Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 14/7/10

Wildlife MiniBytes

From the Editor;

We are still having some troubles with our IT servers, last week we noted that links in Wildlife Bytes only work if cut and pasted into your browser. We are working on fixing this.

Fraser Island Dingoes

Save the Fraser Island Dingoes organisation is having a Dingo Charity dinner at Hervey Bay on the 4th September, at the Hervey Bay RSL Function room. For Reservations phone 41241979, great guest artists, including Keri McInerney, Stevie T, Riverhead with special guest Mark Nuske, k'gari performers and more! Tickets are $50 each or $90 for a couple.

Meanwhile a couple of months ago we wrote a long letter to Opposition Environment spokesperson Greg Hunt, about the sad State of Fraser Island, and expressing concern about the mangement of this World Heritage Area, and particullarly of the dingoes. He sent our letter to Peter Garrett, and we recently received a reply from Garret's Department, stating the Island was being managed well, and there was nothing wrong with the Fraser Island dingoes. It appears that the Federal Labor Government also supports the starving of the Fraser Island dingoes. *WPAA


A man from New Zealand is recovering from surgery after being shot in the buttock by his dog. The animal is believed to have stood on the trigger of a .22 bolt-action rifle in a freak accident, reports the Telegraph. The dog's owner was getting into the back seat of a four-wheel drive vehicle with the rifle alongside him when the animal jumped in. The 40-year-old was among a group of four people who had slaughtered a pig at Te Kopuru, 90 miles northwest of Auckland. They told the police that they thought the gun was unloaded, but it had contained five shells. The victim was airlifted by rescue helicopter to Whangarei Hospital where surgeons removed the bullet and he is now in a stable condition. Mark Going, a St John Ambulance manager, said paramedics who attended were told the rifle had been fired through the seat, lodging a bullet in the man's left buttock. *

Mangroves Destroyed

The Queensland Government has allowed one thousand hectares of mangroves to be removed or trimmed in a new highrise development on the Brisbane River, to allow coffee shop drinkers to have a view of the river. 585sq m of mangroves would be removed and a further 506sq m trimmed. The Government plans to replant some more mangroves further down the river as an "offset". But obviously, if the new area doesnt have mangroves now, that area doesnt suit them anyway. Most people are outraged, mangroves are protected, but if you are a developer, with a "mate" in the Government, or need space for a harbor development, anything goes in Queensland. *WPAA


As the cold weather settles in, little pardalotes in Fairfield are digging their homes for winter. The tiny birds can be found in gardens, along roadsides or in parks and golf courses, excavating their nests out of soft, sandy soil. Australia's Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife 's Backyard Buddies program encouraged residents to make their backyards a haven for native animals like the pardalotes, CEO Leonie Gale said. `While most birds nest high above the ground in the branches of trees, these cheeky little locals prefer to go subterranean,'' she said. ``Pardalotes spend most of their time feeding in the canopies of tall eucalypts, making them difficult to see. Right now, as they are nesting, they become quite oblivious to our presence, making it an excellent time of year to watch their antics.'' Pardalotes form pairs or small groups of up to six birds during breeding season. The birds carefully select soft strands of grass to line their dug out burrows, which can reach up to 60cm long. *Fairfield Advance

China Fish Kill

China's Fujian province will take legal action against government officials and executives of Zijin Mining Group Co., the country's largest gold producer, accountable for a toxic leak from a copper mine, state-run Xinhua News Agency said. Police detained three Zijin managers on July 15 after waste water from the plant poisoned 1,890 tons of fish at a waterway near Shanghang county, home to half a million people. County chief Qiu Heqing and top environmental official Chen Junan were fired and two other officials were ordered to resign, Xinhua report yesterday. Operations at the copper plant must remain halted until it meets safety and waste-management standards, Xinhua reported today, citing a ruling by provincial officials yesterday.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/07/17/bloomberg1376-L5OX961A74E901-2O8H45LB78BGCMVVJPGUBQ44CP.DTL#ixzz0uA53KUjP

