Monday, May 24, 2010

Wildlfie Bytes 25/5/10

Wildlife MiniBytes

Wildlife for Pets

Wildlife for pets is firmly back on the agenda of those who wish to make money from wildlife, with CSIRO releasing a report next month espousing the "benefits' of humans keeping all sorts of wildlife species for pets. The arguments will be that wildlife should not be avaliable from petshops, but would be purchased from especially licenced breeders, and purchasers would have to be "qualified" to look after wildlife. It's all about money of course, its got nothing to do with what's best for wildlife. One would think that a government funded quango like SCIRO could find better things to do. *WPAA


Two Cheltenham men face possible charges over the alleged removal of whale bones from a Flinders beach. If convicted, each could be fined more than $27,000. Wildlife officers have recovered 10 bones believed to have been removed from a blue whale carcass in April and May. The whale had washed up on Cyrils Beach. Parks Victoria rangers on routine patrol reported the disturbance of the whale to wildlife officers from the Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE). DSE compliance officer Emily Gibson said others may have also removed bones from the whale carcass. ``We would encourage anyone who has collected bones from the carcass and wishes to voluntarily surrender them to contact us on 136 186. ``This report can be made anonymously.'' To report a stranding, entanglement, injury or death of a whale or a dolphin, phone 1300 136 017. *Mordialoc News


Ducks are breeding out of season at Elsternwick Park, with an expert saying climate change is to blame. Port Phillip EcoCentre co-ordinator Neil Blake said he had seen ducks mating as well as chestnut teal ducklings at the lake this month. The breeding season should be between August and February. ``It will be interesting to see if they (the ducklings) make it through the winter,'' Mr Blake said. ``Maybe this will be a good reminder for people to do those easy little things to cut their power consumption.'' Department of Sustainability and Environment wildlife management project leader Ian Temby said waterbirds usually bred in spring and summer. ``The mild conditions have led to several reports of breeding by waterbirds including chestnut teals,'' Mr Temby said. ``The availability of food and survival rate of ducklings is also dependent on conditions remaining favourable.'' Melbourne recorded its second warmest April on record last month. Weatherzone meteorologist Samuel Terry said: ``Typically we'd expect an increase in cold weather systems for April in Melbourne, but for most of the month we didn't see that.'' *Caulfield Leader


Maybe it was Hurricane Andrew blowing down a snake importer's warehouse in 1992. Maybe it was snake lovers who bought cute baby reptiles, only to dump them in the wild when they grew too voracious. Florida wildlife officials say they may never know their origin, but there is no doubt about this fact: Florida is home to thousands of Burmese pythons that have turned the Everglades into a nesting area, raising concerns about their impact on native wildlife and possible migration into developed areas. "People already have this built-in fear of snakes," said Ron Magill of Miami Metrozoo. "Now you're talking about 20-foot snakes . . . ." Yet in recent months, entire clusters of these great serpents of Southeast Asia -- which can grow up to weigh more than 200 pounds -- have been turning up dead in what would typically be their mating season, one of the few welcome casualties of the record cold temperatures that beset the Sunshine State in early 2010. *Washington PostRead more


A saltwater crocodile has been caught in a trap in the Katherine River. Rangers removed the 3.1m saltie from a crocodile trap located in the river at the Ballongilly Mango Farm. Parks and Wildlife senior wildlife ranger Melissa Farrelly said the trap was set about 30km downstream from the town of Katherine. ``This is the fifth estuarine (saltwater) crocodile caught in the Katherine River this year,'' she said. The Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport has urged the public to BE CROCWISE and remember that crocodile danger is real. For more information go to To report crocodile sightings in the Darwin region phone 0419 822 859 or in the Katherine region phone 0407 958 405. *NT News

Your own wildlife Website!

Last week we showed our readers how to get their own website...quickly, easily, and for free. Congratulations to those who took action and built one, we know that several people did! Dont forget to send us a link to your wildlife website so we can add it to our list of wildlife websites. If you need a website, and havent built it yet, go to and get started now. *WPAA


At least 150 sea turtles have washed up dead or dying along the U.S. Gulf Coast since the giant oil spill off Louisiana, a higher number than normal for this time of year, a leading wildlife expert said on Monday. The toll among sea turtles has been steadily rising since the deep-sea well ruptured last month, and the stranding count began to reach an unusually high level in the past week, said Dr. Michael Ziccardi, a veterinarian overseeing some of the area's wildlife rescue teams. Several days ago, when the number of dead turtles stood at just over 100, federal wildlife officials said that was still considered typical for the season. Wildlife officials are especially concerned for the well-being of sea turtles in the Gulf following the spill because all five species native to the region are endangered, and they are just heading into their spring nesting season.*Reuters


