Monday, December 7, 2009

Wildlife Bytes 30/11/09

Wildlife Xmas Presents

Wildwood Wildlife Shelter in Victoria has a beautiful calendar for sale, with lots of kangaroos on it. They are selling them for $25 plus $6.95 postage each within Australia, extra for O/S of course. The addys are; Pam Turner, Wildwood Wildlife Shelter, Glenthompson. Vic. 3293 Email 03 55774343, 0418 161 826 And please dont forget that Maryland Wilson from AWPC still has copies of "Kangaroos, Myths and Realities" for sale. Her email is;

And also dont forget the wonderful DVD "Kangaroos, Faces in the Mob" available here; any wildlife group are selling Xmas cards etc, please let us know so we can pass it on.

Needing a good Laugh?

Laughing is good for your health. A good belly laugh improves blood pressure, lifts your circulation, and exercises your lungs. But a good cry is good for your health too, it can ease stress, and help you to recover from shock or grief. And here in Australia we are very lucky, because currently we can laugh and cry at the same time, which must be twice as good for your health...right? And all you have to do to laugh and cry at the same time is keep up to date with the current Climate Change debacle. On one hand we have the Government proposing a Climate Change option that will allow big polluters to pay to pollute, while the rest of us in the community have to accept higher energy and transport charges. Incredibly, agriculture has been excluded! But meanwhile the Opposition, for want of a better word, has a bunch of flat-earthers trying very hard to bring down their own Party, and make it even more irrelevant than it already is, and in doing so, they ensure that the Rudd government stays in power for decades. While the Government's Climate Change proposal has many flaws, at least it's a start. After more than 30 years of knowledge and awareness of the potential effects of Climate Change, finally something is being done, albeit not very much. So if you want to improve your health, by laughing and crying at the same time, tune into the Climate Change debate! *WPAA

Three UK groups studying climate change have issued a strong statement about the dangers of failing to cut emissions of greenhouse gases across the world. The Royal Society, Met Office, and Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc) say the science of climate change is more alarming than ever. They say the 2007 UK floods, 2003 heatwave in Europe and recent droughts were consistent with emerging patterns. Their comments came ahead of crunch UN climate talks in Copenhagen next month. *BBC News

Freshwater Fish

A national task force has been set up to help preserve native freshwater fish species. International experts have met in Adelaide and the 25 scientists say half of freshwater fish species in South Australia alone are under threat. Group president Professor Gordon McGregor Reid says many problems stem from state and territory governments cutting off wetlands during drought. He says there is a need to rehabilitate ecosystems. "It can actually make the environment very, very acid and you're talking about, you know, 'vinegar' levels and that can then sweep out into the main river systems and basically kill all the fish in a stretch of river," he said. "A short-term solution is actually giving a long-term headache. "It may come down to lawns or fish, you know it's nice to have a well-watered green lawn but do you want to have that at the expense of the loss of the fish that have been here for hundreds of thousands or millions of years?" *ABC


A herbicide which carries a warning against its use near marine life is being used to combat weeds on the Nedlands foreshore. The Environment Minister Donna Faragher has confirmed the City of Nedlands is spraying the herbicide Chipco Spearhead on land adjacent to the Swan River. The product's label warns users not to spray the chemical near streams, rivers or waterways. Labor's Environment spokeswoman Sally Talbot says the State Government must investigate whether the herbicide is linked to the recent deaths of six Swan River dolphins. "I want to be able to reassure people that there's no connection between the use of a herbicide that says it's not to be used in a marine environment and some of obvious adverse affects on the dolphin population in that area," she said. Ms Faragher says despite the warning label the chemical can be used safely. "I'm advised by the Swan River Trust having consulted with the City of Nedlands that if the herbicide is applied according to label instructions and best practice procedures there is no contamination of adjacent waterways," she said. The City of Nedlands says it was unaware of any concerns about the use of the herbicide but will investigate the claims today. *ABC

Freshwater Fish

A national task force has been set up to help preserve native freshwater fish species. International experts have met in Adelaide and the 25 scientists say half of freshwater fish species in South Australia alone are under threat. Group president Professor Gordon McGregor Reid says many problems stem from state and territory governments cutting off wetlands during drought. He says there is a need to rehabilitate ecosystems. "It can actually make the environment very, very acid and you're talking about, you know, 'vinegar' levels and that can then sweep out into the main river systems and basically kill all the fish in a stretch of river," he said. "A short-term solution is actually giving a long-term headache. "It may come down to lawns or fish, you know it's nice to have a well-watered green lawn but do you want to have that at the expense of the loss of the fish that have been here for hundreds of thousands or millions of years?"