Green Politics

The Australian Greens have confirmed they have reached agreement with Labor over preferences for the August 21 federal election. Details of the deal will be announced later on Monday, just a day after Greens leader Bob Brown admitted he was "at odds" with his own party over preference negotiations. Senator Brown on Sunday refused to say whether the Greens would direct preferences to Labor in lower house seats, just as the minor party did at the 2007 election. Under the deal, the Greens will direct preferences to Labor in lower house contests in return for receiving Labor in the upper house race, paving the way for the minor party to hold the balance of power in the Senate in its own right from July 1, 2011. Of course, noone can tell voters where to place their preference vote, the concept of preference vote is that you say ..."okay, if I cant have THAT person, I'll have THIS person. Its all up to the voter, but many voters don't know that, and will blindly follow what the Party they are voting for recommends. Its all about political wheeling and dealing. As Bob Brown said himself, it's a rotten system, but its all we have! * WPAA

Noxious Fish Found

Two Adelaide men have been fined but not convicted for illegally keeping banned fish at an aquaculture business at West Beach. Adelaide Magistrates Court was told almost 6,000 koi carp were found at the barramundi hatchery when Primary Industries officers searched the business in February 2008. The ornamental fish are directly related to european carp and are outlawed in South Australia despite being legal in some other states. The defence said employee Jared William Nichol, 22, started out with 20 fish in 2003 but they bred and five years later he moved them to the hatchery with the approval of his boss, Andre Perez. The court heard Nichol tried to get a permit from the Primary Industries department but never heard back. The two men were fined $12,000 each after pleading guilty to breaching fish management laws. *ABC


Platypus spotters are reporting an increase in sightings in the Yarra River. The Australian Platypus Conservancy Yarra platypus monitoring program's latest results report that platypus sightings have risen by almost 90 per cent in the past year in one area of the Yarra. Australian Platypus Conservancy biologist Geoff Williams said the result was pleasing, but there was still room for improvement. ``The numbers are still capable of being improved,'' Mr Williams said. ``Last year was probably a tough one for platypuses, with very low water flows occurring along the Yarra for much of that period. Consequently, we suspect that the population shrank a bit, particularly in the lower parts of the river. ``The numbers have been strengthened this year with better river flows; there has been a bit of rain and a bit more water has been released from the upper Yarra River.'' Mr Williams said this was the second year the conservancy had switched to community-based visual survey techniques rather than live trapping to gauge population numbers. ``The platypus count has made it possible to collect reliable information about this population for the first time,'' he said. Mr Williams said the conservancy needed more volunteers to help spot platypuses. ``Many people walk, jog, cycle or fish along the Yarra on a fairly frequent basis. We are hoping that some of them will be prepared to scan for platypus,'' he said. Stonington Leader

A platypus was rescued after being trapped in a holding tank for several hours at the Penrith sewage treatment plant yesterday. A contractor working at the plant noticed the animal about 9am and informed the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES). It dispatched a rescue team to the Sydney Water site on Castlereagh Rd. WIRES volunteers worked alongside National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to take the animal to safety. `It is very rare to have a platypus in Penrith,'' a WIRES spokeswoman said. `We don't know how it ended up in the area or where it has come from. ``There are a few of them in the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast.'' A Sydney Water spokesman said this was the first time they'd had a platypus in the sewage plant. ``The platypus will be released to its natural environment once they determine it is fine,'' he said. *Penrith Press

Endandgered Species Rescued

Malaysian officials have seized hundreds of endangered radiated tortoises, tomato frogs and chameleons days after a major wildlife bust of thousands of rare birds. Customs officials at the Kuala Lumpur international airport found the wildlife in the hand luggage of two women from Madagascar, the Star daily reported. Wildlife and National Parks department head Abdul Rasid Samsuddin told the paper they found 369 radiated tortoises, five Madagascar tortoises, 47 tomato frogs and several chameleons. "The tortoises were bound with masking tape to prevent them from moving, while the chameleons were stuffed into socks to prevent detection," he told the Star, adding that the animals were worth 250,000 ringgit (about $89,600). Malaysian police stumbled across a massive haul of endangered wildlife, including a pair of valuable birds of paradise, as they raided a warehouse of stolen cars on Wednesday. More than 20 protected species were found in the "mini zoo" in the capital's suburbs. * AFP