Hopes have risen for a critically-endangered cockatoo species on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The Environment Department says two yellow-tailed black cockatoos have been reared this year - one on a farming property, the other at a wildlife park. Ecologist Jason Van Weenen says, with only nine birds left in the wild and 14 in captivity, the program is vital to the species' survival. "The Eyre Peninsula population is unique, it is genetically diverse and ... we've been trying to keep this population persisting," he said. "The little cockatoo that's fledged this year in the wild is very significant because it's the first chick that's actually been raised on Eyre Peninsula since the Black Tuesday bushfires in 2005. "They haven't been able to successfully rear a chick for a long time so this is quite an achievement." *ABC

New owners for Warrawong

The future for native animals at controversial (they served kangaroo meat in their restuarant) Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary is safe - jointly in the hands of new owners, Zoos South Australia and the Ngarrindjeri people. Developers and feral cats and foxes can do little more than peer through the fence at the 14ha haven for 100 species founded by the man in the cat fur hat, Dr John Wamsley. Zoos SA president Heather Caddick called Warrawong "a secure refugee habitat for Australian animals in the Adelaide Hills". She said the acquisition, from private owners Anthony and Judy Miller for an undisclosed sum, ensured Warrawong would remain safe from developers. "Zoos South Australia now has three strategic sites," she said. "Adelaide Zoo, a small city zoo, Monarto in the Murraylands, the largest open-range zoo in the world, and now Warrawong, which was secured in 1986 with a feral-proof fence as a haven for our native animals." Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority executive member Tom Trevorrow said the joint venture was an "exciting" development that would provide opportunities in education and training. * Network Item

Climate Change

The world is warming too quickly for lizards to adapt, and 20 per cent of species could be extinct by 2080, a new study shows. In Australia, lizards living in the central desert areas and alpine districts are most at risk if current climate change trends continue. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, a 6 per cent decline in the world's lizard populations by 2050 is almost unavoidable, an international team of scientists has concluded. David Chapple, of Monash University, said the cold-blooded reptiles basked in the sun to warm up, but had to seek shade when they get too hot. "If it is too warm for too long, and they spend too long under the shelter, they can't be out their looking for mates and finding food." * Age Read More

Chudich Found

A rare chuditch was found in the Paganoni Swamp Reserve in Karnup last week, a short distance from a patch of bushland that has been identified for future clearing. Friends of Paganoni Swamp spokeswoman Leonie Stubbs said the discovery was proof that a proposal to rezone 48 hectares of bushland in the north-west corner of the reserve to support the proposed Karnup train station would destroy flora as well as fauna. She said it was wonderful to know that such a rare species lived locally but said it should serve as a reminder to be more cautious about clearing bushland in the metropolitan area. Staff and students from The University of Western Australia’s School of Animal Biology made the rare sighting while trapping in the reserve as part of a project to study the effectiveness of the Perth to Bunbury Highway fauna underpasses. The chuditch was captured and tagged and was released. The week-long trapping effort also resulted in the capture of several brushtail possums and quenda, or southern brown bandicoots, and a threatened brush-tailed phascogale. *

Ed Comment; For overseas readers the chuditch is otherwise known as the Western Quoll. The chuditch was previously found in 70 percent of Australia, existing in all mainland states and the Northern Territory. It is now found only in the southwest corner of Western Australia.

Biodiversity Lost

Humanity is sealing its own fate by rapidly destroying the planet's ecological diversity, the Australian Greens have warned. Their warning follows the release of a UN report which finds that far too many of the world's plants and animals - and the wild places that support them - are at risk of collapse. Frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction, coral reefs are the species deteriorating most rapidly and the survival of nearly a quarter of all plant species is threatened, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity said in a report issued every four years. Pollution, climate change, drought, deforestation, illegal poaching and overfishing are among the many culprits named. Greens leader Bob Brown said Australia was one of the many "failed" nations contributing to the problem. "It's not going to change while we have governments who don't care and governments who are making things worse," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday. "It is a prescription for our own fate if we don't stop to consider the value, of least to ourselves, of wildlife and biodiversity." Senator Brown says a crisis in Tasmania's forestry industry is an opportunity to protect forests and woodlands that are the chief stronghold of wildlife. He says the Greens also aim to strengthen the nation's biodiversity act to make it mandatory for governments to protect the habitat of rare and endangered species. * AAP

