Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 30/6/10

Wildlife MiniBytes

From the Editor

We appologise for this late Wildlife Bytes, but we are in the process of changing WPAA servers. In the unlikely event that our contact WPAA email addresses go down for a couple of days next week, we can be contacted at wpaa.info@gmail.com * Editor

Canberra Kangaroo Kill

The manager of Animal Liberation ACT was "worried about people's lives" at Mt Painter last night as activists illegally entered the nature reserve in a bid to stop sharpshooters killing kangaroos . The ACT Government has closed eight nature reserves until July 31 so contract shooters can cull 1890 kangaroos . Animal Liberation ACT president Jo Morgan and at least 10 other protesters drove to Mt Painter last night, where they believed shooting would take place. At 9.40pm Ms Morgan said some of the activists had already "made contact" with the shooters. She said the activists did not intend to confront the shooters. But Animal Liberation ACT manager Bernie Brennan, not at the scene, said the activists planned to confront any shooters they could find. "I really am concerned for the people who are going in tonight," he said. "I'm just trying to keep the voice of rationality there ... "I'm worried about people's lives." *ABC

Meanwhile local activists have been monitoring the Nature Parks at night. Some have entered the Parks, in spite of a $5000 fine if caught, in attempts to harass the shooters. Some of the shooters appear to be driving around the Nature Parks with no lights, (presumably using night vision equipment) to avoid being seen by protestors. Police have turned up on occasions, and security guards are on patrol. So far no protestors have been arrested, all they can do is keep a close watch, and make the shooting as difficult as possible, in freezing below-zero temperatures. We congratulate them all. We also understand that not that many kangaroos are being shot, because the shooters can't find them. Meanwhile we also find that the ACT government has admitted useing scat counting to arrive at their estimates of kangaroo populations in the Nature Parks! As any wildlife carer knows, a kangaroo can poo many, many, times in couple of hours, yet the ACT Government counted the kangaroo scats to justify shooting the kangaroos in the Nature Reserves! Talk about shonky "science"! However we understand that today, Friday 2nd July, that the kill has now finished, either they couldnt find enough kangaroos, or they have shot the 2000 they wanted to. More info later as the details trickle out. *WPAA

New National Parks

New Queensland National Parks have been declared to protect cassowary habitat in Northern Queensland. 5000 hectares of land has been added, plus some more land added to existing National Parks. Another 2000 hectares has been added to the Glasshouse Mountains National Park, and to other National Parks near Ingham and Mission Beach. The Bligh Governemtn has stated that 7.5 % of Queensland will be National Park by 2020. Not much, but a bit better than before. Some parts of Stradbroke Island will also be declared National Park as soon as the Sand Miners tell the government which areas they want! We appreciate the new Parks of course, but it's taken the Queensland Labor Government 20 years to declare these latest ones. Why is it so? It's because we have never, ever, had a more unpopular Government in Queensland, they can see the writing on the wall, and they are trying to get green groups on side! *WPAA

Green Politics

The Australian Greens have produced a nice little Policy Summary booklet. Unfortunately on page 28, where they have Regional Australian policy, they quote they will "support green businesses which use native species" unquote. This raised many alarm bells amonst the wildlife groups, and many people have written to them asking to clarify their position. The first response received was, Quote "The Greens Animals policy states as a key principle that "native animals and their habitats must be protected". To clarify, the statement in the policy summary booklet that “The Greens will support green business initiatives which use native species” should be understood in the context of the Greens Animals policy." Unquote. Which didn't make a lot of sense. After a further letter to the Greens, this reply below came back.

Quote. "As the Greens Federal spokesperson for animal welfare I would like to assure you that the statement in the policy summary booklet that “The Greens will support green business initiatives which use native species” should not be a cause of concern to you or others concerned with the rights of animals and protection of native fauna species. The statement in the booklet, which is a brief summary of some of the Greens policies, should be understood in the context of the Greens animals policy. The Greens animals policy states as a key principle that "native animals and their habitats must be protected" and there is no reason to believe that any support for productive use of native species would breach this policy. The statement refers to business opportunities that would arise from the use of native flora species and could include for example, food and health products. The Greens are the only party with comprehensive polices on animals welfare and protection and I encourage you to compare the Greens policies on animals and native species protection with those of the major parties." Unquote.