Abbott's Booby Protected

The Federal Government has knocked back an application to expand mining on Christmas Island for a second time. Phosphate Resources applied three years ago to clear more than 250 hectares of rainforest in order to access fresh deposits. Environment Minister Peter Garrett says he has refused the application because it would have had an unacceptable impact on threatened native species and migratory birds. Mr Garrett said species such as the Christmas Island hawk-owl and the abbott's booby are already under threat due to development on the island. Former environment minister Malcolm Turnbull made the same ruling three years ago, but his decision was overturned by the Federal Court because of administrative mistakes. *ABC

Snail Race

"Ready, steady, slow!" - Sidney the snail stormed to victory at the World Snail Racing Championship in Norfolk. He beat off stiff competition over the 13-inch course to win a silver tankard stuffed with lettuce. The event at Congham near King's Lynn has been running for nearly 40 years, and although there are a number of imitations it's the only recognised World Championship. This year's winner belongs to 62-year-old Claire Lawrence, from Litcham in Norfolk, and crossed the line in three minutes 41 seconds. "I'm shell shocked my mum has won, as it's the first time she has entered," her son Harry Lawrence told Rex. "She selected Sidney a couple of days ago and she has been training him in our garden and feeding him on a diet of rocket salad."The world record stands at two minutes and was set by a snail called Archie in 1995. Unfortunately this year's windy conditions meant times were much slower than usual. *

Monkey Thief Caught

An 18-year-old Baulkham Hills man was charged on Thursday with stealing eight monkeys from a wildlife park last month. Four cotton-top tamarins (two pictured) and four pygmy marmoset monkeys were stolen from the Symbio Wildlife Park at Helensburgh sometime early on May 30. Two days later, police recovered three of the tamarins in a cage dumped in an Auburn park. On June 2, the four marmosets were also recovered after being left in the care of an Auburn veterinary clinic. Investigations into the whereabouts of the remaining tamarin are continuing. Police from Wollongong arrested a 17-year-old youth at Parramatta on Thursday. He was issued with a youth caution for being an accessory before the fact to a serious indictable offence. Officers arrested the 18-year-old in Baulkham Hills a short time later. He was taken to the Castle Hill police station where he was charged with concealing a serious indictable offence, receiving stolen property and disposing of stolen property. The charges relate to a period between 4.30pm on May 30 and 8.20am on June 2 He was granted conditional bail and ordered to appear before the Parramatta Court on August 6. *Hills Shire Times


Crocodiles and 'gators

A Irish backpacker drowned in a crocodile infested billabong in Kakadu National Park on Saturday night - and he wasn't drunk. The 27-year-old man was on a tour with 20 other backpackers when he decided to go for a swim in a billabong near the Kakadu Highway at 7pm on Saturday, police said. The alarm was raised when he failed to surface. Police and park rangers found his body just after 10pm in two metres of water. Police spokeswoman Theresa Kuilboer said she was "sorry to ruin a great NT News front page story" but no bite wounds had been found on the man’s body and there were no indications of a crocodile being involved in the man’s death. But saltwater crocodiles were known to inhabit the area of Malanbanjbanjdju Billabong, Ms Kuilboer said. "There were no signs of a crocodile being involved — he got into trouble and didn’t surface," she said. "But when there are croc signs up, people shouldn’t go for a swim in the first place, and when you're not a good swimmer you should only swim in a safe place." Police said they did not believe the man was drunk when he went for a swim in the billabong, 16km from the Arnhem Highway and Kakadu Highway intersection. He is believed to have been the only one of the group to go swimming. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. *

Meanwhile in Florida, one week after an alligator bit off the left hand of a Golden Gate Estates man, a few locals still visited the swimming hole, known as the Crystal, where the attack occurred. They all insisted the swimming hole will continue to be a popular destination. “As long as I am around, I am going to be coming here,” said one. * Ed Comment; They wont learn will they?