UK Bird poisonings

A horrific total of 6 eagles, 10 buzzards, 3 red kites, a Peregrine falcon and a sparrowhawk have all been poisoned in recent weeks across Ireland, England and Scotland. And these are just the ones that we know about and have been discovered. This includes 3 Eagles and 3 Red kites, 3 buzzards and a peregrine killed in Ireland in a spate of poisoning May 2010. Six buzzards and two fox cubs poisoned in Derbyshire April 2010. Three Golden eagles amongst other birds found dead in Scotland. May 2010. *Wildlife Extra


Poachers killed one of the final few Javan rhinoceros left in Vietnam, conservationists said today, calling it a major blow to attempts to save the world's rarest large mammal. The rhino was found shot dead and its horn removed late last week in Cat Tien National Park in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said. "This is devastating news for rhino conservation and Vietnam," said Dung Huynh Tien, the national policy coordinator of WWF Vietnam. Vietnam's Javan rhinos are one of only two populations of the species left on earth, the group said. "It is now uncertain how many, if any, Javan rhinos are left in Vietnam," it said. The death signals a "dire situation", according the WWF, which conducted tests on rhino dung to try to determine the population status. There are believed to be fewer than 10 left in the country. The WWF said there are no captive Javan rhinos in Vietnam, and only 40 to 60 of the animals live in a national park on the Indonesian island of Java. Rhino horn is used in traditional East Asian medicine to treat fever and high blood pressure. *

Fraser Island Dingo Rally

The Rally was awesome, 100 people marching through the streets of Brisbane escorted by two police cars, two on motorbikes and two on push bikes were so helpful, placards waving and voices chanting had quite an effect and people came out of the buildings, some even joined in, others waved and smiled. As we rounded the last corner before entering the grounds of Parliament House the powerful and haunting sounds of the didgeridoo could be heard, it hailed the start of a very successful day. Guest Speakers came from near and far and delivered a great message! Rally commenced 1030 am with a march around the streets of Brisbane. Led by the president of SFID Mal Kilpatrick holding the banner. Chants were shouted throughout the march which drew great attention from the people on the streets, who came out of their office buildings to watch. The marchers culminated in front of parliament house by the haunting sounds of didgeridoo. Sam Catalino didgeridoo player who flew in from Newcastle especially to provide entertainment for the day. *SFID

About 100 protesters have marched through Brisbane's centre calling on the State Government to record reasons for each dingo death on Fraser Island. Save Fraser Island Dingoes spokeswoman Joanne McKay said the organisation disputed government statistics that state the dogs' population on the World Heritage-listed island has risen to 240. Ms McKay told AAP the dingo population was closer to 100 and the number of dogs was dwindling because of starvation, poisoning and being shot. "What we are calling on is an open, transparent and independent body to carry out the management on Fraser Island,'' Ms McKay said. "We dispute their data. There is nothing like 240 dingoes. "They do not have the money or the funds to actually obtain accurate information.'' The march culminated in a rally outside Parliament House, with state opposition environment spokesman Glen Elmes among the 10 guest speakers. State Environment Minister Kate Jones released figures on Friday compiled by Griffith University, University of Queensland and Biosecurity scientists showing that the island's dingo population had increased by at least 40 to 240. *Courier Mail

Make a Comment; Dingoes howling, if you've never seen or heard a dingo this is "must-watch" footage. Dingoes approaching a beach walker wanting to play. A group of dingoes playing. All these dingoes in this footage above have since been killed by the Queensland Government

Flying Fox Relocation

Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett has approved, with strict conditions, the relocation of protected grey-headed flying foxes at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. “After a thorough environmental assessment the relocation can go ahead and I am confident that there will be no unacceptable impacts on protected grey-headed flying foxes,” Mr Garrett said. “I have imposed strict conditions to ensure the dispersal happens in a way that minimises impacts. “The dispersal activity must happen within a limited timeframe to avoid disrupting the camp during the sensitive breeding and roosting season. “An independent observer group and panel with expertise in animal biology and grey-headed flying foxes must oversee all aspects of the operation, and report back to my department. “The Botanic Gardens Trust will be responsible and accountable for all aspects of the relocation. This includes ensuring the colony relocates to an appropriate site. “Similarly, the trust is responsible and must be accountable for any safety risks associated with this operation and must conduct a public health risk analysis before the dispersal action can proceed. “The grey-headed flying foxes are a threatened species protected under both state and national environment law. They play a crucial role in pollination and seed dispersal in our native forests. Protecting this species is therefore very important to our biodiversity,” Mr Garrett said. *SMH