Well, most people think its still a bit unclear. After all, kangaroos are protected now, so are emus, but it still doesn't stop the commercial killing of kangaroos, or the farming of emus, in which naturally wideranging emus are treated like chickens, complete with toe and beak clipping. So if the Greens meant only plants and flowers, why didnt they say so? *WPAA


The leader of a U.S.-based anti-whaling organization is now on an international wanted list for allegedly masterminding the group's disruption of Japanese whale hunts in the Antarctic Ocean, Japan's coast guard said Friday. The move — done at Japan's request — signals Tokyo's escalating anger against the Sea Shepherd group, which it accuses of putting whalers' lives at risk during the annual Antarctic hunt. The Canadian founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, 59, has been on the Interpol list since Wednesday, Coast Guard spokesman Shinichiro Tanaka said. He said Watson's whereabouts is unknown. Sea Shepherd officials were not immediately available for comment. *Foxnews

Indigenous people of Greenland won a long battle Friday to extend their annual whale hunt to humpbacks, overriding objections from conservation-minded members of the International Whaling Commission. The decision came at the end of a contentious five-day meeting that failed to resolve a larger dispute: a proposal to suspend a quarter-century ban on commercial whaling in exchange for a promise by the three whaling countries — Japan, Norway and Iceland — to reduce the numbers they kill in defiance of the ban. The commission decided on a one-year "pause" in negotiations on the moratorium. Greenlanders, like indigenous people from three other countries, are granted the right to hunt for food and to maintain traditional cultures, but only under strict quotas that are reviewed every five years. They have been allowed to kill more than 200 of the common minke whale, but also 19 of the endangered fin whale. About half of Greenland's 60,000 people are indigenous to the icebound island. Opponents objected to expanding the list of allowed species and to potential damage to the whale-watching industry in the Caribbean, where the humpbacks roam. *AAP


The Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor says Border Protection Command today apprehended a foreign vessel suspected of illegally fishing in the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. “It’s alleged that the boat was stopped about 48 nautical miles north west of Maningrida in the Northern Territory and officers found about 20 kilograms of shark fin on board,” Mr O’Connor said. “Shark fin is a regarded as a delicacy in some parts of Asia but it is illegal for foreign vessels to take marine life from this part of Australian waters.” The boat’s five crew members will be transported to Darwin for interview by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. “Australia enforces strict penalties upon those who violate our foreign fishing laws. Offenders face fines of up to $750 000 and Australian authorities can destroy boats involved in illegal foreign fishing,” Mr O’Connor said. The boat was initially detected by a Dash-8 surveillance aircraft early this morning and was later apprehended by HMAS Albany. The operation was under the control of Border Protection Command and was conducted in support of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority. *Australia.to.news

Kangaroos and Fluoride

For those that havn't already read about this tragedy in Wildlife Bytes or elsewhere previously, Natural News is running the story as well at........ http://www.naturalnews.com/029094_kangaroos_fluoride.html

Gulf Oil Spill

The US State Department says 12 countries and international organizations are helping with the Gulf oil disaster. The particulars of the help are being worked out. The only nation identified was Japan, which is providing two high-speed skimmers and fire-containment boom. The Associated Press reports that more than 30 countries and international organizations have offered help, but that the State Department did not explain why some offers were turned down. The news comes as cleanup ships have been by idled by Tropical Storm Alex, which is headed toward Texas. * OnDeadline

