildcare Queanbeyan is now appealing against the decision on that point and wants to present additional evidence. *ABC

A new Petition to stop kangaroo meat being imported into the European Union can be found here.....

Ed Comment; A number of campaigns against the Commercial Industry are taking place at the moment. More details later. And it appears Qld Premier Anna Bligh has failed in her attempts to reopen the Russian markets for kangaroo meat. *WPAA

Bow Hunting

A Canada lynx was illegally killed in Silverton with a bow and arrow, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife is offering a reward for information about the incident that leads to a conviction. Authorities encourage anyone with information about the recent killing of a Canada lynx in Silverton to call Operation Game Thief at (877) 265-6648. Callers may remain anonymous. The Canada lynx is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and killing it is illegal. Division of Wildlife personnel found the carcass Oct. 7 in the Kendall Mountain area, the agency announced Friday. The lynx appeared to have been killed by someone using a bow and arrow. The male lynx was wearing a radio collar and was born in 2005, the Division of Wildlife said. The collars emit a signal when the animal dies, said Drayton Harrison, district wildlife manager.

Lynx have been poached in Southwest Colorado before. Two lynx were shot dead, one near Hermosa Park and one north of Silverton, in separate incidents in October 2006. “It has become a big issue,” said Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Durango-based Colorado Wild. “Unfortunately, there are only a couple of hundred lynx in Colorado, so every lynx lost is a significant loss from a conservation perspective.” Colorado Wild and the Center for Native Ecosystems, based in Denver, are offering a $1,000 reward in addition to the DOW’s unspecified reward. More than 200 lynx have been released in Colorado since 1999, and more than 100 kittens since have been born. The grayish cats have large ears with furry tufts and broad, padded feet that enable them to run in the snow. Adults weigh 20 to 30 pounds. They prey on snowshoe hare, other small mammals and ground-dwelling birds, according to the Division of Wildlife. Before the state reintroduction program, lynx disappeared from Colorado about 1973. Earlier this year, Colorado was excluded from the lynx’s nationally recognized critical habitat in a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. *Durango Herald


The kookaburra sits in the old gum tree ... or so the song goes. But with research showing more than 80 species of birds are in decline in Victoria, environmental groups are beginning to wonder just how long the kookaburra will be around. As the not-for-profit Gould League celebrated its centenary in Melbourne on Sunday, executive officer David Walker said the time for serious thought about the Australian environment had arrived. "Generally speaking across Australia, mammals, birds, reptiles, they're all struggling. You actually wonder where it's going to end," Mr Walker told AAP on Sunday. "The woodland birds in Victoria are under severe threat, even the kookaburra. "The wattle birds, the red-capped robin - birds we thought were pretty common are now facing serious decline." Mr Walker said there were several reasons for the serious plight of birds. "Clearing of habitat, predators, feral animals, land clearing and, of course, drought and climate change are having a big impact," he said. "There is more and more evidence coming out that the lack of rain across southern Australia is related to higher temperatures." * Brisbane Times

Whales, Dolphins, and Kangaroos

Eight nights ago Channel Nine's 60 Minutes ran a blood-curdling story about the herding and slaughter of dolphins near the Japanese fishing town of Taiji, describing what it called the ''Dante's inferno'' for dolphins. It was harrowing. It was also a classic case of Australians in glass houses. The reporter Liam Bartlett confronted a hapless official in the local council offices and said: ''Are all your officials too busy washing dolphin blood off their hands?'' In Japan, where the codes of public honour are incomparably more ingrained and important than in Australia, this on-camera affront was more than grossly insulting. So when another Japanese official, Yoshito Umezaki, blasted Bartlett as a grandstanding hypocrite and worse, it was fair comment. Bartlett: ''Can you understand why many Australians would consider what you're doing to be barbaric?'' Umezaki (speaking Japanese): ''Yes, I can. I do understand the feeling, but I'd like to say that, for Japanese people, killing kangaroos is sad and unbearable. Don't you think it's the same?''Bartlett: ''Are you saying we are hypocritical?'' Umezaki: ''Yes, I can.'' Then he added: ''I think there is racism towards people of colour.''