A 4.1 metre saltwater crocodile has been removed from a trap in Darwin Harbour - the largest croc removed from the harbour region this year. The crocodile was caught in a permanent trap set up in Blessers Creek, behind the East Arm Wharf. "This is another reminder to people to be extremely cautious about any waterways in the Top End, because estuarine crocodiles can move around throughout the year," Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Robbie Risk said. A 2.1 metre saltie was also caught today in a trap in the Katherine River at Taylors Park, west of Katherine. In total, 161 saltwater crocodiles have been caught in the Top End this year. *ABC

A fisherman used a flare to alert rescuers to his broken-down boat after spending three nights stranded in a crocodile-infested river near Weipa. The man, who was on a camping trip with his partner, was found about 10am yesterday at the mouth of Pine River Bay, northwest of Weipa. *Cairns Post


Noxious Weed Found

Hardware retailer Bunnings has been fined $15,000 without conviction after it was caught selling a noxious weed in its Victorian stores. Bunnings and four suppliers - Ball Australia, Oasis Horticulture, Summerhill Nurseries and Regal Blooms - all pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to charges of buying and selling the weed, Mexican feather grass. The offences took place between January and May 2008. The grass is a state-prohibited weed, the highest category for noxious weeds under Victoria's Catchment and Land Protection Act. The agriculture department was also awarded costs in the case. As part of an out-of-court settlement with the department, Bunnings has agreed to pay $50,000 in compensation and has taken steps to ensure it never again sells noxious weeds. Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said the prosecutions were a warning to the garden and nursery industry. ''While the vast bulk of the industry do a fantastic job and is aware of its responsibilities, this prosecution is a timely reminder of the risks associated with the importation and distribution of non-native horticultural plants,'' Mr Helper said. ''It's up to the nursery industry to stop this happening again.'' The department's director for invasive plants and operations, Brendan Roughead, said estimates suggested the economic and environmental impact of a statewide outbreak of a noxious weed such as Mexican feather grass could cost the state more than $10 million a year to control. Anyone who may have bought the weed, which might have been labelled Stipa capillata or Stipa lessingiana, should phone 136 186. A spokeswoman for Bunnings could not immediately be contacted. *Age

One of the most invasive weeds in Australia is threatening wildlife and plants in the Top End. Olive hymenachne is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, its potential for spread and its economic and environmental impacts. NT Parks and Wildlife rangers and members of the Field and Game Association have now joined forces to fight the weed that threatens the wetlands around Harrison Dam, about 60km southeast of Darwin. ``If it continued to spread, the area wouldn't be a viable wetland for waterbirds any more,'' NT Field and Game president Bart Irwin said. Mr Irwin, 48, of Howard Springs, said the weed would totally exclude all birds from access to the water. ``It already covers up a big area of water and blankets all the area around the Window to the Wetlands,'' he said. ``Only a few open water areas are left for birds.'' Hymenachne, a stock pasture grass ``gone wrong'', first escaped in the 1990s from a research farm. Its sticky seeds are transported by flooding and birds and have a 98 per cent viability, making the grass a dangerous threat for flora and fauna. ``It needs constant attention, as all weeds do, and due to the enormity of the job Field and Game has made an effort in assisting Parks and Wildlife with the hands-on work, as well as with organisational aspects and through a grant system assisting with funding,'' Mr Irwin said. With a helicopter and an air boat the first joint forces spraying recently took place at Harrison Dam. * NT News

Ed Comment; Hymenachne was illegally imported and deliberately released in Queensland by the Queensland DPI in the late "80's as a cattle fodder for use in ponded pastures, and has now spread throughout tropical Australia. It grows along creekbanks and in shallow water, and displaces all native vegetation, which impacts on native wildlife. It's a tall, dense, impenetrable and invasive plant that has done much damage to wildlife habitat. Its almost impossible to remove, without heavy chemical spraying, which of course impacts on frogs and other species. *


