Monday, January 4, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 29/12/09

Freedom of Information....or Not!

There's been quite a bit of discussion amongst some of the groups about the Freedom of Innformation Act, as it applies in the various States and Territories. There is no doubt there has been tightening up of information that is available through FOI, with some States such as Victoria making it very difficult to access information about "culling" permits. A couple of times during the last 10 years or so, WPAA has applied through FOI in each State to get info on the number of, and species of, wildlife kill Permits that have been issued. In most cases most information asked for was obtained, although it was impossible to get private property names, it was possible to get (at considerable cost) the Permits issued on public land, (airports, race courses, golf courses, some orchids, Commonwealth owned land etc.

We have to say that the number and species killed merely because they inconvenience humans, is staggering. Most people would never believe we deliberately kill millions of our native birds and animals every year, just because they are "in the way". In the past, the multinational media has been little interested in these figures, but things have changed somewhat in recent years. Just a couple of years ago the SunHerald did its own FOI search of Victorian kill Permits, and released the details in their paper. Some sections of the media have picked up on the community opposition to "culling", there are many more independent news outlets now, and of course wildlife websites attract millions of visitors, especially overseas residents who love our wildlife. In fact, the Kangaroo Protection Coalition website gets hundreds of visitors daily from 95 countries, and many of those visitors are from educational facilities Worldwide.

So this year we are going to again do FOI searches in every State and Territory, for the details of Permits issued in 2009, with the intent of getting these figures (or whatever they will give us) all over the Internet, and all over the media. We understand some groups are already trying to access Permit details about the latest Puckapunyal kill, and good luck to them, Victoria and the ADF are very closelipped, so we will focus on the last years kill numbers. Unfortunately many documents that should be available thru FOI are held back, with bureaucrats citing privacy, confidentiality, etc, and some docos even get sent to Cabinet just so they can be refused. Freedom of Information is not freely avaliable to the community, nor is it "free". We will keep you informed. *WPAA

Puckapunyal Kangaroo Kill Thank you all so very much for helping out with the night patrols of the Pucka site. As yet we have not been able to hear or see anything on site. Defence's Operations department would not confirm or deny the cull was taking place or if or when it would be over, however their media department has been saying to people that it finished last Friday. We didnt see or hear anything on Friday night but our source told us that there was a lot of shooters going to the site on Thursday night for a 'massive' cull for a week but that must have been the last night. We now have to apply for the documents, management plan etc... through FOI, and that can take up to 45 days, quite possibly they will not even be issued under FOI, or they may cost too much, we'll have to wait and see. If they are not issued under FOI then we will get further legal advice from an animal rights lawyer and go back to the 'Pucka Sit In' idea and not leave the site until the documents are supplied, and show the media and the public the Governments lack of transparency and secret continual attacks on our native wildlife. So from now we will CEASE the night patrols and the 'Sit In' UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. If you are available in January to help out with the possible 'Sit In' please let me know so I can get a roster prepared quickly if we need to and I have your contact phone numbers. Again thank you to everyone and we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe New Year. *Puckupunyal Protestors More About Pucka Kangaroos

Wildlife advocates are outraged at the continued cull of kangaroos. Kangaroos were killed at Defence land at Puckapunyal earlier this month. Wildlife Victoria said the cull had been condemned internationally. "This inhumane practice must stop, it is no longer acceptable to the Australian and international public,” Wildlife Victoria spokesman Manfred Zabinskas said. “These kangaroos will be traumatised by the experience, they form extremely strong social bonds within their mob and this will leave them grieving for their mate or missing family members. “Joeys can become separated from their mothers during the panic and spend weeks crying out in their desperate attempt to reunite with their mums. Many of those mums won’t be there after the cull.” Australian Society for Kangaroos spokeswoman Fiona Corke said group members continued to inspect the site and believed the kangaroos were in good health before they were called.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment conducted the cull because it believed the kangaroos were at risk of starvation. “Give me a break, the `let’s kill kangaroos in case they may starve to death at some stage in the future’ line is being exploited, yet again, as a weak and lazy excuse instead of implementing non-lethal methods that in this case are obviously too easy, such as allowing the kangaroos free passage from the site and educating farming communities that kangaroos are an integral part of the Australian ecology,” Ms Corke said. A spokesman for DSE said kangaroos were also endangering the environmental values of the Puckapunyal site. “The kangaroos at Puckapunyal are at risk of starvation and the most humane option possible has been chosen to reduce the number of kangaroos to a sustainable level. This is occurring under a management plan, which has been developed for the site,” he said. “Puckapunyal has significant environmental values, which are under threat from overgrazing.” *Bendigo Advertiser