White Elephant

A rare white elephant, historically considered in Burma to herald good fortune, has been captured in the west of the military-ruled nation, state media reported. The female elephant was captured by officials on Saturday in the coastal town of Maungtaw in Rakhine state, the New Light of Burma newspaper said. The animal is aged about 38 and seven feet four inches tall, the English-language paper said, although it did not mention where it would be kept. Kings and leaders in Burma, a predominantly Buddhist country, have traditionally treasured white elephants, whose rare appearances in the country are believed to herald good fortune, including power and political change. Two private planes for Burma's Senior General Than Shwe and four other top leaders were named "White Elephant" this year on the advice of astrologers, according to the Irrawaddy, a respected Thailand-based magazine on Burma. The junta chief is described by critics and some experts on the regime as deeply superstitious. A popular Rangoon astrologer told the Irrawaddy that the name was not only designed to avert bad luck but also a portent to defeat enemies. Burma, which has been military-ruled since 1962, is due to hold its first elections for two decades later this year, although a date has not yet been announced. Despite their name, the elephants' skin is more pink than white. *AFP


Wildlife officials in Malaysian Borneo are pushing to have its saltwater crocodiles removed from a list of endangered animals, saying the reptile's numbers have strongly recovered in recent years. Deputy director of the Sabah Wildlife Department Augustin Tuuga said a survey of the Crocodylus porosus population showed there were about 11,000 to 15,000 in the state compared to 1000 to 5000 two decades ago. ``We are pushing to have the crocodile downgraded from the 'endangered' to the 'not necessarily threatened' list on the Convention of International Trade of Species (CITES),'' he said. Tuuga said there was big demand for legal crocodile leather from handbag and clothing accessory manufacturers as well as for crocodile meat in kitchens throughout Asia. ``Under CITES, these crocodiles can only come from breeding farms but once the crocodile is downgraded, manufacturers will be able to get the crocodiles from the wild.'' Saltwater crocodiles have the most commercially valuable skin of its species and are found from Sri Lanka all the way to the Caroline Islands in the Western Pacific. *Townsville Bulletin

In the heavyweight championship bout of the animal kingdom, a giant crocodile defeated a shark in a TKO - and then enjoyed a victory seafood dinner. Two boats full of tourists got the photo opportunity of a lifetime after the 16-foot crocodile's decisive win on a river in Australia's Kakadu National Park Saturday morning, the country's Northern Territory News reported. "Nearly 100 people saw it all...and they were jumping for joy," tour guide David Cameron told the newspaper. "They said this had made their Kakadu trip." The loser, a bull shark that had meandered up the aptly named South Alligator River in search of food, was about 10 feet long before it was bitten in half. The croc had the home-field advantage because the seagoing shark was swimming through fresh water at the time of the attack. Cameron, a former park ranger, told the newspaper it's not the first time he's seen the two species fight for a berth at the top of the food chain. "With the wildlife here, you just don't know what you'll get to see," he said. "That's the beauty of it." *NY times


An army of volunteers braved the cold weather to help Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia. ORRCA held its annual whale census on Sunday and volunteers from around the coast headed to coastal lookouts to help count passing whales. Volunteers at Copacobana saw 36 humpback whales, Norah Head counters saw 29 and Crackneck reported 14. There were also 10 humpback whales seen at Forresters Beach and 12 at The Entrance. ``We have had a very enthusiastic response from volunteers nationwide, but particularly on the Central Coast where some of our best whale watching sites are,'' ORRCA president Ron Ling said. The coast total goes towards the national count, which volunteers expect will exceed more than 800, more than ORRCA has ever had on a census day. ``It was absolutely brilliant, especially given the weather conditions were a bit horrible but people still stuck it out,'' Mr Ling said. ``It is a great result and great action from the army of Central Coast volunteers.'' When ORRCA has counted up all the sightings they make the information available to anyone who is interested including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, environment bodies, universities and museums. The data is then used to help those groups learn more about the population and behaviour of whales. * Central Coast Express