Look, but please don't touch. That's the plea from volunteer wildlife rescuers to anyone who sees this young seal. It was seen playing in the shallows and snoozing on the sand at Rye beach last week. Wildlife Help On the Mornington Peninsula secretary Denise Garratt said it was normal for yearling seals to come ashore at this time of year. ``It's not sick or dying and doesn't have to be pushed back into the water,'' Ms Garratt said. ``He's sleeping all day and feeding at night.'' Rye resident Roberta Ross took a photograph last Wednesday during her early morning walk. '`It was a a great start to the day,'' Ms Garratt said people should put their dogs on leashes if they saw the seal and leave it alone. * Morn'ton Leader


Satelite imagery has been used to convict a man who cleared seven hectares of ``vulnerable'' wildlife and vegetation from a station in the Riverland. Yesterday, in the Adelaide Magistrates Court, Overland Corner Station director Giovanni Mitolo, 40, of Virginia, was convicted and fined $20,000. The station was fined a further $60,000 for clearing the land near Barmera in 2006. Native Vegetation Council Member Dennis Mutton said costly fines are needed ``to serve as a reminder to landholders' not to break the law. ``This clearance has resulted in the loss of vegetation with a high biodiversity value including the removal of 28 species of plants.. (and) a number of bird species - some of which are already considered vulnerable,'' he said. The council will be taking further action to seek an order forcing Overland Corner, who were guilty of a simular offence in 2003, to re-grow the vegetation. *Adelaide

National Parks

The Queensland Labor Government, in a further blow to their environmental crdibilty, (if they had any) are moving to allow tourism developments inside and adjacent to several National Parks. These will include Fraser Island, D'Aguilar, Lamington, Cowan Sth on Moreton Island, Cardwell, Mission Beach, and the Whitsundays. You only have to look at the damage done to Fraser Island to see what such impacts are. But the benefits for the Government are considerable, resort developers will have to purchase or lease the NP land from the Government.....its another asset sale! * WPAA


A new survey of grey nurse sharks shows the species is still in severe danger of becoming extinct. The study, commissioned by the Federal Government, found just over 1,000 of the sharks along the east coast of Australia. That figure is significantly lower than the 5,000 needed to sustain the population. Accidental hooking is one of the main threats to the survival of the species. Nicky Hammond, the marine program manager for the National Parks Association of New South Wales, says the State Government must act now to protect key habitat sites. "Here we've got a critically endangered species, we know what the key threat to their survival is, we know where they spend the majority of their time," she said. "It's a relatively simple process to protect those sites from that key threat of fishing by creating marine sanctuaries and that way hopefully we can actually save this shark from going extinct. "Time and time again they continue to ignore putting in place the proper protection of marine sanctuaries in these areas and provide tokenistic protection instead. "We're calling on the NSW Government, we're saying enough is enough, that we need to now get these sanctuaries in place before the shark goes extinct." *ABC

Snake and Spider Bites

While 200 or so spider varieties exist in Australia, most are relatively harmless. But you certainly don't want to mess with the nasties such as funnel-webs and redbacks. Funnel-web bites should be treated with caution, Galwey says. If a person is bitten, keep the patient very still then apply an immobilisation bandage down the length of the area. For example, if bitten on the leg, wrap the bandage from the toes to the groin. ``If you don't have bandages you might be able to use pantyhose,'' Galwey says. ``It's not to cut off the circulation -- it's just to compress the blood supply.'' Venomous snake bites, such as that of the brown snake, should be treated in the same way. For redback spider bites, place an icepack on the area. And in all instances, call 000. *St johns Amblance


The international trade in frog legs could be spreading a deadly amphibian disease responsible for several species becoming extinct, according to a new study. Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and colleagues say that nearly 6000 other amphibian species are threatened with extinction from the parasitic fungus known as amphibian chytrid. The pathogen causes respiratory and neurological damage that eventually results in death. The researchers found that from 1996 through 2006, 100,000 tonnes of frog legs were imported from both wild and farmed sources. While they found no record of a frog species becoming extinct that was collected for food, poorly regulated amphibian trade is probably a greater risk to amphibian biodiversity than over-harvesting. *Mercury


A plucky kelpie that survived a crocodile attack at South Johnstone should serve as a warning to children who swim at the same spot, the dog's owner says. The Cairns Post reports a 2m croc tore chunks out of Leggy the kelpie cattle dog-cross, lunging at her and sinking its teeth into her side and belly when she ventured into the shallows at Sivyer bridge, near Innisfail on Tuesday afternoon. Leggy's owner Charles Edgerton is amazed she survived. "My dog gave a couple of big yelps, then there was a bit of a splash," he said. "It all happened so quickly … she and my other dog Harper were still right near the edge." *CM