A string of crossbow attacks on kangaroos in urban parklands in Western Australia is being investigated by police and animal welfare authorities. Five kangaroos have been found with arrows lodged in their bodies at Mandurah, south of Perth, in the past two weeks, the RSPCA says. One wounded kangaroo had a small joey in its pouch when it was discovered last night, RSPCA spokesman Richard Barry said. The roo had to be put down and the joey is now in the animal welfare group's care. Another two kangaroos with arrows in their bodies were reported seen in Mandurah this morning. "This brings the number of roos shot with a bow and left to die with arrows lodged in their bodies, to five in just two weeks," Mr Barry said. "All these attacks have taken place in the parklands region in Mandurah." He appealed for anyone with information on the attacks to call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000. *

Almost two million kangaroos could be killed for meat next year under new quotas set by the Queensland Government. The Department of Environment and Resource Management says the quotas include include more than a million eastern greys and 880,000 red kangaroos. This year only 51 per cent of the quota was filled because Russia withdrew from the market. The department's Mike Birchley says the new quotas have been set using population surveys and scientific modelling. "The commercial quotas are currently set at between 10 and 20 per cent of the estimated population for each species for each zone," he said. "The quotas have increased for red kangaroos in all three harvest zones. "They've increased for eastern grey kangaroos in the central and eastern zone and quotas have decreased for common wallaroos in the central zone but increased slightly in the eastern and western zone." Tom Garrett, from the Queensland Macropod and Wild Game Harvesters Association, says the Russian ban on the import of kangaroo meat has made it a tough year for the industry. "Take 49 per cent of your income away and that will indicate fairly well what hardships are going on at the moment," he said. "I would imagine there are some people really hurting at the moment." *ABC

A family in northern Tasmania has raised six real white boomers in time for Christmas. As the Rolf Harris song goes, Santa's reindeer cannot cope with the heat so he has six large white kangaroos, or boomers, pull his sleigh across Australia. After many years of caring for wallabies, Michael James has bred six white albino wallabies. "It's only the males that carry the white genes," Mr James explains. "If you have a grey male and a white female, they'll always have grey joeys." Mr James says the boomers do not like the sun, but beat the heat by finding a shady spot under the trees. "As you can see they're just sort of laying around and not doing a lot and getting ready for tonight," he said. Mr James says the trick is getting them to stay still so they can be harnessed to Santa's sleigh*ABC

Fraser Island Dingoes

We've just had this film brought to our attention, it flows on from much community criticism about the inappropriate ear tagging programs for Fraser Island dingoes.


Officials say Australian rangers seized almost 200 saltwater crocodiles this year in concern for the safety of the residents. 196 of the deadly reptiles were picked up in the northern city of Darwin, the largest a 16 foot male. Regional director of Conservation and Wildlife, Brett Easton, told AFP, "Once captured they are taken to a crocodile farm where they live a long and lazy life." ( Ed. Yes, in a handbag or designer shoes) The government removed 190 "salties" last year from waterways near residential, recreation and swimming areas. Easton said some of the crocodiles were found too close to residential areas, such as storm drains and swimming areas. Easton said flooding in the wet season has allowed the crocs to move more freely through areas they would usually avoid. "In the Northern Territory we all live fairly close to water and saltwater crocodiles are not unusual in our waters," he said. Two people, including a young girl, were killed in crocodile attacks this year.