Scrub Turkeys

Whether you call them brush turkeys, bush turkeys or scrub turkeys, they're invading local backyards and angering locals by destroying their carefully-tended gardens. Seaforth resident Janet Wright has had five brush turkeys invade her street since Christmas. She said they are coming out of Garigal National Park and becoming increasingly confident. ``They scratch big holes in all the flower beds and make quite a mess, and they dig around all the trees and plants in search of grubs,'' she said. ``They just wander in when you're not home or fly over the fence and damage your garden. ``Some people in the area have had the turkeys trying to build these huge nests.'' Brush turkey mounds can measure 4m wide and 1.5m tall. Once built, it is almost impossible to get rid of the turkeys. Brush turkeys are a protected species, so there are limits to what people can do to protect their gardens. Mrs Wright said her cat is petrified of the brush turkeys, so now she's thinking of getting a dog to scare them away. National Parks and Wildlife Service wildlife management officer Geoff Ross said brush turkeys are simply returning to traditional feeding grounds, but humans are encouraging them by leaving seed out for birds and pet food out in dishes. And people disturbing soil to cultivate their gardens encourages the turkeys to do the same. ``Once they know there's food there, they'll keep coming back for more,'' he said. ``And if you have a garden with lots of leaf litter, they love scratching for food in it.'' Mr Ross said there are motion-activated water sprinklers that people can employ to discourage unwanted visitors to their gardens. *Manly Daily Kangaroo Survey

As Agforce are doing their best to get more people to support them on killing kangaroos, we now have our own survey. Please follow the link, complete the survey (there are only ten questions) and lets see what sorts of number and public concern we can generate. The results will be published on the website. This is very important and we ask you to spread this far and wide. Thank you.BABY KANGAROO SURVEY 2010 http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8RTMQJJ * sent by Philip Woolley AWPC UK Rep


The New South Wales Opposition says the National Parks and Wildlife Service acted irresponsibly, after penguins were killed in a burn-off to control a noxious grass species. The service intended to use sniffer dogs to safely remove the penguins before a burn to control the kikuyu grass on Montague Island, near Narooma. The dogs were unavailable at the last minute and a small number of penguins died in the fire, but fewer than a similar operation in 2001, which killed 40 birds. Opposition environment spokeswoman Catherine Cusack says the burn should not have taken place. "We do not question the program, it's very important. It's the way it is implemented," she said. "To have deferred the burn until such time as they could be absolutely certain penguins were not going to be literally burnt alive would have been the most sensible course of action." *ABC

Natural Gas Impacts Serious

The burgeoning and unstoppable Liquid Natural Gas Industry development in Queensland will have a devastating impact of many species. Koalas, bridlenailtailed wallabies, tusked frogs, turtles, woodland snails, waterhole frogs, gliders, little pied bats, dugongs, grey pigeons, owls, squatter pigeons......and that's only the listed endangered or rare species! Dredging of Gladstone Harbour, a gas pipeline through the World Heritage Area, massive LNG gas structures on Curtis Island, and much more. Hundreds of hectares of Queensland bush will be cleared (it's already started), and many more mangroves will be trashed at Gladstone for more harbour development. Land will be (and aready has been) excised from National Parks and Conservation Zones to make way for power lines, roads, houses, and rail lines. Artificial lights from the LNG plant will affect turtles, birds, frogs, reptiles, and particularly migrating birds, many of which we have signed Treatys to protect. While these impacts have been identified in the LNG Environmental Impact Studies, it's a sure bet that the impacts will be glossed over or minimised. *WPAA


Emergency spending of 12.8 millon will be spent combating locusts in SA, in the worst locust outbreak in 40 years. Agriculture Minister Michael O'Brien said the locusts posed a serious threat to crops and pasture in the southern Flinders Ranges and Northern Agricultural Area, Eastern Eyre Peninsula, the Riverland and Murray Mallee regions. Mr O'Brien also warned that given the locusts' migratory habits, high-value crops in the Clare region and northern Adelaide Plains could also be at risk. The funding package announced includes extensive aerial spraying of open pastoral country, a rebate scheme of up to $2500 for properties under 1000 hectares and up to 20 per cent of costs for properties over 1000 hectares, extra resources could be allocated in the September Budget should the plague be more extensive or last longer than expected. Mr O'Brien said a grant of up to $1 million would be provided to help local government in affected areas to undertake control works. "Failure to respond to this expected locust plague has the potential to cause billions of dollars in damage to agricultural production in SA in spring and summer," he said. Depending on climatic conditions, control operations against locusts will start in September in the Mid North-southern Flinders Ranges and then progress to the Riverland-Murray Mallee. *Adelaide Now