Bartlett, incredulous: ''So, when we ask fishermen in Taiji to stop killing dolphins, we are racist?'' Umezaki: ''Yes, that's how we understand it. We never tell you in Australia to stop killing kangaroo or wild camels.'' He's right. Australians (including me) express outrage about the whales and the dolphins, but when it comes to hypocrisy about animal cruelty, we are world class. We hunt, slaughter and brutalise our national symbol while lauding, exploiting and symbolising it at the same time. Similarly, we don't expend much curiosity about the abject conditions in the factory farms that produce our pork and poultry. Consider the most revolting of all the annual government-sanctioned, mass animal slaughters: the butchering of the baby harp seals in Canada. This year a kill quota of 280,000 was set. Most will be young seals clubbed to death on ice floes.

Then consider this: at least 150,000 joeys, and possibly twice that many, will be shot, bashed, crushed or starved to death in Australia this year. The perfect example of Australia's cultural amnesia about the kangaroo was evident this month when about 140 eastern grey kangaroos were shot on Mount Panorama, the site of the Bathurst 1000, ''to ensure the safety of drivers and visitors''. It was a metaphor for a country that turns its national symbol into dog food, a country in which about 3 million kangaroos, on average, have been culled each year over the past decade. Animal rights groups put the slaughter of joeys on the same scale and cruelty as the slaughter of seal cubs in Canada. This is disputed by the kangaroo industry, and by many scientists.

The head of the Kangaroo Industries Association of Australia, John Kelly, told me: ''There is no reliable estimate of the numbers of joeys killed as a result of the commercial harvest [but] the commercial take is about 25 per cent female and … only about 20 per cent of females are likely to have a joey at foot.'' Joeys are shot according to the Federal Government's Animal Welfare Code of Practice. The balance of scientific opinion holds that the juvenile mortality rate is higher in unharvested kangaroo populations than in harvested populations. ''The simple reason for this,'' Kelly says, ''is that the harvest controls the population and reduces the boom-bust cycle, which leads to extremely high juvenile mortality during the 'bust' cycles.'' Unlike the whale and dolphin harvesting by the Japanese, which are compromising the long-term viability of some species and in whaling are hidden behind the absurd mask of ''scientific research'', the dominant view among scientists in this country is that the kangaroo cull does not threaten the viability of species and is not veiled in double-speak.

Both points are contested by animal rights groups and scientists such as David Croft of the University of NSW. ''Compliance with the code of practice is never assessed at the point of killing but only through random checks at chillers after the killing has been undertaken,'' he told me. "'The code is silent about the fate of dependent young-at-foot which have left their mother's pouch. They are abandoned to die of starvation or predation. The scale of the industry is such that of the 30 million kangaroos killed between 1994-2003, about 12 million were females, leaving about 3 million young to a cruel death." His figures, in turn, are contested. The point here is not to dismiss either side. Young kangaroos have always died in large numbers, long before Europeans turned up. The point here is about hypocrisy. While eastern greys were being shot on Mount Panorama this month to make way for a car race, my thoughts turned to the one eastern grey I got to know. She was named Myrtle. I wrote about her last Australia Day.

An orphan, she was adopted by David Macfarlane. ''In the morning she'd stand at the breakfast table and expect a bowl of cereal like the rest of us. She didn't like being left out.'' Myrtle identified David as the dominant male in her world, and rarely drifted far from him. She would go into a jealous rage when young women came to visit. When he took us out in his boat, she would swim after it. You don't want to think too much about what happens to thousands of potential Myrtles every year. As the Japanese official Umezaki said, it is ''sad and unbearable''. But we bear it. In fact, most Australians don't appear to think about it much. It's easier to condemn the Japanese. *National Times

Two Elizabeth North residents suspected of illegally selling protected native reptiles as pets are being questioned by authorities. The pair, who identified themselves only as Johnno and Kylie, were discovered when the woman advertised two breeds of protected lizards for sale on trading website Gumtree. The multi-billion dollar international black market in wildlife is behind only guns and drugs in terms of value. Smugglers are prepared to pay thousands of dollars for reptiles stolen from the South Australian Outback, with snakes and lizards fetching up to $25,000 each on the overseas market. Often, the species traded are in danger of extinction and are transported in appalling conditions. Last weekend, a Delma Fraseris, otherwise known as Fraser's Legless Lizard, was listed for sale on Gumtree, along with worm lizards, for $26 each.