Morriset Kangaroo Kill Mooted

Kangaroos may have to be culled at Morisset amid rising fears for public safety, with the animals said to be increasing at an unsustainable rate. Residents have concerns about people getting too close to kangaroos in and around the grounds of Morisset Hospital, where hundreds of the animals dwell. Wildlife experts conceded a cull would have to occur some time to rein in numbers. With kangaroos going further into nearby residential areas than ever before, authorities have urged the public to stop feeding them. Native Animal Trust Fund carer Margaret Howley said her organisation discussed a cull with state authorities after a four-wheel-drive mowed down and killed eight kangaroos at the hospital in 2008. ‘‘A cull will have to happen in the future,’’ Mrs Howley said. ‘No one is getting hurt and they’re not attacking people, but if that started to happen they would get moving on a cull.’’

They venture between the hospital, the adjacent Lake Macquarie State Recreation Area and nearby houses. Morisset Park resident Steve Mason said kangaroo numbers had increased significantly in 40 years. Mr Mason said residents loved the kangaroos and most did not mind them being in and around their properties. ‘‘They’re superb, they eat grass in my backyard,’’ Mr Mason said. ‘‘But from a conservation point of view, they will have to do something about it at some point.’’ Resident Gayle Hamilton said tourists, including children, were feeding the animals as if they were pets. ‘‘A big grey could seriously injure somebody with one kick,’’ Mrs Hamilton said. A National Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said it had advised the hospital on how to make the site less appealing to kangaroos. ‘‘Any culled or relocated animals would be very quickly replaced by more animals because of the ideal conditions of the area for kangaroos,’’ she said.

Hunter New England Health director of mental health, Dinesh Arya, said the department wanted Morisset Hospital to be open to the community. ‘We want people to enjoy the great environment, but we don’t want them to put themselves or anyone else at risk,’’ Dr Arya said. ‘Kangaroos are wild animals and people need to maintain a safe and respectful distance from them.’’ The wildlife service said it ‘‘can’t stress enough how important it is for people not to feed the kangaroos’’. Feeding kangaroos anything other than their natural diet caused health problems and was ‘‘potentially dangerous for people as the animals can be aggressive or cause accidental injuries, especially to children’’. *Newcastle Herald

Local Protest Planned

Protest Date and Time: Monday 26 July 2010, 12noon to 4pm On the side of Dora Street - main street running through Morisset, past shps and Railway Station, just past the railway overpass. Pls see maps link below, with a blue marker dot showing the Protest location.

Protest Purpose: To show support for the local kangaroo population that spends a lot of its time on the grounds of Morisset Hospital, and to spread the word that a 'kind' 'cull' aka cruel mass-murder and stomping to death of baby kangaroos should be the last things being considered. To promote 'rootourism' following The Kangaroo Trail, as at www.rootourism.com in order to show that kangaroos have more value as tourism drawcards than as pet- or human food. To impress this on local business people. To identify the local kangaroos as the Kangaroo People, valued true-blue citizens of Oz.
To hand out fliers, postcards, and other kinds of informative materials. To enjoy a day out, meeting new people, both kanga and human.
Protest Format:
The protest will mostly be a quiet sit-and-stand by the roadside, holding our placards, waving at motorists, handing out fliers to passers by, having petitions signed, etc.
We may walk to and fro along the footpath past the shops, if felt appropriate at the time. It is anticipated that the group will pay a visit to the kangaroos after the Protest has concluded. Eary birds to Morisset can of course visit the kangas in the hospital grounds in the morning before the Protest. Any and all caring persons are welcome to attend, to participate, or just to chat, for all four hours or just for whatever time you can spare. What to bring: Happy smile & enthusiasm, If coming by car, folding chairs and card tables. Placards, fliers, petitions....Food, drink, umbrellas, warm clothing, a blanket, etc. But shops, cafes nearby.