Millions of locusts continue to plague Queensland's central-west, with one western Queensland Mayor saying the sky is "black with swarms". For several months graziers have been reporting huge numbers of spur-throated locusts across the central-west and authorities have conducted aerial spraying over thousands of hectares. Some Barcaldine graziers say they have never seen so many of the insects. The biggest plague in 30 years hit Longreach during April, but Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler says they are still causing havoc in his shire. "They come and go - they seem to disappear for a while and then you come back later in the afternoon - you can see them in the backdrop and the sky is half black with them," he said. "They've cleaned up a few cotton palms and a few trees around the place. "I was down on the Barcoo River yesterday and it was just unbelievable - there was one every square inch." However, Councillor Chandler says the swarms make for good fishing... "Put a grasshopper on a hook - you will catch a fish," he said. "In the 74 flood - after the big flood - we were catching fish here at the weir on grasshoppers because bait was pretty hard to get. "But you'll catch a fish here now on grasshoppers for sure." *ABC

Climate Change

Giant sea walls may have to be built and coastal developments banned or demolished to safeguard southeast Queensland against rising sea levels, Australia's peak scientific body has warned. The CSIRO has also flagged the prospect of controversial "planned retreat" policies to force waterfront residents to abandon their homes as sea levels rise and storm surges increase. The grim predictions have been made at a world-first "climate adaptation" conference on the Gold Coast opened yesterday by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong. International scientists at the conference say climate change is now impossible to stop and the world will have to learn to adapt to rising sea levels, prolonged droughts and extreme weather. *Courier Mail Read More..... http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/great-walls-to-stem-rising-seas/story-e6freon6-1225885878659


ACT animal rights activists said they have been ambushed by the Government's latest kangaroo cull, leaving them wrong-footed unable to organise a proper protest effort. But Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said the muted reaction to the killing of 1890 of the animals in the city's nature parks simply means that the community is coming around to his Government's way of thinking. The latest round of culling of the over-abundant eastern grey kangaroo from around the capital began on Saturday night, with the Government closing off eight nature reserves and bringing in marksmen to destroy the animals, and is due to continue for the next eight weeks. There has been none of the noisy and sometimes rowdy protests that greeted previous culls, most notably the divisive killing of 600 roos at Belconnen's Naval Signals Base in 2008. But animal rights groups say that the Government has employed ambush-style tactics this time, planning its move in secret and depriving opponents of their democratic right to protest.

Animal Army spokesman Marcus Fillinger said that ''blindside tactics'' were used to plan the cull that was now under way. 'No one does deception and misinformation quite like the ACT Government,'' he said. ''Their blindside tactics are synonymous with their belligerence and sly agendas.'' Mr Fillinger vowed that his and other groups would continue to fight against the cull by other means. Animal Liberation ACT president Bernard Brennan said that the sheer scale of the Canberra Nature Park had stymied the group's preferred direct action protest tactics. ''It's easy when you can pin it down to just one spot,'' Mr Brennan said. ''There are people out there looking for these shooters night after night but the chances of finding them are very slim. 'I can assure you that we have a long list of telephone numbers and if we find a location there are a lot of people who will be there, ready to go, in a short period of time.''

But Mr Stanhope said he had seen a gradual reduction in the level of protest in the five years that the Government had been culling kangaroos. 'With the first cull, four or five years ago, there were very strong reaction, but in the cull that was pursued last year, the number of representations I received dropped by almost 90per cent,'' he said. 'People find it distressing and uncomfortable, as do I. 'But I believe that the vast majority of Canberrans, while feeling regretful and sad, understand the necessity for this and support the Government's actions.'' The Chief Minister said he would prefer protesters to accept the Government's position rather than participate in direct action. *Canberra Times