Animal welfare activists are warning inner Sydney residents they are about to be driven batty by flying foxes evicted from the Royal Botanic Gardens. Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has given his approval for the Botanic Gardens Trust to evict a colony of up to 22,000 threatened grey-headed flying foxes, which have killed 18 mature trees and threaten 300 more. The trust will blast the bats with loud industrial noise, such as motors and banging, following the success Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens using the same method. Mr Garrett's approval comes with strict conditions, including supervision by an independent observer group with expertise in animal biology and grey-headed flying foxes. The operation can be carried out only outside the flying fox breeding season, and the trust must make sure the colony relocates to an appropriate site.

But animal welfare groups the Humane Society International and Bat Advocacy NSW say the planned method is cruel and the threatened species will be denied a rare sanctuary for feeding and roosting. Bat advocacy spokesman Nick Edards said there was a risk the flying foxes would join other colonies, or "camps", in neighbourhoods such as Kareela and Wolli Creek in Sydney's south, where residents are already annoyed with the animals. "We are very concerned that bats dispersed from the gardens may set up camps in the backyards of eastern suburbs residents or will attempt to join camps which are already a source of conflict with residents," he said. The Botanic Gardens Trust has already tried deterring the flying foxes with everything from strobe lights to shrimp paste and bags of python poo.

The trust's executive director Dr Tim Entwisle said it was hoped the animals would relocate well away from home, either in a national park, or on a reserve at Gordon, in the city's north. The trust expected to spend about $500,000 on the project - raised from savings and donations - and believes it will be the largest program ever monitoring the species. "My view is that even one of our 150-year-old trees is worth that," Dr Entwisle said. "These trees that are being killed have enormous heritage and environmental importance." The trust plans to play noise at 10-minute intervals from noon each day, and expects the bats will leave within two weeks. Dr Entwisle said the method had proven safe in Melbourne and hoped visitors would be understanding. "It will be an annoyance," he said. "But I think our three and a half million visitors each year will appreciate this is for the long-term survival of the gardens." Grey-headed flying-foxes are listed as threatened under federal and state environmental laws, and play a crucial role in pollination and seed dispersal in native forests. *AAP

Ed comment; This is a very disappointing decision. We have read the "conditions" and they are very strict, and it will cost a lot of money to implement. It cost over 3 million dollars to relocate the Melbourne Botanic Gardens flying foxes. The Gardens Trust claimed it was a "successful" relocation, but it depends how you qualify success. It wasnt very succesfull for the flying foxes. As the Sydney Botanic Gardens is owned jointly by the Sydney City Council and NSW Parks and Wildlife, the relocation costs will be high too, much higher than the $500,000 quoted, and that will mean funds will be diverted from other more realisitc and deserving conservation outcomes. It will cost far more than the "Friends of the SBG Gardens" can raise with a few chook raffles. Garret has let down wildlife yet again.

National Parks

One of Australia's largest national parks will be renamed after it was officially handed back to its "rightful owners" during a ceremony yesterday. Traditional owners of the Victoria River region decided the Gregory National Park will soon be called Jutpurra Park. Hundreds of people gathered at the park's Jasper Gorge - about 350km south of Darwin - to celebrate the occasion. The new agreement will see Aboriginal people working with the NT Government to maintain the park. Traditional owner Larry Johns, who celebrated his 65th birthday yesterday, said it was an important day for the people of the region. "The men and women here are the rightful owners of this place," he said. "It's a very important place for the people - it's like the capital of the Victoria River region, like Canberra is the capital of Australia."

Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce and federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin welcomed the handover of the 1.3 million hectare park. The land was given back under the condition traditional owners would sign a 99-year lease with the Territory Government. It is hoped to see more Aboriginal rangers, eco-tourism and other job opportunities for local residents. The move has seen widespread opposition among the general public, fearing the park would no longer be open for visitors. Northern Land Council chief executive Kim Hill said discussions to hand over the park's land started more than seven years ago. "It was a very complex negotiation but today it is for the benefit for the Aboriginal people," he said. For Mr Johns, it is his "last shot" to ensure a better future for the next generation. "They need to learn white man's way and learn numeracy and literacy and get the park uniform," he said. "It's going to be a big challenge." *NT News


A deadly fungus infection that was threatening Tasmania's platypus population appears to be subsiding. In the mid 1990s it was discovered that a third of the state's platypus population was suffering from a fungus called mucormycosis that causes large ulcers to form on their back legs and tail. Fears that it could have a devastating effect similar to Tassie devil facial cancer prompted the most comprehensive study ever done on the animal. For two years two dedicated field officers spent chilly nights wading in rivers around the state to trap close to 200 platypuses, racking up 10,000 hours of netting time. Their results, released yesterday, show that the number of infected animals has reduced to 7 per cent. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment platypus conservation project leader Nick Gust said the results were good news.