Both species are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972, which bans people from keeping, selling or giving away animals without a permit. When contacted by a Sunday Mail reporter posing as a potential customer, Kylie said she had frilled neck lizards - which are also protected under the same rules - to sell later in the week. When asked if a permit was needed to sell or keep any of the reptiles, she replied: "Hopefully not, because I am (selling them). Not that I know of." Police and officials from the Department of Environment and Heritage raided the couple's home on Friday night after an investigation by the Sunday Mail, which led to two men attempting to sell the lizards in a northern suburbs McDonald's car park. One of the men, who gave his name as Johnno, produced two small lizards in a perspex box and said they were six-week-old Delma Fraseris that had been bred by a friend. He claimed a permit was not required to own them.

The two lizards were later seized in the raid, along with four blind snakes, which were also allegedly kept without a permit. DEH Manager of Investigations and Compliance Hannah Dridan said they were investigating the matter. "We are still to determine if an offence has been committed," she said. "It is an offence in SA to be in possession of a protected animal without a permit." If the pair are found guilty of an offence, they could face a maximum penalty of $2500 or six months' imprisonment. "We would remind all people that it is important that before they take possession of any native species, that they determine what the species are and if a permit is required to possess the species," Ms Dridan said. "DEH will make inquiries or investigate any reports that we receive relating to the illegal possession of native species." Delma Fraseris occupy various habitats from pale coastal sands to woodlands, and dry to semi-arid areas of South Australia and Western Australia. *Adelaide Now

Fraser Island Dingoes

In July this year the Queensland Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Kate Jones, announced a dingo ‘census’ on Fraser Island so that her department could ‘further fine-tune management strategies for a sustainable dingo population, while ensuring public safety’. Earlier in the year the department’s controversial dingo management strategy elicited 71 public submissions, mainly from residents, tour operators and animal welfare groups. Most were concerned over the rapidly shrinking dingo population, and what they see as inhumane treatment from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QP&WS). Former CSIRO researcher, Dr Laurie Corbett, who advises the QP&WS on their dingo management strategy, was called in to review the current strategy and respond to the public concerns. An authority on the dingo, Corbett recognises the Fraser Island population as one of six in Australia worthy of the National Heritage List, and wrote the recent IUCN’s nomination of the dingo as a Vulnerable species.

Dingoes have been on Fraser Island for at least 1000 years. When the area was nominated by the Australian Government for World Heritage listing in 1991, its dingo population, then between 200 to 300 animals, was believed to be ‘the largest genetically unhybridised population on the east coast of Australia’. Domestic dogs had been banned from the island in 1981, thus halting the relatively small amount of genetic ‘introgression’ that had already taken place. After the island was listed as World Heritage, logging was stopped and the entire island was managed as a National Park. Visitor numbers to Fraser Island today are estimated at around 500 000 people a year, with the thrill of seeing a dingo ‘in the wild’ a major drawcard.

When a young child was mauled by a dingo in January 1994, the media seized on the story, and questions of public safety were raised. There were fears the dingoes were getting out of hand, and orders came from Brisbane for the offending animal to be shot. During the following six years a further 103 dingoes were reportedly culled – it became standard management practice for the QP&WS to kill any ‘aggressive’ animal or animal that ‘shows no fear of humans’. When, in 2001, a nine-year-old schoolboy, Clinton Gage, was fatally mauled, there was another media outcry, and a further 32 dingoes were culled within a matter of a few weeks. Those concerned about the fate of Fraser Island dingoes – including researcher Dr Luke Leung from Queensland University – now fear the population has been reduced to around 100 animals and their genetic viability over the long term is being compromised.

A key principle of the management strategy is that dingoes are regarded as ‘wild, native animals and should be interfered with as little as possible’. Dingoes ‘should be viewed as wild animals and not semi-domesticated camp dogs or wildlife park attractions’. Any dingo ‘identified as dangerous’ is ‘destroyed humanely’ in order to reduce ‘the risk posed to humans to an acceptable low level’. However, the practice of culling any ‘problem’ animal can, potentially, dislocate the dingo pack structure by removing adult animals. The pack relies on these elders to maintain the social order, and help teach the younger animals how to hunt. Tim Rivers, a tour operator who has been involved with visitors to the area for more than 30 years, is alarmed at the now low levels of dingo sightings on the island, and suggests that the official figures of dingo numbers are overstated. He believes many more dingoes have been culled than the QP&WS are prepared to admit, and is concerned the kills have not always been clean and humane. Rivers claims having seen ‘animals with gunshot wounds in shoulders, hindquarters and even facial wounds’.