Two leading animal campaigning groups AWPC (Australian Wildlife Protection Council) and Viva! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals) are contacting the sports retail giant Nike to congratulate them on taking an ethical decision that could save the lives of thousands of kangaroos. A Nike spokesman confirmed yesterday that they would stop using the skins of kangaroos in their football boots: We are moving towards eradicating the use of kangaroo leather altogether?*. The move by Nike came after the campaigning groups at expos showing that internationally renowned players at the World Cup were playing in boots made from kangaroo skins or using their names to promote them. These include Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick**. Millions of adult kangaroos are shot in the Outback in Australia each year for their meat and skin. Also it is estimated that as many as 440,000 orphaned baby kangaroos (joeys) are decapitated or beaten to death every year, then discarded as waste. Nike own British sports company Umbro which also uses kangaroo leather, and they will also be encouraged to extend the policy to them. The AWPC and Viva! will also contact Adidas and Puma, both of which widely use kangaroo leather. The news from Nike has boosted the campaign to ban the sale of kangaroo parts across the EU, which was already making headway. Last week both Philip Woolley, EU Campaign Director for the Australian Wildlife Protection Council and Justin Kerswell, Campaigns Manager for Viva! were invited to go to the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss their concerns. In fact, 62 per cent of support for a ban is coming from within the EU. Woolley said: Nike's ethical decision is to be welcomed. It is heartening that ahead of a possible EU ban on all kangaroo products, sports manufacturers are waking up to the cruelty behind this horrific industry and are unilaterally distancing themselves from it. We know that once people hear about the bloodshed and misery behind the trade in kangaroo skins they want no part of it, and we predict that the sales of football boots made from it will soon plummet. Kerswell said: It is fantastic news that Nike are planning to kick cruelty out of football and not a moment too soon. The use of kangaroo skin for football boots is a scandal that has gone on too long. It also leaves no excuse for other companies to continue participating in the largest massacre of wild land animals on the planet today. Many people don't even know they are buying boots made from kangaroo skin, as it is often hidden under pseudonyms such as k-leather. Most would be horrified that their World Cup and League hopes and dreams not to mention even their five aside kickabouts are being propelled by this slaughter. We are delighted that Nike are getting out now before an EU ban, as it perhaps shows they know they cannot defend the indefensible: the killing of baby animals for a sports boot. * Media Release

Baby kangaroos (joeys) shot in their mothers' pouches, cull protesters claim. More than 80 joeys were illegally killed - some even shot in their mothers' pouches - during a cull of kangaroos around Mount Panorama motor racing circuit, a conservation group said yesterday. The Australian Society for Kangaroos said the cull in September last year allegedly broke at least two animal protection laws. The society has demanded an investigation by police and the RSPCA. Bathurst Council authorised the cull of 140 eastern grey kangaroos because it claimed they were a threat to drivers during races on the track. A kangaroo came perilously close to being hit by several cars during the 2007 Bathurst 1000 race and in 2004 a driver slammed into a kangaroo. The society said documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed the professional shooter who did the cull under a licence from the Parks and Wildlife Service had killed 228 kangaroos, not the 140 permitted.

"The shooter says in his report to council that he killed 228 kangaroos and they were 97 females, 43 males and 88 joeys," Society Co-Ordinator Nikki Sutterby said yesterday. "The shooter also told a local source, who told us, that he said he'd shot many of the joeys while they were still in their mothers' pouches. "The laws see a joey as one individual animal, which would require them to be included in the [number] the shooter had a licence to kill. Ms Sutterby said that in September 2008 Bathurst Council had herded away the roos - a tactic that worked. Bathurst Council General Manager David Sherley said yesterday it had obtained all relevant permits for the cull. *News.com.auMake a comment... http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/joeys-shot-in-their-mothers-pouches-cull-protesters-claim/story-e6freuzi-1225883446120

A kangaroo shooter who killed 50 eastern greys and claimed they were red kangaroos has been fined $12,000 in the Deniliquin Local Court. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) prosecuted the matter under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. John Edward Fitzmaurice, from Deniliquin, pleaded guilty to six charges including harming protected fauna and contravening a licence condition. Mr Fitzmaurice was charged after an inspection of a chiller – where kangaroo carcases are stored – revealed dead animals with identification tags which were for a different species. DECCW director, Joshua Gilroy, says the offence occurred when the commercial harvest of eastern grey kangaroos had been suspended in the area. “There are limits placed on the numbers and types of kangaroos able to be harvested commercially by professional shooters,” Mr Gilroy says in a statement released yesterday (Wednesday).