The NZ 60 minutes program "Bloody Harvest" is the only ever media report that looks at the dark side of the commercial kangaroo kill. There have been 5028 online viewings, but only 118 comments made about it! In the unlikely event that the Russian imports begin again early next year, as the Government claims, kangaroo populations will be blasted as never before. If the support is there, NZ 60 minutes may do a followup. And there are other issues that the Australian media wont touch, such as the killing and hazing of the Fraser Island dingoes. If you dont do anything else this year to help kangaroos, now is the time to do something good. If you haven't already done so, please go to the NZ 60 minutes website below, and leave a comment at the bottom of the page. You dont need to "login" and you can use a nickname. Please support the only "tell it as it is" media report ever shown on television about the kangaroo kill. For the kangaroos, please..........just do it!...and thank you to those who have already done it!

Drugs are being smuggled into Aboriginal communities in Australia's far north inside dead kangaroos, the Northern Territory parliament was told on Tuesday. Former indigenous affairs minister Alison Anderson said cannabis was being sewn inside kangaroo carcasses to get it past police patrols. Outback roads are often littered with kangaroos killed by vehicles and the roadkill is often collected by Aborigines. "You have now got 8-year-olds on ganja (marijuana) in communities," she said, urging a crackdown on marijuana, which she said had replaced petrol sniffing in terms of addiction. Anderson also said that women were stuffing cannabis into their underwear and driving through checkpoints, knowing that police were not permitted to frisk females they suspect of smuggling drugs. - Sapa-dpa

Healthy female wallabies are more likely to have sons than daughters, according to a new study that may help resolve a long-standing debate on sex allocation in mammals. The research, led by Dr Kylie Robert of the University of Western Australia, supports the as yet unproven Trivers-Willard hypothesis that mothers will give birth to different sexes depending on their condition.The findings in tammar wallaby populations are published online in the journal Biology Letters. *ABCRead More,

Here at WPAA we are hearing some disturbing reports that the NT Government is worried about unexplained declines in kangaroo and wallaby populations in the Territory. *WPAA

Petition to Adidas: Stop using kangaroo leather. You can view this petition at: Please sign the petition "Petition to Adidas: Stop using kangaroo leather". Help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts.

Please also sign urgent kangaroo PETITIONS below:


SUNBUS says it was just following rules when it would not let a volunteer animal rescue worker carrying two wallaby joeys on board. The incident happened on Thursday as Tanya Dunham was trying to make her way to open the Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue centre at Manunda. She had been called in to cover for a sick colleague and, with her car off the road, Ms Dunham was forced to take the bus. Trying to get a ride from Kewarra Beach, Ms Dunham was not allowed on the bus after the driver was told by head office not to let the eight-month-old wallaby passengers on. Ms Dunham then started walking in the rain with her laptop, brief case and two wallabies named Diego and Dexter in her handbag. The wallaby orphans were brought into the refuge a couple of months ago and Ms Dunham took them home to care for them.

"I have to be with the wallabies all the time, they're are like kids I told him (the bus driver), normally I wouldn't but the centre has been inundated with calls," she said. "I thought it was veryun-Australian." Ms Dunham was eventually given a lift by a friend who saw her walking in the rain. Sunbus spokesman Richard Gabasa said under State Government law, an animal not used to assist a passenger with a disability was prohibited from entering the bus. "A person must not take an animal, that is not an assistance animal, on a public passenger vehicle without the permission of the operator or driver of the vehicle," he said. "Our first priority is the consideration of the travelling public." All workers at the volunteer rescue organisation have to take home animals brought into the centre, which acts as a call service and drop-off zone. *Cairns Post

Fraser Island Dingoes

We understand that DERM recently announced as part of their "management" strategy for Fraser Island, that dingoes would be discouraged (by hazing) from walking along the beach before 5pm and after 5am, in an attempt to keep them away from people. So then we recieved this report below from a Fraser Island resident.

"This evening, at 5.45 pm, during an evening walk along the beach on FI I saw a young dingo bitch and her puppy patrolling the high tide line (clearly they have learnt the new rules). The bitch went over the dune and disappeared, but the pup lingered on the dune and was still visible from the beach but simply minding its own business when it was spotted by a ranger’s vehicle. The rangers stopped instantly, did an extremely tight u-turn and hazed the pup with a slingshot. The pup was hit, the shot frightened the life out of it, and it disappeared over the dune. The rangers then tore off down the beach. I went over to investigate; it seemed the pup had run into a swamp type area and was howling. The bitch appeared and looked extremely concerned. She must have witnessed the event, and seemed too scared to come out of her hiding place to find her pup, which continued to howl.