He estimated that there were tens of thousands of platypuses in rivers around the state and most appeared to be in good health. "Platypuses are actually much more plentiful than a lot of people realise," he said. "We actually found one in the Hobart Rivulet near the Royal Hobart Hospital a couple of weeks ago, so it was right in the heart of the CBD." But it was important to take steps to ensure that they continued to thrive. The Tasmanian Platypus Management Plan released yesterday identifies a range of ways for people to help preserve the platypus. Dogs kill a large number of platypuses so owners should ensure their animals are restrained near waterways. Anyone who sees a platypus with an ulcer-like wound is requested to report the location to DPIPWE. And anyone who sees a platypus that has been killed on the road is requested to report its location to help prevent other platypuses suffering the same fate. "Often platypuses will leave the water and go onto roads when they are unable to navigate their way through a culvert," Mr Gust said. "If we know where the culverts are then we can make alterations to them so that the platypuses can get through them." *Mercury


Most recent arrivals to the Clarence Valley, and even many long-term residents, will be unaware of the presence of rufous bettongs, which inhabit certain areas of remaining natural bushland across the Valley. Dubbed the rat kangaroo by early settlers, a bettong is in fact considerably larger than a rat but is also very much smaller than other macropod species, kangaroos, wallaroos and wallabies. About the size of a possum or bandicoot, these little fellows bound on strong hind legs in the way of kangaroos, while their swift agility and erratic leaping when startled helps them to successfully evade surprised predators. Although sturdy and quite easily raised when taken into care by wildlife groups, the rufous bettong is a threatened species, listed as vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act. As with most threatened wildlife, loss of habitat is the chief cause of this species being pushed to the edge in the Clarence Valley. So if one evening you should chance to see what looks like a stocky little kangaroo with a round blunt nose, standing upright on its hind-legs in the middle of the road, stop and enjoy it, because not everyone is privileged to see one. Then make sure you take careful note of the precise place you see him, and pass this location information on to the Clarence Valley branch of WIRES for lodgement with the NSW Wildlife Atlas. Not everyone is privileged to see one. *Daily Examiner

ADI Site

Wild kangaroos at Cranebrook are a thing of the past, with the last remaining troop at the ADI site moved on to make way for development. While residents are still reeling from the moonscape left behind when bulldozers started clearing the site, the risk to the delicate eco-system is yet to sink in. Western Sydney Conservation Alliance president Geoff Brown said the area was going to see a lot of displaced fauna after the clearing of land. ``Every tree that is removed is devastating for the wildlife ,'' he said. ``We've got to look at smaller animals like insects and beetles as well. ``It's all part of the food chain, and once the collapse happens, that's when the humans are affected. People think we're somehow disconnected from nature and I don't believe that to be the case.''

Mr Brown said when people thought of animals they thought more about kangaroos and emus. He said the kangaroos had been moved on, with eastern grey females sterilised. ``It's likely kangaroos as we've known them for many years are going to go down in history as a distant memory,'' he said. ``Where they're clearing now is where you could see kangaroos and emus when going past content, happy and in a natural environment, and that's what a lot of people are very upset about.'' When Cumberland Courier Newspapers photographer Armen Deushian flew over the site in a helicopter looking for animals recently, none was found. Mr Brown said Delfin Lend Lease's proposal of a 900ha regional park was not enough.

``It's actually five regional parks fragmented by roads. It's compromised it's a lousy conservation outcome,'' he said. ``We've consistently argued it should be bigger and roads need to be removed.'' In response to Mr Brown's comments in Friday's Press that Federal Environment Protection Minister Peter Garrett had ``turned his back'' on Penrith and the ADI site, Mr Garrett said the Government would continue to take action to protect it but there was no legal basis on which he could step in to stop the development. *Penrith Press

Ed Comment; For those who dont know about the Sydney ADI site, it was owned by the Commonwealth and used by the Defence Force. It was sold by the Howard Government to Dolphin Lend Lease and mostly cleared for housing. Community groups fought long and hard for it to be retained as a Conservation Site and Parklands, without success, except for a small corner of 900 hectares. The kangaroos were killed and/or relocated in a horrific relocation program.