“These limits or quotas are set for each management zone using scientific methodology to ensure the various kangaroo species remain at ecologically sustainable levels in areas where they are harvested commercially. “These limits must be adhered to under the Commonwealth-approved kangaroo management plan. “In this case the commercial quota for eastern grey kangaroos had been fully utilised in the zone where the shooter was operating. “He was only allowed to shoot red kangaroos in that zone. “DECCW compliance officers were doing a strategic audit in the area when they discovered the offences. “These audits form part of a stringent licensing program to ensure the protection of our native species,” says Mr Gilroy. *Cowra Community News

Why do kangaroos have such small arms?

Scientists now think they know why, helping to explain why the unusually-shaped marsupials have tiny arms yet such long legs. Kangaroos have small forelimbs because short arms are necessary to survive within their mother's pouch soon after they are born, a new analysis confirms. This need to crawl at an early age constrained the evolution of marsupial body shapes, leading to the animals we see today, scientists say. The research also provides intriguing clues as to why there are no marsupials with flippers or wings. The study is published in the Australian Journal of Zoology.

Compared to placental mammals, marsupials such as kangaroos are born at an early stage of foetal development. They end up 'stuck' with this forelimb shape in later life Once born they immediately climb or crawl in the pouch to their mother's teat using unusually well developed forelimbs. "It occurred to me that this type of birth strategy could have constrained the evolutionary diversification of their forelimb shapes," says Dr Jim Cooper of Syracuse University, New York in the US. "The idea is that since they need the forelimbs to climb across their mother's belly at birth, they end up 'stuck' with this forelimb shape in later life," he says.

The idea is not new, being first proposed in the 1970s. But the predictions of this so-called "constraint hypothesis" had never been tested. So Dr Cooper worked with Professor Scoot Steppan from Florida State University in Tallahassee, US, to design a study to do just that. Using skeletons of an extensive range of mammals from various scientific and museum collections, the researchers measured and compared their different body shapes, mapping the diversity of limb proportions between marsupial and placental mammals. That revealed that the evolution of marsupial forelimbs has indeed been constrained compared to those of placental mammals. "Our results show tremendous support for the existence of a very powerful constraint on marsupial limb evolution," Dr Cooper says.

"We now know that marsupial forelimb shape has been evolving at a much slower rate in comparison to their sister group, the placental mammals." "If they can't make the crawl, then they don't survive, so the importance of having 'good climbing forelimbs' trumps the importance of having good running forelimbs." That also explains why kangaroos have such long hind limbs. "We also know the rate of hind limb shape evolution has not been slower among the marsupials." That is because the development of hind legs were not constrained by life in the pouch. So they are able to grow long to enable kangaroos to hop fast, compensating for the lack of effective front legs that can be used for four-legged running. The constraint hypothesis may also explain why marsupials have never taken to the air or water, as their forelimbs cannot evolve into structures capable of flying or swimming. "This concept has profound implications for answering such questions as 'why are there no marsupial bats or whales?'" says Dr Cooper. "You don't see any marsupials that swim with flippers, even though this useful adaptation has evolved three times in the placental mammals," he says. "The stronger the support for this hypothesis, then the more certain we are that we can explain the root cause of this major evolutionary pattern." BBC EarthNews

Kangaroo Petition here at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/kangaroo-extinction.html

Exotic Sea Irchins

Highly lucrative fisheries are under threat from potentially devastating sea creatures, it has been revealed. The State Government yesterday admitted it could be forced to financially back the rock lobster and wild abalone industries, both worth more than $100 million, which are threatened by the spread of the spiny sea urchin. Primary Industries Minister Bryan Green confirmed the pest population was out of control and had spread from the East Coast as far as Port Davey in the South-West. The creature is believed to have surfed in on warmer than normal sea currents over the past decade, gradually establishing itself along the coast. Last year international research found that the southern migration of the sea urchin had started to have a "catastrophic" impact on the state's kelp beds, leaving no food or habitat for rock lobster and abalone populations.