If this is not disrupting pack structure, I don’t know what is. If this is not sport, I don’t know how else to describe it. Might I also add that the bitch had an ear that was tagged so badly the ear was drooping to the point of being closed, and it looked like some debris was lodged in the tag. The bitch went in search of her pup, and I was left wondering what the management of Frazer Island has come to, that innocent creatures are no longer allowed, within their DERM-allocated time slot, to go about their usual behaviors. There were a few other people on the beach at the time, I hope they didn’t see the disgraceful way that the rangers behaved towards our island’s most valuable tourist draw-card." * Network Item

Hunting in the US

Charges have been filed against three men accused of firing a shot at wildlife officers in Champaign County. The charges were filed against Todd M. Noel, 34, of , Urbana; Jesse W. Coffey, 37, of St. Paris and Jacob E. Shepherd, 18, of Somerset, Kentucky, who face various charges. The men were taken into custody for investigative purposes, but were not formally arrested on October 30th. The shooting happened near Ford Road and Woodville Pike in Champaign County. Two wildlife officers were on patrol looking for poachers. A bullet crashed through the cruiser's windshield, but no one was injured. Noel's arraignment was continued until Tuesday, Dec. 1. Coffey and Shepherd will face preliminary hearings on Dec. 3. *

This is the weekend that, once again, more than 600,000 people from every state in the Union and many foreign countries will converge upon our Wisconsin woods to, hopefully, shoot deer. I say "hopefully" because last year they also shot at least 25 homes and barns, three cars, one tractor with a farmer inside and a tree. One drunken guy in the Waupaca area didn't just shoot the tree, actually; he blasted away at the trunk until it fell over, according to state Department of Natural Resources wardens. The wardens found out because, when the tree went down, it hit him in the arm and he shot himself in the leg. No word on what kind of tree it was or whether the tree-hunter planned to field dress it. Aiming your gun at a tree isn't the worst thing you can do, I admit.

Just ask the wardens from the Adams County area, who last year approached a guy who was loaded - in more ways than one. According to a DNR report on the 2008 hunting season, "the hunter pointed his loaded rifle at them using his scope to see who (they) were." Somebody buy that guy some glasses - and not the kind you put beverages in. Maybe the warden from Minong in Washburn County had a better approach - literally. Two hunters in that area last year allegedly broke too many laws to count when they shot a small buck at night out a cabin window while it stood near a bait pile in a lighted area. They had just completed field dressing it, according to the DNR report, when one of the hunters heard footsteps behind them and whispered, "Who's there?" From out of the darkness came another whisper in response: "Game warden."

Odd, isn't it, how hunters often underestimate the eyesight of their fellow mammals? Or, in at least one instance last year, overestimate it. A couple of wardens from Necedah and Black River Falls areas last year found two hunters wearing camouflage because, the hunters explained, they didn't want the deer to be able to see them. Deer aren't the only ones with compromised sight - then again. One scofflaw hunter south of Tomah allegedly stood on a road (which is illegal) and shot three times at a deer that just wouldn't fall - or, amazingly, even move. Seems that the guy just couldn't figure out why. He was reloading when wardens intervened, reasoning they'd better stop the guy "from shooting up the decoy even more."

The 2008 hunt, all in all, was one of the safest on record, so the stuff I'm writing about is not the norm. Still, I've written in years past about hunters shooting everything from a Bible to a piano to a black horse. And last year, in addition to 277,000 deer, they illegally shot seven bears, a number of wolves and a tractor. In the last case, a farmer in Dodge County was sitting inside waiting for corn from a combine to fill up his hopper, according to wardens. While he sat there, two windows on the tractor's cab doors were shot out - apparently by a hunter with a rifle 300 yards away. Bullets, of course, often don't travel nearly as far. Two wardens from Douglas and Burnett counties, investigating how exactly a hunter managed to shoot himself in the toe, determined he had been inside a vehicle at the time his rifle discharged. Turned out the bullet went through more than his foot. It also went through the floor before hitting one of the tires. He later told wardens he'd been showing his friend how to unload. No word on whether, as the hunt begins this year, anyone has bothered to show them an easier way. *

Growers brace for bat attack

Worried stonefruit grower Renae Ferris is staring at the cruellest of ironies. From Ballandean in southern Queensland, where she farms with husband Michael, Ms Ferris prays there won't be a repeat of last year's devastation when $400,000 worth of crops was lost to flying foxes. Just ten minutes away is NSW, where the flying fox risk is no less but growers have the permission of the Rees Government to shoot the bats in defence of their crops while alternative, non-lethal methods of control are sought. Queensland growers, like the Ferris family, don't have this 'luxury', ever since the Bligh Government banned flying fox culling in May last year without consulting farming groups first and before alternative controls to using guns were put in place.