Meanwhile two men who made funny faces from inside a baited crocodile trap while their friend stood on top of the cage were criticized for their "absolute stupidity" by authorities in Australia's Northern Territory on Saturday. An image of the three men risking their lives and limbs surfaced Saturday after they were posted on Facebook. It is believed the picture was taken at Manton Dam, about 45 miles south of Darwin. The photo shows one man atop the floating metal cage -- designed to capture 13 foot-long saltwater crocodiles -- and two men inside. Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife rangers have labeled the act as "absolute stupidity." "It won't be tolerated anymore," senior ranger Peter Phillips said. "We will investigate this case and if we find out who they are, they will be fined. "The agency has zero tolerance with people interfering with croc traps." Offenders could be fined up to $48,570 or jailed for five years for the reckless act, the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act states. *NT News


More than 125 whales have died in two separate strandings in New Zealand, conservation officials say. At Farewell Spit, west of the South Island tourist town of Nelson, 105 long-finned pilot whales died in a mass beaching on Saturday, while 21 pilot whales died on Sunday at a beach on the east coast of the North Island. Both areas have a history of whale strandings. Conservation department official Hans Stoffregen said none of the stranded pod at Farewell Spit could be saved, the Nelson Mail newspaper reported. "They were in bad shape. By the time we got there two-thirds of them had already died. We had to euthanise the rest," he said. *ABC


A Parliamentary inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's fox eradication program concludes the vermin is established in small numbers in the state. It has taken months of public consultation but the Parliamentary Accounts Committee report says there is enough evidence to conclude there is a population of foxes in the state. Committee chairman Jim Wilkinson says numbers are low but the future of at least 24 native species is threatened and at risk, if the fox population increased. "We've got to do everything we can to eradicate them," he said. Recommendations include increasing funding for the Fox Taskforce and regular progress reviews. *ABC

Wildlife Trafficking

Wildlife detectives say investigations into the illegal trafficking of bear gall bladders have led to prison time for one man and a hefty fine for another. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says Wednesday that William A. Page, a meat cutter from Curlew, was sentenced to a year jail in Ferry County Superior Court after being convicted on six counts of unlawful trafficking in wildlife. Page, 63, was sentenced Dec. 18 and was also fined $3,000. Investigators say Page admitted buying 35 gall bladders in 2007 and 2008, including 17 from undercover officers. Investigators say some believe gall bladders have healing powers and can draw thousands of dollars on the black market. In a separate case, Jason Yon, 51, owner of JAX Market in Spokane, was fined $1,000 in Spokane County Superior Court on Dec. 22 for two felony convictions of illegally trafficking in wildlife. He was found guilty of purchase four gall bladders during an undercover investigation. *Seattle PI

WA Targa Car Rally Kicked Out....Communities Can Win!

Just to let you know that we managed to kick Targa West Rally out of the Chittering Shire. They came into our wildlife corridor to race last year for the first time in the 5 years the rally has been running here in Chittering WA. We did meet with the obnoxious Bob Schrader before the rally but got no sympathy for our wildlife. The result of the 2009 rally racing through our rural/residential estate (of 5km) was 1 - one year old doe killed, 1 - adult doe of approx 5 years with horrific injuries and had to be shot. I have her joey in care (named him Timmy) and he is doing well. I personally had to spend nearly $3,000 dollars for extra fencing to protect my wildlife from the horrendeous noise of 100 cars doing in excess of 150km @ the back of my property. I was on the point of a section of the rally where the cars decelerated and excellerated. We decided put into action our opposition to rally to the shire with a petition from our estate and @ the final council meeting won our goal with the council voting 5-2. What did astound us was the fact that the decision was in effect for the whole shire. It appears that a RALLY had become obnoxious to the majority of the residents throughout the shire irrespective of the propaganda pushed by the Targa West Rally cordinator/owner Bob Shcrader. I think Schrader's decision to come into our wildlife corridor was a bad mistake as we are very passionate about our roos (and other native animals). It has proven to me that the 'little people' can win. The rally has raced through this shire for 5 years, killing wildlife, and now no more!!!! Schrader was 'stunned' by the councils decision, and urged the supports of the rally (now in the minority) to angrily front the council (that' the arrogance of the man) to have the decision reversed. Thankfully the decision CAN NOT be reversed. To all who care about wildlife we say, never ever give up fighting for our beautiful roos (and other native animals) against these million dollar organisations. It was no easy feat to fight against these kinds of organisations but it can be done. I am always interested in anything to do with kangaroos so keep the emails coming. Kindest Regards, Kim