More New Species Researchers have uncovered a clutch of previously unknown species living in a remote area of West Papua often referred to as "the lost world". In the United Nation's international year of biodiversity, the group's announcement includes a unique tree frog with a Pinocchio-like nose. Paul Oliver, the Australian researcher who first saw it, said the frog had an erectile nose. "When they're excited, it does go up," he said. "The fact that the males have a bigger one suggests it's something to do with sexual selection, so females could be impressed by males with a long nose." Although there have been reports of a similar frog a few hundred kilometres away, Mr Oliver said: "At a minimum it's a completely new spot for this species and at best it's a new species."

In the dense forest around the Foja Mountains in the Indonesian province of West Papua the researchers from Conservation International and National Geographic also found an oversized, rather tame woolly rat, an imperial pigeon with rust, grey and white plumage, and a bent-toed gecko with striking yellow eyes. The 25-centimetre gecko, which boasts claws rather than pads on the tips of its toes, and the pigeon, are also new species. The team identified a black forest wallaby in the mountains. Measuring just 30 centimetres in height, it is the smallest member of the kangaroo family documented in the world. The international team dropped in to the remote area by helicopter and spent three weeks in the forest tracking species from the low foothills near Kwerba village to the top of the 2200-metre mountain range as part of a program to assess the area's biodiversity.

Mr Oliver, a PhD candidate from Adelaide University's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum, said the area had a richly diverse ecosystem. "It's an incredible area for biodiversity research, it's one of the frontiers," he said. "We were the first group of Western scientists to ever go to the top of the Fojas. "It's exciting to think that there are still a few areas left where there are things that have never been seen. There are birds on those mountains that have really only been seen by 50 people on the entire planet, which is really special." Mr Oliver said there were many benefits to be had from conducting a scientific stocktake. "Most of these species exist on the tops of mountains and if in 50 years time the habitat changes [because of climate change] we should know the climatic tolerance these species have," he said. The findings, the result of fieldwork undertaken in late 2008, were completed with backing from the Indonesian Institute of Science, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Geographic Society. The expedition's work will feature in next month's National Geographic magazine. *Age

Preston Beach Kangaroos

Preston Beach residents believe the Shire of Waroona allowed a shooter hired to cull western grey kangaroos on its golf course to carry out the controversial slaughter in the adjacent Yalgorup National Park last Wednesday night. Resident Carlene Smith found the body of a decapitated juvenile kangaroo in the national park early the following morning, along with tyre tracks and several pools of blood. An inspection later found the kangaroo’s body and blood covered over with sand. The joey’s head remains missing. Another local resident took photos of the ill-fated joey before emailing them to the Times. They were all too graphic for publication but the photo accompanying this article clearly shows tyre tracks on national park land.

Volunteer wildlife carer Gina Hartnett found another juvenile roo with a badly injured leg on a track next to Lake Preston early on the same morning. It had to be put down by a Halls Head vet later that day because of severe fractures and open wounds to one of its legs. Shire CEO Ian Curley confirmed that 60 roos were culled between 6.45 and 9.15pm last Wednesday in accordance with a licence issued by the Department of Conservation and Environment. The licence gave the Shire permission to cull 100 roos but Mr Curley said no more culls would take place despite the solo shooter being unable to achieve the desired target before the DEC’s 10.30pm cut off. A DEC spokeswoman said the Shire told the department that shooting ceased when residents gained access to the golf course and disrupted the cull. *My Community Make a comment....

Four kangaroos were either killed or injured so badly they had to be euthanised after being attacked by two dogs that burrowed into Big Swamp Wildlife Park last Sunday. The City of Bunbury (WA) has impounded the dogs and is investigating the attack with no charges laid. A fine of up to $10,000 can be handed out to the owner of dogs which injure a person or animal. City of Bunbury chief executive officer Greg Trevaskis said the deaths of the hand-raised kangaroos were very distressing for park staff and the public. “Big Swamp Wildlife Park staff first noticed the dogs chasing ducks along the Five Mile Brook and reported them,” Mr Trevaskis said. “Although our rangers arrived quickly, it was too late to save the kangaroos.” Mr Trevaskis warned all dog owners to be responsible for their dogs or risk prosecution. “We will not hesitate to prosecute owners where their dog is found to have caused injury to people or wildlife,” he said. “Things can be so easily avoided by owners taking responsibility for the care and containment of their dogs.” *Bunbury Mail