While the ink was still drying on the press release announcing the ban, flying foxes in numbers not seen for decades descended on the prime fruit growing region of Stanthorpe. The devastating Christmas raid stripped some $4 million from the local farm economy. The severity of the attack forced Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin and a team of high-ranking bureaucrats to fly to Stanthorpe, where they staged an 'orchard-walk' for the television cameras that came with them, before meeting with key farm leaders and invited growers behind closed doors. Queensland Country Life was also at that meeting and heard the minister announce the establishment of a working group to investigate non-lethal control methods before harvest this year. The chairman of that working group, Jim Pekin, said in August the group was gathering opinion from world experts on alternative controls, with many of the ideas now starting to come to fruition.

But after a frustrating 12 months, Ms Ferris, who has been part of that working group, says little progress has been made. On a scale of one to 10, she gives the Government a rating of four for its performance and delivery. Growcom chief advocate Rachel Mackenzie has also slammed the Govern-ment, saying its action amounted to far too little, too late. "To have such little action happening more than 12 months after the mitigation permits were withdrawn is just not good enough," she said. Even more frustrating for the Ferris family is that about an hour's drive south they have another farm in NSW at Mingoola. They harvest earlier there, and so flying foxes aren't as big a problem, but if they needed to shoot to protect their crops, getting the permit to cull would be no problem. Like many other fruit growers, Ms Ferris advocates shooting the 'scout bat', the lead flying fox which apparently flies ahead of the flock, alerting others to the location of food. The Government has repeatedly stated that the scout bat theory cannot be proved and has little basis in science.

But fellow district grower Ian Mungall is also a strong believer in the concept and told QCL earlier this year he had watched how scout bats called other flying foxes into his orchard. He could only watch helplessly as they devoured large swaths of his nectarine crop resulting in losses of $20,000. Ms Ferris says they're not redneck, gun-toting farmers, but maintains that controlling flying foxes using lethal means is still the most effective way of protecting their livelihood and their peace of mind. However, operating their three farms at Ballandean, Glen Aplin and Pikedale has been anything but stress-free for the Ferrises in 2009, especially with the onset of harvest this month. Ms Ferris says she's still haunted by their experience last year when she and Michael and their four sons aged 16, 14, 12 and nine were kept awake until the early hours of the morning, forced to ride around the orchard on ATVs to scare off the animals and salvage what they could from the flying fox attack. "I watched my husband vomit from exhaustion," she said. "I watched my sons get urinated and shat on by bats, carrying who knows what sort of diseases and viruses,'' she said. "You wouldn't see government workers in here without their full-length protective clothing on, but they're quite prepared to have farmers and their innocent children doing the dirty work in this filth. I find it quite offensive."

Despite the intense anxiety, Ms Ferris counts herself lucky. So far she is the only grower in the district to be fitted with an arsenal of flying fox deterrents as part of a State Government trial. Included is a hail cannon that emits a sonic boom, gas guns, air compressors, a radar system, strobe lights and lasers. The last of the inventory arrived last weekend, despite urgent calls from Ms Ferris that it was needed before November in case the bats came early and they lost their crop before harvest. Ms Ferris estimates the set-up has cost $60,000 and none of the equipment has yet to be proved effective. "But at least it's something, which is more than what other growers have around here," she said. *QCLife

Below is a FF update from the Sydney Botanic Gardens Newsletter,13/11/2009

Friends of The Gardens wholeheartedly supports the BGT in its application to relocate the flying-fox colony from the Royal Botanic Gardens. YOUR SUPPORT IS NEEDED, please send a submission supporting the application. The response from the Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) to the Public Environment Report (PER) submitted to DEWHA in early October 2009 has been received by the Botanic Gardens Trust (BGT). The original referral and subsequent information requested by the Commonwealth will be on display for 30 business days from 12 November 2009 to 23 December 2009 for reading only at the following locations:

City of Sydney Council (Town Hall House 456 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Ph. 02 9265 9333), DECCW Head Office (59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Ph. 02 9995 5000), Reception, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000. Ph. 02 9231 8111), DEWHA (John Gorton Building Environment entrance King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600. Ph 02 6274 1111) The document may also be viewed and downloaded at the Botanic Gardens Trust website

Interested persons and organisations are invited to comment in writing on the proposal TO: BOTANIC GARDENS TRUST, Email: Post: Flying-fox Relocation PER Feedback, Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000 Deadline for submission is 5:00 pm on Wednesday, 23 December, 2009. Submissions may be made public for legal or legislative reasons.