A NSW Kangaroo Quota Closed

The drought has hit yet another sector, with low numbers forcing NSW authorities to stop shooters harvesting grey kangaroos. The ban, in the Griffith Kangaroo Management Zone, is a further blow to Riverina shooters as they already struggle to find numbers to fill a diminishing market. A few years ago, many chillers operated in the Riverina with as many as 30 people employed in some western Riverina towns shooting kangaroos. But with the suspension of the Russian market earlier this year due to contamination fears, demand has stalled. The lack of demand is reflected in the number of tags issued by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, which said the use of tags this year had been low.

Despite the smaller numbers of tags issued, shooters have been stopped from harvesting eastern grey and western grey kangaroos in the Griffith zone, a 100,000 sq km area, which covers much of the Riverina. DECCW kangaroo management program manager Nicole Payne said populations of grey kangaroos in the zone had "fallen substantially". The sole remaining full-time kangaroo shooter in the Hillston area, Bob Brittle, said it would take all his skills to fill even the relatively small requirement of 100 kangaroos for his buyer each week. "It will be frustrating as we will have to drive by grey kangaroos and only shoot the reds," he said. The latest restrictions add to the hardship in the industry already caused by the suspension of the Russian market for roo meat, which the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia says has resulted in the loss of 2500 jobs in regional areas. *Weekly Times

Ed Comment; I guess it shows just how badly the NSW Government is "managing" kangaroos, when they allow populations to fall this low. You can make a comment on this story here;


The traditional medicinal practice of smoking dried vulture brains to induce a vision of winning lotto numbers is killing off the bird's population in South Africa, researchers say. Scelo, a young healer in downturn Johannesburg's market for muti, or traditional medicine, says the birds are becoming more scarce. "I only have one every three or four months," he said. "Everybody asks for the brain. You see things that people can't see. For lotto, you dream the numbers." Rolled into a cigarette or inhaled as vapours, vulture brains can also help at the horse races, boost an exam performance, or lure more clients to a business, according to believers. Next to snake skins and ostrich feet, as well as donkey fat to chase away bad spirits, Scelo sells a small bottle with just a speck of ground brains for about 50 rand ($7.50). The entire bird could go for 2,000 rand ($299).

Another traditional healer, speaking on condition of anonymity, says vulture bones or feathers can also be mixed with herbs to make medicines. "We make the brain dry and mix it with mud and you smoke it like a cigarette or a stick. Then the vision comes," he said. He prescribes mainly vulture heads, which he says bring visions of the future, endowing users with the bird's excellent vision that helps them fly out of nowhere to descend on carcasses. According to experts, it is a belief shared along Africa's east coast, as well as in some west African countries. A young Zulu named Mthembeni wanted to buy a blend of ground brains and beaks for his dogs, but he turned away, dismayed at the price. "I put it on their nose. Then they can detect any strange presence from kilometres away," he said. "It gives security to my family."