Part of the management strategy is to keep dingoes off the beach and away from tourist areas by means of ‘hazing’. This involves attempting to scare dingoes away by shanghai-ing them with pellets. Opponents of the management plan feel this practice is cruel, and consider that it can only add to the dingoes’ mistrust of humans and heighten their antagonism. Another contentious issue is that of ear-tagging dingoes on the island. Dingo pups as young as four months have been trapped and marked with a tag in their ear. Opponents of this practice consider it cruel and debilitating. The ear sometimes becomes infected and the tag may cause the pup’s ear to flop over. This impedes its ability to discriminate the direction from which a sound is coming – something critical when the pup is learning to hunt for food. In some cases the trapping of an animal in order to tag it has also led to a leg being damaged or broken, further limiting its ability to survive ‘in the wild’.

It is hard to reconcile the ear-tagging and ‘hazing’ of dingoes with the QP&WS’s ‘cardinal principle’ of park management: ‘to provide, to the greatest possible extent, for the permanent preservation of the area’s natural condition and the protection of the area’s cultural resources and values’. The activities, apart from their potentially inhumane aspects, are seemingly at odds with the principle of regarding dingoes as wild, native animals and interfering with them as little as possible. In his 2009 audit of the dingo management strategy, Dr Laurie Corbett defends the issue of tagging so that rangers can identify a ‘problem’ animal easily. He recommends the continued use of slingshots and ‘rat-guns’ as the most effective ‘hazing’ methods, despite the fact many dingoes now recognise the rangers’ vehicles and will flee from them on sight.

Some of the long-term residents of the island point out that there were few dingo problems during the time of Forest Department control. For years, the dingoes were allowed to roam freely through the resorts and small settlements and the feeding of food scraps was actually encouraged. Now the QP&WS has erected a ‘dingo-proof ’ fence with electrified ‘cattle grids’ around some of the settlements. The one surrounding the community of Eurong cost $1 million, requires constant maintenance and is still not 100 per cent effective in keeping dingoes out. The real problem, according to longtime resident Judi Daniel, is the visitors’ lack of common sense. Many of the dingo ‘incidents’ that have led to the destruction of the dingoes involve unsupervised children. ‘Why must a dingo die due to visitors’ stupidity?’ she asks.

Despite the efforts of the pro-dingo alliance, there are still many in the community who consider that ‘the only good dingo is a dead dingo’. The spectre of another attack on a child led one former Queensland postman, writing to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, to argue that: ‘One child’s life is worth more than 100 dingoes.’ With feelings like this common in the wider community, those who are striving to achieve a better deal for the Fraser Island dingo are facing an uphill battle. Terry Harper, the government’s Senior Director, Marine Parks, has just announced another ‘population dynamics’ study, but this is still in its ‘planning and scoping’ stage, with no time-frame set for its completion.

Researcher Dr Luke Leung believes that, with only six or seven packs left on the island, the time has come for a more ethical and humane approach. For instance, he says, ‘problem’ animals could be relocated from the island to a breeding facility in order to maintain the gene pool of this relatively pure strain of dingo. In the meantime, Humane Society International has called for an immediate end to the culling of dingoes on Fraser Island and for better education of tourists visiting the island on how to interact with the dingoes. *Story provided by ECOS Magazine


An International trend of using seals for ocean research is posing an animal ethics test at Australia's sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Scientists plan to glue electronics to elephant seals' heads this summer to record and transmit details of the Southern Ocean as they traverse it, according to a University of Tasmania permit application. The project is the latest to exploit these animals' long, deep-diving journeys, and offers a chance to recover information about the sea in difficult locations such as the Antarctic winter pack ice. Up to 15 of the seals would each carry a 500-gram data logger, which could be shed a year later after the animal moulted. A wildlife scientist who contacted The Age said he was concerned serious harm would be caused by the data loggers. The scientist, who declined to be named, said that by fitting a logger on the head, the seal's natural balance could be affected for up to 11 months at a time. It was also possible that the epoxy glueing process could injure the animal.