Wildlife Trafficking

A Californian man accused of smuggling 15 Australian lizards into the US by strapping them to his chest is owner of a reptile business who has made eight trips to Australia in the past six years, court documents allege. Michael Plank, 40, owner of US-based Big Game Reptiles, allegedly told US authorities he collected the lizards from the wild while in Australia. On November 17 he was stopped by US Customs officers at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving on a flight from Australia. A search revealed Plank had two money belts strapped to his chest and inside were the 15 protected Australian lizards - 11 skinks, two geckos and two monitors, authorities allege. The lizards were estimated to be worth $US8500 ($9220). "He said that he smuggled them on his person because in Australia it is illegal to export reptiles without a permit," US Fish and Wildlife Service special agent Mona Iannelli wrote in an affidavit filed in the US District Court. "Plank admitted that he placed the lizards into money belts which were strapped on his body to board his departing flight from Australia to Los Angeles."

Plank also allegedly admitted to smuggling lizards into the US from Europe in 2004 and 2007 and being owner of Big Game Reptiles. The Big Game Reptiles website, Ms Iannelli noted, stated it was "a world leader in the breeding of Australian geckos" and its "collection consists of the most diverse bloodlines available". The site offers an adult pair of soft spiny-tailed geckos, common in south-west West Australia, for $US1000 and babies for $US350 each. Centralian knob-tailed geckos, found in the Northern Territory, are offered for $US500 each. Plank is charged with fraudulently and knowingly importing lizards into the US and faces a maximum 20-year jail sentence and $US250,000 fine. He was released on a $US10,000 bond and will be arraigned in a Los Angeles court December 21. *

It can be done!

Following their victory today (24 Nov 09) in the NSW Land and Environment Court, the local community of Hilltop in the NSW Southern Highlands continues to call on the State Government to find a new location for the planned major shooting range in the area. The Hilltop Residents Action Group has been calling on the NSW Government to choose between other sites put forward which are less environmentally sensitive and without expensive problems with noise, access road safety, bushfire risk and proximity to a community. Today’s decision by the NSW Land and Environment Court will be a blow to the NSW Shooters Party which had been promised by the NSW Government the hugely expanded facility in return for its support to pass important government legislation in the NSW Legislative Council.

The NSW Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally had approved the Southern Highlands Regional Shooting Complex in February under the controversial part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The project was to be funded with nearly $10 million of taxpayers’ money. Local residents at Hilltop were incensed at the lack of consultation and consideration of alternative sites for the project and took action in the NSW Land Environment Court to stop it. Justice Biscoe today declared the governmental approval of the project under the controversial 3A legislation void and prohibited further work on the development. “This is a resounding victory for local people against the bulldozing tactics of the NSW Government and the Shooters Party,’ said Hilltop Residents Action Group spokeswoman, Jodie Laing.

“The plain fact is that this development is too big, too close to Hilltop and too dangerous. The shooting range would deliver thousands of tonnes of lead into Sydney’s water catchment and disrupt the lives of local residents including the kids at the local primary school,” Ms Laing added. The Hilltop Residents Action Group has provided a myriad of alternative locations for the shooting range, all of which the NSW Government has refused to consider. The court’s decision is also another blow to the NSW Government’s fondness for using Part 3A of the EPA Act to push through pet projects in the face of opposition from local communities. *Hilltop Residents Action Group


Australia's venomous redback spiders are on the march in Japan, where they are believed to have arrived years ago as stowaways on cargo ships, a wildlife expert warned Wednesday. The creepy-crawlies, named after their fiery markings, have infested the Osaka region and are drawing closer to the capital Tokyo, said Japan Wildlife Research Centre official Toshio Kishimoto. A dozen people have reportedly been bitten in Osaka prefecture alone, media reports say, including a six-year-old boy who was treated with antivenom in June, the first time the medication had been used in the country. "Their poison is strong and they are particularly dangerous to people in weak physical condition, like children and the elderly," Kishimoto told AFP. "Redbacks are becoming a common species in Japan. They are very numerous, especially in the western region, and are now often sighted in residential areas.... Once the spiders spread, it's hard to eliminate them."