At least 160 vultures are sold each year for muti, according to a study by two wildlife groups. Researcher Steve McKean estimates that up to 300 vultures are killed by a variety of causes, especially in the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal, where poaching still goes largely unpunished. "Traditional use as it is currently happening is likely to render vultures extinct in southern Africa on its own within 20 to 30 years," he said. "Vultures are protected by law." Mr McKean said improved public awareness and a better understanding of the trade in the birds was needed. Seven of the nine species of vulture are considered endangered. Hunters shoot them, trap them or poison them with a pesticide called Aldicarb, which is deadly to humans, according to the group Ezemvelo Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife. Scelo says he knows how to avoid the pesticide. "The meat is blue when it's poisoned," he said. Aside from hunters, vultures also face the threat of electrocution if they fly into high-voltage lines or drown in farm reservoirs, all the while coupled with a shortage of food and the loss of their habitat. *AFP

Flying Foxes

Trees in Burdekin Park were uprooted, split in two and stripped of branches when Monday night’s storm struck. Singleton Council parks department was in overdrive on Tuesday cutting trees, removing branches, cleaning leaf debris, chipping and sweeping streets. Two trees in Burdekin Park were destroyed, with manager parks and facilities Alan Fletcher explaining that a Kei-apple was completely uprooted and another struck by lightening. “And yes because of the bats I did inform the State and Federal Governments of what we were doing,” he said on Tuesday. “We have been working on a long list of jobs but are getting through them. "The debris we do collect is either being mulched or taken to be stock piled.” Council parks staff and contractors were used throughout most of Tuesday removing trees from roads and clearing streets of leaf litter. Mr Fletcher expected Burdekin Park to be cleared of debris and returned to its previous appearance by yesterday morning. *Singleton Argus

A bad time of year for it, but please consider writing a submission for each of the draft national recovery plans for flying-foxes out for comment. Due date is only 1 week away – 4 January. The draft recovery plans can be downloaded from and These web pages also have details about where to direct your submission. Here are a few points you could make in a submission about the spectacled flying-fox recovery plan:

Conservation status: The Queensland Government should list the species as vulnerable under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Plan objectives: The objectives should include the conservation of the species’ functional roles in seed dispersal and pollination of native plants.

Orchard mortality: Rephrase Objective 1 to ‘Reduce the risk of mortalities in orchards’. As it may be impractical to develop new methods of deterrence, consider instead the need for a reliable method of assessing the effectiveness of different deterrents and/or incentives for netting.

Habitat protection: Develop criteria for ‘critical’ habitat, including both core habitat and habitat crucial for resilience in the face of stochastic events (eg. cyclones) Model the extent of foraging habitat required to support current SFF population and assess the potential impacts of predicted levels of vegetation clearing. Investigate the value of regrowth vegetation as habitat for SFFs.

Public education: The important role of carer and conservation organisations in education should be acknowledged. Recovery actions should include providing support to these organisations to conduct high-quality education programs.

Tick mortality: This threat should be ranked ‘significant’ rather than ‘moderate’.Include an action to investigate management options for wild tobacco and conduct management in priority areas to reduce the incidence of tick paralysis.

Evaluation: Conservation and care groups should be included as contributers to review the performance of the plan. Information: The recovery plan needs to be updated with research findings from the past few years (because there were so many years (7) between the plan being drafted and it being released for comment, key references have not been mentioned). *Network Item

The Fair Dinkum Characters

The new Summer range of toddlers wildlife shirts, shorts, and singlets are now avaliable on the Fair Dinkum Characters website at too late for Christmas unfortuntely. The Dinkums are Ambassadors for the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. Watch for them playing in a Shopping Centre near you!

New political party, Animal Justice Party The time has come for animals to have a voice in the political arena. Animal Rights/Welfare is the next social justice movement and everyone can be a part of it. Please go to this website below to see how you can make a difference. Help end the suffering and become a voice for those without one. There you will find forms for both NSW and Federal memebrship. At this point no memebership fee is payable, and its important to get 750 members for the ANIMAL JUSTICE PARTY to be registered as a political party. Other States will follow. It is important you fill in your name exactly as it appears on the Electoral Roll, otherwise your application will be invalid. You can download membership forms from the website. Please post to this address only... Animal Justice Party, P.O. Box 3126, Blakehurst 2221, Sydney NSW The animals need you......

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!