Welfare groups Humane Society International and Animals Australia yesterday called for caution. "'The research should not proceed if there are concerns that the instrument will be a burden for the seal or cause it discomfort,'' HSI programs manager Nicola Beynon said. Animals Australia's executive director Glenys Oogjes said the use of animals as ''agents'' was a matter for concern, particularly if it raised problems of mobility. Macquarie Island elephant seal science came under scrutiny a decade ago when the federal government halted a hot-iron branding program after seeing graphic evidence that some of the seals were severely wounded. Scientists have since devoted close attention to welfare issues there, including a paper by Clive McMahon of Charles Darwin University. It found that of 128 adult seals equipped with devices, there was little effect on their weight.

The University of Tasmania says it is important to put the device on the head so that each time a seal surfaces to breathe, the transmitter can send data to Australia. ''Other placement locations have been trialled in the past with little success.'' The head of the university's school of zoology, Sue Jones, said the research was critical to understanding how elephant seals respond to climatic and oceanographic change. She said that the application was being assessed by the university's animal ethics committee. *Age

Meanwhile a commercial fisherman from Western Australia has been charged with killing seals while trawling off Tasmania. It is alleged the 44-year-old's trawling practices killed 31 Australian fur seals between July and August in 2006. He has been charged with taking an action that led to the death of a listed marine species while in Commonwealth waters. The maximum penalty for killing the animals is $110,000, two years jail, or both. The man will appear in the Perth Magistrates Court next month. *ABC

More Kangaroos Shot

A group of kangaroos has been shot dead and dumped in Belgrave South. Belgrave police were called to Courtneys Rd, Belgrave South, last Friday where they found four dead kangaroos piled up on top of each other on the side of the road. Belgrave Sen-Sgt Doug Berglund said police believed the animals were probably killed on the night of Thursday, October 16, then dumped on the side of the road. Police informed the Shire of Yarra Ranges and Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) about the attack. Macclesfield Wildlife shelter operator Rodney Hudson-Davies labelled the incident “barbaric”.

Mr Hudson-Davis, who nursed many kangaroos back to health after the bushfires this year, said the government needed to impose harsher penalties to anyone caught killing kangaroos. He said there were only small pockets of kangaroos in the hills, mainly around Lysterfield Park, and they definitely weren’t running out of control. DSE spokeswoman Michelle Atkinson said kangaroos are protected native animals and penalties apply for people who are found to have killed or harmed them. Ms Atkinson said the maximum penalty would be a fine of $5840 for killing a protected native animal, and additional amounts per animal killed could apply. She said DSE relied heavily on information from the public when investigating crimes such as this one and urged anyone with information to call the DSE customer service centre on 136 186 or Belgrave police on 9754 6677. *FreePress Leader


There was a report on Adelaide radio recently that the Belaire Park Country Club has hired a shooter to kill wood ducks (also called maned geese). Laurie Levy (Coalition Against Duck Shooting) has spoken to Ron Marshall, one of the CEOs at the golf club who said that 37 wood ducks had been shot in one day and they intended to continue shooting. The CEO says they have obtained a permit from the South Australian Government, but we say shooting permits are issued too easily and not enough consideration is given to non-lethal alternatives. This is totally unnecessary and unacceptable. There are non-lethal alternatives and these days most golf clubs live happily with their wildlife.

We need hundreds of emails going to and and people phoning Ron, or anyone in management on 08 8278 7534 08 8278 7534 - and keeping it up for the next two weeks - ringing and/or emailing every day. Please also cc your email to Allan Holmes, CEO of SA Dept. of Environment and Heritage People should not be abusive, but rather point out that there are non-lethal alternatives such as rubber snakes, dogs being walked on leads, radio controlled model planes, etc. which will deter the birds and that the shooting of native waterbirds is not acceptable. Most golfers don't like wildlife being shot and are outraged to learn this is taking place. Waterbird numbers across eastern Australia over the last 25 years has decreased a staggering 82%. This is caused mainly by drought and climate change. The sad state of the Coorong in South Australia, once a major waterbird breeding area, is a prime example. The Club has used a supposedly non-lethal chemical in the past that kept the birds off, but they say they can't aford to use it any longer.Thanks, Laurie Levy and Lynn Trakell, Coalition Against Duck Shooting, Email: Mob: 0418 392 826