Liberal primary industries spokesman Jeremy Rockliff said with millions of dollars invested by the State Government targeting the eradication of foxes, more needed to be done to try to bring the sea urchin population under control. "It is imperative that we act now to implement a long-term strategy to reduce sea urchin numbers and help protect the rock lobster industry which is worth $60 million to the state's economy," Mr Rockliff said. Mr Green said no financially or physically viable eradication program had yet been found by the Government. He said as the population continued "to get away from us" and the pressure mounted on fisheries, other support options might have to be considered. The third and final stage of a review of rock lobster fisheries is about to begin.

Meanwhile, Mr Rockliff told a Budget Estimates Committee hearing, oyster and scallop farmers in the River Derwent and around Bruny Island were reporting sea star larvae were impacting the growing periods on their farms. Mr Rockliff said with the pest threatening gross income of farmers, the Government should provide assistance to make them more pro-active about on-farm eradication strategies. But Water and Marine Resources general manager Wes Ford said there was no financial assistance available to deal with marine pests such as sea stars. Admitting they were now well established within the River Derwent, Mr Ford said it would be "virtually impossible" to eradicate the pest within "reasonable cost". Sea stars were introduced to the Derwent in 1986 through the ballast water of Japanese ships. *Mercury


Logging overseen by the state government agency Forests NSW is being investigated by the environment department for apparently damaging areas inhabited by koalas, sugar gliders and giant barred frogs. An independent team of zoologists and botanists visited the site of recent logging, near Evans Head in northern NSW, and found trees that should have been protected had been cut down, and no sign that parts of the logging area had been properly marked out beforehand to protect endangered species. The team, with the support of the environment group North East Forest Alliance, is alleging that Forests NSW has been "routinely and comprehensively breaching licence requirements across the region". Their report is now being investigated by the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water.

Forests NSW is already under investigation for breaches of licence conditions at a separate logging site about 30 kilometres from Doubleduke state forest, the scene of the latest logging. It was fined $1200 by the department in May for a separate series of licence breaches in the same district, but the relatively small sum angered environment groups campaigning for more oversight. "In our view, this is a major act of environmental vandalism," Dailan Pugh, a spokesman for the North East Forest Alliance, said. "They are logging in endangered ecological communities and there is a systematic avoidance of the proper requirements. "We're also concerned about the example this is setting for the wider community. If you have got state agencies flouting the laws, how can you expect everyone else to follow them?"

The environment department said it had "conducted a proactive audit of Forests NSW harvesting operations" in a different logging area in the same forest early this month. It is now assessing the more recent damage. "In response to the allegations, [the department has] conducted a site inspection, and investigation of the matter is ongoing," a spokesman said. The department requires Forests NSW to meet its licence conditions, including the marking up of all trees that need to be left alone to protect vulnerable native animals, but the licence does not require the department to check every logging area. Under the long-established licence conditions, logging in state forests requires surveys for protected species and buffer zones established around their habitat.

The report compiled by researchers working with the North East Forest Alliance, to be released today, recorded widespread damage to native animal habitat and alleged 20 breaches of the threatened species licence in Doubleduke state forest. It also alleges that road building, logging and burning operations within the endangered ecological community breached the National Parks and Wildlife Act. The bushland area is known to support yellow-bellied gliders, marsupials that depend on the sweet sap that oozes from some eucalypt trees to survive. Sap feed trees were observed in the logging area. Koalas, powerful owls, barking owls and brush-tailed phascogales - a small, carnivorous marsupial that is considered vulnerable to extinction - have also been reported in the bush in and around the logging area. *ABC10