Around 10,000 kangaroos have invaded a small national park near Loxton and may have to be shot or starved out. The Department of Environment and Heritage has warned locals a culling campaign could soon begin after surveys showed numbers at the Murray River National Park near Loxton had tripled to 80 animals per square kilometre. The current population would mean the equivalent of 200 animals in an area the size of the Adelaide CBD. The decision has been welcomed by locals who told The Advertiser that despite being listed as a tourist attraction in the park, the grey and red kangaroos are starving and destroying plant life. Former chairman of the Katarapko Community Action Group Sandy Loffler said the organisation had lobbied the department for eight years between 1996 and 2004 for a cull to save bettongs which had been reintroduced to the Katarapko Island within the park. Ms Loffler said the cull would be long overdue.

"The place has been so decimated and destroyed by years and years of overgrazing by kangaroos and it was even when the numbers were 55 animals per square kilometres," she said. "This is gut wrenching because we tried hard to get them to do something." Ms Loffler said wildflowers in the park had been almost destroyed and kangaroos had resorted to digging up grass roots to survive. "There were (kangaroo) skeletons everywhere," she said. "The department said the problem was just seasonal but obviously the numbers have been getting worse and worse and worse." Adelaide University researcher Nerissa Haby, who worked to reintroduce the bettongs until 2002, said kangaroos were already starving when her work there ended. At the time, numbers were only 40 animals per square kilometre, half the current levels. "By the time I finished, there were animals starving and dying and eating people's food," she said.

Interested community groups have been asked to comment on the department's changes to the national park's development plan. "Such programs (population control of kangaroos) may include a variety of management options, including restricting access to food and water, and culling," the draft states. The Australian Society for Kangaroos is challenging reports that kangaroo numbers are unsustainable at the Murray River National Park and that they are starving and responsible for loss of fauna and flora. "Claims by Sandy Lofftier, former chair of a local environment group that kangaroo densities in the park are "getting worse and worse" are misleading and bias with current densities within the park (80 per sq km) actually representing low densities in scientific terms. Scientists (Dunn, 2002) refer to one sheep per hectare (100 sheep/300 kangaroos per sq km) as very light grazing in conservation terms for the preservation of native grasslands. Densities within this park of just 80 kangaroos sq km (0.8 kangaroos per hectare) is almost neglible in terms of grazing pressure", said Nikki Sutterby, Australian Society for Kangaroos.

"Reports of starvation that have also been alleged appear to be from eight years ago during the worst drought in a century. This cannot be used as evidence to support a cull now, eight years on. Kangaroos naturally rise and fall in response to environmental conditions (boom and bust cycle), and this is typical of what we are seeing here where numbers fell during the drought (2001) and then increased and plateaued in 2008. From what I have been informed by local rangers, recent counts show the population has not changed since 2008". "Claims by Ms Loffier that kangaroos are destroying flora and fauna in the park has not been researched or reported by the Department of Environment and Heritage in their recent management plan and I would be interested in seeing any credible research from Ms Loffier to support this".

"What has been reported by the DEH in their management plan is that there are ''significant overriding factors affecting the regeneration of the park' including massive weed infestations, severe environmental imbalances caused by salinity, reduced water flow due to large scale diversions and 30 barriers to channels and creeks, aquatic anoxia and cynobacteria, loss of habitat, loss of diversity, etc etc". "I would imagine these 'significant overriding factors' to be more relevant than relatively low densities of a native herbivore. In fact kangaroos and their own intrinsic ability to regenerate native grasses and flora may be the only saving grace for this park in the absence of a committed programme by the department and interest groups to restore the park to its former state", stated Ms Sutterby. "

According to the ABC and other media however, DEH has stated that a cull is not, and has never been planned for the Murray River National Park, and the numbers are sustainable in the Park.

Kangaroos and their joeys are being run over by motorbikes and their carcasses are being taken away for dog meat, a senior wildlife officer claims. The kangaroos have been inhabiting the Golden Vale Golf Club at Benalla with the attacks happening over the past three weeks. Department of Sustainability and Environment senior wildlife officer Leigh Murray said the incidents involved youngsters on motorbikes harassing kangaroos and forcing their joeys out. “We understand that in some cases motorbikes have been used to chase down the kangaroos prior to their death,” Mr Murray said. “We are also investigating allegations that the carcasses were then removed and used to feed domestic animals. “I would like to make it perfectly clear that these allegations are extremely serious and we are working closely with police and the community to gather additional information.”