A more than 15-foot crocodile captured near a popular beach in Australia's Northwest Territory was the area's largest catch in four years, authorities said. Parks and Wildlife officials said five rangers pulled the croc out of a trap in Berry Springs, less than a mile from the beach, The Australian reported Friday. It measured 15 feet, 5 inches long. "This is the largest crocodile we've removed from the area in the last four years," Parks and Wildlife senior ranger Tom Nichols said. "It is also the largest crocodile we've removed from any of our traps in 2009." Charlie Manolis, chief scientist at Crocodylus Park in Darwin, said the crocodile, believed to be in its 50s, would be transported to a farm and put into "forced monogamy for captive breeding." *

Forests, the world's first fully bilingual website devoted to climate change and the environment, features an article by Bhimsen Thapaliya on Nepal's agreement to leave its forests intact. "Nepal has lobbied in favour of a global pact that will convert its community-managed forests into cash, without cutting down a single tree . . . Regenerating forests by checking potential deforestation can act as 'green servant', cleaning up the carbon mess created by big polluters in the developed world. One of the key negotiating points for Nepal, which has 1.25 million hectares of forests under community guardianship, is that these carbon mopping and management services should be duly compensated. Not only will forest management be able to claim payments in the global carbon market for checking deforestation, they can also claim for forest enhancement and maintenance. "Nepal is set to convert its forests into cash turning the saying Hariyo ban Nepal ko dhan (Green forests are Nepal's money earner) into a reality." *

Thinking about Wildlife? Who’s going to watch over our wildlife when you no longer share their World? Well, we are! The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will continue to forcefully lobby governments to do better with wildlife management, and by taking them to Court if necessary. We are currently working on developing eLearning projects, so students can become aware of the importance of our wildlife living in a safe and secure natural environment. After you have looked after your family and friends in your Will, think about wildlife. A bequest to the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will ensure that we can continue to take a leading role in protecting and conserving our precious wildlife. None of the donations we receive are diverted to "administration". Every dollar we get through bequests or donations for wildlife hits the ground running! Talk to your solicitor, or if writing your own Will, add the words "I bequeath to The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. for the purpose of protecting wildlife in Australia (a specified sum), or (specified items including land or vehicle), or (the residue of my estate) or (percentage of my estate) free of all duties, and the receipt of the President, Secretary or other authorised WPAA officer for the time being shall be a complete and sufficient discharge for the executor(s)." You can also phone me for a confidential chat, as to how a bequest can help us work to protect our wildlife, when you are no longer able to. * Pat O’Brien, WPAA 07 54941890

Kangaroos - Faces in the Mob! (We recently ran out od stock of this very popular magical DVD, but now have new supplies in! Buy Now! Buy Now!....before we run out again!)

On the east coast of Australia lies a valley of magical beauty, surrounded by mountains and shrouded in mists during winter. In these idyllic surroundings live a mob of wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos whose society is rich and complex. Faces in the mob is an engaging true story of life within this one mob of Australian wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos.

For two years, award-winning Australian filmmakers Dr. Jan Aldenhoven and Glen Carruthers lived with this mob. Hear their compelling account of the world of these captivating marsupials where each animal has its own personality. Buy the DVD now with Paypal...$29.95 Au includes free postage in Australia.

Follow the destinies of two lovable joeys - a female named Sunshade whose mother is conscientious and successful, and Jaffa, a little male full of pluck and courage whose mother is absent-minded. And witness everything from birth to the dramatic and sometimes deadly battles between adult males.

Never before has the richness and complexity of the kangaroo society and the daily drama of their family life been revealed in such stunning detail. Superbly photographed, this beautiful story of Australia's most famous animal will captivate you from beginning to end. This is the best documentary about our beloved kangaroos that has ever been produced. Profits from sales of the DVD go to help the Kangaroo Protection Coalition to campaign for the protection of our beautiful kangaroos.

Buy the DVD now with $34.95 Au Paypal for International postage delivery.

This DVD would make a great "All Year Round" present!