Redback bites, which inject a potent neurotoxin, have caused numerous deaths in Australia, although an antivenom stocked in hospitals has prevented fatalities more recently. Redbacks were first spotted in Japan in 1995, around Osaka, a major port where, experts believe, they may have arrived in a container of Australian woodchips used to make paper in Japan. Several years ago a major redback infestation was found in the street drainage system of the city, and the arachnids have now spread to prefectures covering roughly a third of the country. In one case, a man moving from Osaka north to the Tokyo region by car unknowingly took a redback spider with him after the animal had latched onto the vehicle, the wildlife researcher said. He said Japanese people must become more aware of the dangers of redbacks, a species long feared in Australia, where the creatures are known to lurk in garden sheds, in shoes left outdoors, and under toilet seats. "People need to be warned on how to treat them, and to be careful when they're out cleaning ditches, and to wear thick cotton gloves for example," said Kishimoto. *AFP.


A dramatic drop in the estimated NZ possum population is good news for native birds. New research shows possum numbers have plummeted from between 60 and 70 million during the 1980s, to about 30 million. The Wellington region recorded the biggest drop, of 87 per cent. The region has about 200,000 possums, but without possum control the number would have been between 1.3 and 1.5 million. Forest and Bird spokeswoman Helen Bain said the drop was a factor in exploding numbers of tui in the Wellington area. "We're getting a lot of anecdotal reports that numbers are up. I was in town the other day and I would have seen about 20 of them." Possums would raid the nests of native birds, such as tui, taking eggs, chicks and sometimes even adult birds, she said. "If we get possum numbers down, native birds and plants come back big time."

The study, by Landcare Research wildlife biologist Bruce Warburton, used satellite-imaging technology to analyse 52 vegetation types, which helped show how many possums each area could accommodate. The Conservation Department and regional councils also provided information. The study found the forests could host 48 million possums, with no pest control. But when efforts to beat possums were included, that figure dropped to 30 million. "New Zealanders have been fascinated by how many possums there are, ever since the estimates of 60 to 70 million were generated in the 1980s." Australian brush-tailed possums, introduced in 1837 to establish a fur trade, have become New Zealand's main pest in both ecological and economic terms. Among their favourite foods are the leaves of natives trees such as pohutukawa and totara.

Possum control is carried out on about 13.3 million hectares – about half all vegetated land – for conservation and to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis. The Conservation Department spent $14.9 million on it last year, mainly using 1080 poison. The results of the study did not mean the war against possums was over, DOC spokesman Rory Newsman said. "We are getting some good results in places, but there is constant re-invasion by possums." *

Ed Comment; The use of 1080 poison is widely opposed by many Australians and New Zealanders. Its a cruel and lingering death for any nontarget animal who picks up the poison, and it's purely a bandaid. This report, no doubt authorised by the NZ Government, claims an increase in bird populations, which is great, but without a permanent, longterm, humane solution, the problem just keeps coming back. We have the technology to develop effective contraception solutions, to stop unwanted animals from breeding, but it will never get developed or used, because 1080 is easier to use, even though its just a bandaid. Australia and New Zealand use more 1080 than the rest of the worlds total 1080 use.


The Qld State Government-enforced practice of returning injured koalas to where they were found - even near busy roads - is under fire from green groups and researchers. Carers say more koalas than ever are being killed by vehicles and the carnage could result in their extinction in the state's southeast. New research on the Gold Coast could hold the key to saving the much-loved animals, according to environmentalists. Gold Coast City Council has begun relocating a handful of koalas at Coomera – part of a colony of more than 100 under threat from a housing development – to Canungra in the hinterland as part of a $20 million pilot program. Researchers are using radio transmitters to determine if the koalas stay in their new home before moving the other animals. The current practice for carers, enforced by the State's Nature Conservation Act, is to return injured koalas to their "home range" despite the increasing threat of road traffic or dogs.

Wildlife Australia carer Karen Scott hopes the study will lead to a change in laws that force carers to return injured koalas to within 5km of where they were rescued. "I think there needs to be a bit of give and take in the legislation. Maybe 10km is a better limit, where they can establish a home range and not get hit by a car or attacked by a dog," she said. Green groups such as the Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council and Australia Koala Foundation, following a briefing by council officers in the past week, welcomed the project, but fear governments will be too slow to act. Australian Koala Foundation chief executive officer Deborah Tabart said the future of the species was "on the edge" in southeast Queensland, where 25,000 deaths had been recorded in the past 10 years. She acknowledged the new research could help prevent their extinction within a decade. "You can't protect them from the dangers . . . and they put them back in the same war zone." Currumbin Valley resident Steve Barnes, who has saved several koalas after they were hit on busy roads, believes they should be relocated to safe bushland. "It's crazy putting them back where they have been hit." *Courier Mail