Mr Murray warned that the offenders could be fined up to $5000. “We would look at them for aggravated cruelty if they are running them down and running them over with motor­bikes,” Mr Murray said. “The allegation is they’re taking them home for dog meat but we can’t find out who they are.” Graeme Harper said the kangaroos had been a pest at the 18-hole sandscrape course for some time but he did not believe his members would be involved in such cruel behaviour. “I know a lot of people are getting sick of them but there’s not much you can do,” Mr Harper said. “They’re pretty well protected, it’s just part and parcel of having them out there.”

Meanwhile, the DSE is investigating the death of seven white-winged choughs on a property in the Whorouly area. The native birds were found to have been shot. “This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable,” Mr Murray said. “The birds are not destructive and a check of DSE records back to 2002 show that no control permits have been issued for this species.” Information about both incidents can be phoned into the DSE on 136 186. *Border Mail

Kangaroos facing culling for pet food can be penned, tranquillised and moved from Preston Beach, a Mandurah-based 15-year veteran of relocating urban fringe wildlife says. But the $50,000 to $110,000 cost of shifting the 100 kangaroos from the coastal village’s golf course and gardens is an issue for culling proponent the Shire of Waroona. Preston Beach wildlife carer and kangaroo trapper John Smith says neither shooting or moving the animals are solutions for the village, with about 140 full-time residents, 40km south of Mandurah. Mr Smith attracts kangaroo mobs to his 10m2 soft wire net pens with high quality feed. “When they’re ready we come in and grab ’em, give them a needle, and when they wake up they’re in new bush,” he said. It could cost about $500 to move each kangaroo if Preston Beach’s mobs have quiet enough temperaments. Wilder kangaroos would cost about $1100 a head to shift after penning, Mr Smith said. Last month, The Mandurah Coastal Times was able to walk within 15 metres of the kangaroos on vacant Preston Beach blocks.

Under CALM direction in the past 15 years, Mr Smith has relocated about 3000 Peel Region kangaroos for developers, Alcoa and other golf courses. He is currently moving Port Kennedy and Meadow Springs kangaroos from Mandurah’s northern belt. At Preston Beach, the animals damage the course and are becoming a greater traffic and public hazard, cull proponents say. (‘Concern over roo-cull plan at Preston Beach’, Mandurah Coastal Times, August 19). But the residents are torn between the course and garden grazing damage, the traffic danger, and the aesthetics of the having homes so close to the animals, which many consider pets, attracting tourists.Mr Smith said with enough staff he could tranquillise the quiet animals in the open, while catching wilder kangaroos can take up to six weeks as they become familiar with entering the pen for feed, after which its door is secured, preventing exit.

Men in protective clothing catch the kangaroos, tranquillising the larger animals, and unsedated joeys are put in bags colour-coded to their mothers. “The boomers (mature males) are the easiest to catch as they are old,” Mr Smith said. “The worst ones are the little ones which are flying about, bouncing a metre in the air. They’re like 10-year-old children.” Previous relocations have shown moved mobs do not return, he said. Shire of Waroona chief executive officer Ian Curley said he would be interested hearing from Mr Smith about relocation, but the shire also had to deal with untamed, large male kangaroos at Preston Beach. “And at $500 a head that’s $50,000 to remove. I don’t think the council would be interested in that, ” he said. Cull proponents have argued that an alleged attack by large boomer on a woman in Preston Beach indicates a public safety threat. It is understood the Department of Conservation has considered the shire’s July cull request and Waroona councillors may decide on the proposal at next month’s meeting. *InmyCommunity

Fraser Island Dingoes

Recently Wildlife Bytes ran the story about Jennifer Parkhurst, the photographer who had her house invaded by DERM thugs early one morning last year. Jennifer now faces a maximum two years' jail or up to a $300,000 fine under the Nature Conservation Act and Recreation Area Management Act, for allegedly interfering with the Fraser Island dingoes. The real reasons for the raid were that, like many others, Jennifer has been highly critical of the Fraser Island dingo mis-management strategies. Anyway, a rally or two are being planned, and Fund has been set up to help Jennifer and the dingoes. People can contribute to the fund at Westpac Bank, Pialba, Hervey Bay. Save Fraser island Dingoes Inc. BSB 034-136 Acct 303196.

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!