Please note: This protest has been organised 'on the fly' in response to a Newcastle Herald article of Friday 16 July titled "Cull to be kind":
http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/morisset-hospital-kangaroos-may-be-culled/1886931.aspx Please notice the great lot of comments posted under this article by caring, informed people. The Protest is confirmed as taking place as advised above, but please keep watch for updates. It may be cancelled or postponed pending further talks with NPWS and others during subsequent days. Phone Contacts: Les Hutchinson (02) 4933 8907 or 0423 012 305 Call anytime, leave a message on either number if not answered. A text is fine - I have my mobile on me at all times. *Network Item

Morriset Development Likely

WPAA had a call from a Morriset hospital doctor a few years ago, expressing concern about Morriset Hospital, and the fate of the kangaroos. She claimed that there was pressure from a developer to have the State and Federal governments to close Morriset, which is a hospital for the criminally insane. Apparently it is a prime development site if it could be transferred to development hands. She was also concerned they might release some of the patients if it was closed. However someone else has suggested some of the patients have already been released, and are now working in Government. She may be right. *WPAA


Boxing Kangaroo Again

For a kangaroo forced to wear human clothes and fight in front of screaming audiences, this must have been a rare moment of satisfaction. Rocky, a kangaroo which has long been used as part of a travelling circus based in Texas, is seen in a new video knocking a woman into a bin and then attempting to mount her. But despite Rocky's apparently unnatural actions, Australian animal expert Tim Faulkner said it was actually a proud display of dominance over the humans involved. "It's certainly something we wouldn't condone but it is actually naturalistic behaviour," said Mr Faulkner, who runs the Australian Reptile Park on the NSW Central Coast. "Because what happens in the wild is that kangaroos fight for territory, and the winner gets the girls." "It's normal for the alpha male to copulate with a female after a fight."

Rocky is the same kangaroo that was forced to fight a man in a clown costume at the Kraft-sponsored Texas festival Borderfest in March. That clip sparked controversy across Australia and forced Borderfest to dump the show from their event. This morning ninemsn contacted Rocky's owner, Javier Martinez, who said that the circus continued to operate with the kangaroo as their star attraction. But he became defensive when asked whether it was cruel to force Rocky to perform at the circus. "I don't have [anything to say] about it over the phone," he said before hanging up. On the Rocky Show Circus website Martinez is seen grappling with the kangaroo, which is clad in full boxing gear. Martinez is known to US animal welfare authorities, having been on their watch list since 2003, when two kangaroos he was caring for died within four months. *NineMSM


Flying Foxes

Flying foxes are going a little batty this year in search of food. They're turning up in unusually high numbers around the Parramatta Park area, causing concern for local residents many of whom fear for their fruit trees which will shortly offer ripe pickings. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water spokesman, Roger Bell said flying foxes were found in abundance on both sides of Parramatta River. ``This is due to food shortages in northern NSW and southern Queensland because of unfavourable weather conditions, such as floods and cyclones,'' Mr Bell said. However he said residents did not need to worry because the bats would not hang around for long. ``The grey-headed flying fox is a threatened species and is protected under NSW legislation,'' Mr Bell said. ``People musn't interfere with flying foxes and if they are concerned they should talk to council or the National Park and Wildlife Service.''

Parramatta Park Trust director, Christopher Levins said the colony of bats was not causing significant problems. ``There are up to 7000 bats occupying the north eastern section of Parramatta Park along the banks of Parramatta River,'' Mr Levins said. ``They inhabit both Parramatta Park Trust and Sydney West Area Health Service land.'' Details: Contact Parramatta Park Trust on 8833 5000 or go to www.ppt.nsw.gov.au

Flying Fox Facts * Flying foxes are large bats, weighing up to 1kg, with a wing span which may exceed 1m. * They sleep during the day and feed on pollen, nectar and fruit at night. * They are important pollinators and seed dispersers of native trees. * Seeds are discarded in the faeces or fall where the fruit is being eaten. These seeds germinate when conditions are suitable and ensure that dispersal occurs in a wide area. * Parramatta Leader