THE Queensland Government has been accused of putting the receipt of licence fees ahead of conservation motives and the viability of professional kangaroo shooters.There are almost 2000 kangaroo harvesting licences in existence in Queensland, a number that professional operators say prevents kangaroo shooting from becoming a viable long-term occupation. Harvesters say those who stick with the industry and supply processors through periods of low prices receive no reward when prices improve because of the number of opportunistic shooters who are able to quickly flood the industry and saturate supply when prices are high. Limiting the number of licences would lead to more sustainable harvesting of kangaroo populations and would foster better and more mutually beneficial relationships between shooters and landholders, according to harvesters who spoke to Queensland Country Life last week. It would also cause licences to grow in value, become saleable and allow shooters to earn a viable living from the industry, while generating a more reliable year-round supply for processors. Some also argue that capping licences would encourage more shooters to adopt the industry as a full-time profession and would reduce the risk of 'fly-by-nighters' or part-time shooters undermining the industry's integrity with un-professional standards.

Goondiwindi shooter Graham Mackney said the 2000 licences currently issued by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) in Queensland were far too many. "The department has told us it is impossible to cap the number of licences, but they said that about fishing licences and they soon changed that." DERM regional manager Chris Hill said the department uses a quota system to manage the conservation of kangaroos, and did not believe that capping licences was the solution. "Currently, quotas in Queensland are set between 10 and 20 percent of the estimated population for each species, as scientific research has demonstrated that harvesting at these levels ensures a sustainable harvest that does not detrimentally impact on the conservation of the species," Mr Hill said. "The annual harvest can be reviewed at any time to consider changing circumstances such as the effects of drought or disease." However, shooters have challenged the quota system's ability to work in practice, and believe the department has put the receipt of licence fees ahead of sustainable management of populations.

"The reason we are shooting quotas out is because DERM is selling tags for money, and because there are too many shooters out there and too many shooters sitting on tags," Mr Mackney said. "In a normal Russian market year, the Central Zone had an allocation of 700,000 tags for the year, but they would have sold 800,000, and then had 100,000 out there that they couldn't really control, which is why it was going over. "That is why they have had to change the tagging scenario. In the Central Zone there are 400,000 tags available this year, and once 400,000 come in, that is it - you can't get any more. "It is a little wrong but a lot right - the industry has to be turned back into a professional industry." Another shooter told Queensland Country Life that he believed DERM was concerned only about the "couple of hundred bucks per licence" it received, which explained why there were currently almost 2000 macro-pod harvesting licences in Queensland. "They get on their pedestal and say it is all about sustainable harvesting and the rest of it, but they don't put it into practice. They will give as many licences as they can."

The shooter said that a full-time harvester required between five to 10 properties depending on size and location to make a living; however, it was not uncommon to see several shooters working single properties in the past. "It is not unusual to go to some places and see two or three spotlights working in the one area on a particular night - it gets a bit interesting at times. "Some landholders don't care who is shooting them or how they're shooting them - as long as they're being shot, that's all they want to know. "Most professional harvesters will look after those properties as if they're their own, because they have to nurture those animals and the relationship with the landholder to give them the access they need." *QCL

Water for Wildlife

Mornington Peninsula wildlife carers fear they will be forced to bury hundreds of dead marsupials this summer. The group described the distressing scenes of last summer's heatwave when baby and mother ringtail possums died from heat stress and dehydration. They are calling on residents to help them cut the toll. Rye Beach Vet Hospital senior nurse Carolyn Maguire, Tyabb wildlife carer Jennie Bryant and Wildlife Help on the Mornington Peninsula (WHOMP) secretary Denise Garratt all described last summer as the worst they had seen. They treated record numbers of dehydrated and heat-stressed possums and bird life and all said residents could make a difference. Ms Maguire's clinic only managed to save two ringtail possums from a record 60 handed in during a four-day period.

``It was tremendously heartbreaking,'' Ms Maguire said. ``This year we are seeking to get the word out and to educate the public on ways they can help prevent this devastating loss.'' She wants residents to put containers of water in backyard trees. ``People just don't realise there's no moisture in the trees or water on the sides of roads where wildlife used to drink.'' Ms Garratt said ringtail possums were the first to suffer in the heat. She estimated hundreds, possibly thousands, were lost across the peninsula. ``It was dreadful,'' she said. ``They were dropping their babies first then the mothers dropped.'' She advised residents to put water in shady spots in backyards and cover any distressed ringtails, take them inside and give them water with honey then call a wildlife shelter or take the animal to the nearest vet clinic. Ms Bryant was handed about 50 ringtail possums and four koalas last summer. ``When it gets into 40-plus degrees they can't cope,'' she said. WHOMP can be contacted on 0417 380 687. *Frankston Standard

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!