Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 17/11/10

Leading Stories

New Zealand has told Japan its whaling ships will be closely watched during the season that is about to start, Foreign Minister Murray McCully says. He said on Sunday the Japanese whalers would be coming into New Zealand's search and rescue zone and for that reason would be monitored more closely. "I've spoken to the Japanese government and told them that New Zealanders are going to be watching what they do this year," he said on TV One's Q&A program. "They set themselves a target take in terms of the number of whales they intend to catch - if that is a high number that's going to upset and antagonise New Zealanders a great deal. "Even if it's a lower number ... even that is going to be upsetting to many and they know that."

McCully said he was trying to persuade the Japanese to get out of whaling. "Sometime in the next five years they've got to replace some very expensive equipment, particularly the mother ship, if they intend to keep on whaling in the Southern Ocean," he said. "They have got to spend a large amount of money on new plant and face international hostility, particularly from New Zealand." McCully said he would be meeting Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra this week, and would discuss Japanese whaling with him and the international court case the Australian government is taking against Japan. New Zealand could join that, and McCully said he wanted to hear about it in detail before a decision was made. *NZPA

Koalas

Noosa National Park's famed koala population is on the brink of being wiped out. Just four remain in the prominent headland section, where tourists and locals regularly try to glimpse the animals. It's thought the reserve has a total of 11, taking into account animals that live on the park's perimeters at Sunshine and Peregian beaches. The last handful are among the most watched in Australia, with about 1 million visitors a year to one of the nation's most popular national parks. Wildlife carer and Noosa resident Carolyn Beaton said yesterday koalas were abundant just 10 years ago. ``Five years ago numbers in the headland section reduced to 30,'' Ms Beaton said. ``Today, just four remain.'' Koala scientist Jon Hanger said he could not confirm figures until a survey was done but numbers were very low.

``Populations that low can't sustain themselves, especially with infertility rates of about 50 per cent or less (because of chlamydia),'' Dr Hanger said. ``In the case of Noosa, you are losing a very important tourist icon and if we can't manage that, the State Government is failing dismally.'' He said if the government was prepared to intensively manage koala issues it was possible disease-free animals pushed out of development areas could be moved into Noosa, but it was pointless under current conditions. Ms Beaton said Noosa's koala losses reflected the impacts on the animals across much of the southeast from busier roads, more dogs and disease.

She said Sustainability Minister Kate Jones's department concentrated its work in the Redlands and Pine Rivers areas and while she did not begrudge this, she said Noosa koalas deserved an assessment. A management plan should also be written to stabilise and rebuild numbers, she said. Ms Jones said the government was already doing many of the things people were calling for, including spending $2.5 million on a five-year koala survey from the NSW border, west to Ipswich and north to Noosa. `We're investing $43.5 million to acquire and rehabilitate land for koalas over five years,'' she said. ``We're providing $400,000 for koala disease research funding. ``And we're spending $10 million (through transport and main roads) to retro-fit known koala black spots on major roads to make them more koala friendly.'' Ms Jones said Redlands and Pine Rivers projects were being prioritised because koalas there were most at risk, but parts of Noosa had been identified as Koala Conservation Areas and development can be regulated. *Courier Mail

Editorial

Yesterday November the 15th was Steve Irwin Day, a day set aside for remembering and celebrating the life of Steve Irwin. I was lucky enough to be at Australia Zoo yesterday, but all over the World many other people who couldnt be there, quietly remembered Steve and the amazing things he accomplished in his short life. His legacy can be seen everywhere in the children of the world who now have a special interest in wildlife because of Steve's passion for protecting our native birds and animals. So what was I doing at the Zoo? I was helping our WPAA Vice-President Bill Corn conduct wildlife photography workshops for Zoo visitors. This was the launch of our new multimedia publishing company Wildlife Bytes Pty Ltd. To see some of the images Wildlife Bytes produce, go to http://www.wildlifebytes.com.au and check out the image gallery. Any and all profits from Wildlife Bytes Pty Ltd. will go to our wildlife education programs in schools. I also had the opportunity to meet Paul Watson, whom I hadn't met before. It was an amazing day, and the Zoo was packed by visitors remembering and honoring Steve and his passion for wildlife. *WPAA

Redback Spiders

Redback spiders could pose a real threat to New Zealand's native wildlife, according to AgResearch scientist Dr Cor Vink. Although it was previously thought the Australian spider could not establish in even moderately wet climates, research published this month in the international journal Biological Invasions suggests the redback would thrive in some parts of New Zealand. AgResearch scientist Dr Cor Vink told Radio New Zealand the spider would likely live urban areas near ports which is of concern to humans, however the real threat is to native wildlife. "We have DNA evidence that is has interbred with the Katipo near Gisborne at some point in time, and also in Central Otago we have found the remains of endangered beetles, the Alexandra chafer beetle, in its web," Mr Vink said. "We haven't found any evidence of it feeding on skinks, but in Australia they certainly do feed on skinks and very small snakes even. "Their web is incredibly tough so anything that blunders into the web is fair game for it." Mr Vink said while the spider was poisonous, its bite was not fatal. "You won't die, you will just feel like you are going to," he said. "There are accounts of people saying it is like having your skin ripped off." *NZ Herald

Fraser Island Dingoes......DINGO DAY and CANDLE NIGHT..

A day of celebration, education and exciting entertainment will be held in support of the Fraser Island Dingo.. SAUSAGE SIZZLE, RAFFLES/EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL, MUSIC, SKYDIVING DISPLAY
HELICOPTER FLYOVER, WILDIFE PRESENTATION by Tess Wildlife Sanctuary. Culminating at sunset with the lighting of 3000 CANDLES creating a giant 60 metre effigy of a Dingo. This amazing display will be designed by JORGE PUJOL, foremost expert in candle-lit public art statements who has promoted humanitarian and environmental causes around the world.. Community involvement is essential to make this momentous day a success, candles/bags will be available from 10AM ..$2 per bag. VENUE: DAYMAN PARK..HERVEY BAY DATE: SUNDAY 5th. DECEMBER. COMMENCING: 10AM till SUNSET. All are invited to participate in this spectacular event.. For any enquiries please contact: Karin...(Save Fraser Island Dingoes) Ph: 07 4124 1979

Tigers

Parts of at least 1,069 tigers have been seized in tiger range countries over the past decade, according to new analysis of tiger seizures carried out by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. Reduced To Skin And Bones shows that from January 2000 to April this year, parts of between 1,069 and 1,220 tigers were seized in 11 of the 13 tiger range countries - an average of 104 to 119 animals per year. Of the 11, India, China and Nepal ranked highest in the number of tiger part seizures, the report states, with India by far the highest number of tiger part seizures at 276, representing between 469 and 533 tigers. China, with 40, had the second highest number of seizures, or 116-124 tigers, and Nepal reported 39 seizures, or 113-130 tigers, according to the report. *Network Item

New Squid Found

A new species of squid has been discovered by scientists during a research cruise in the southern Indian ocean. The 70cm-long specimen is a large member of the chiroteuthid family. Squid from this group are long and slender with light-producing organs, which act as lures to attract prey. It was found during analysis of 7,000 samples gathered during last year's Seamounts cruise led by the conservation group IUCN. The project started a year ago when marine experts embarked on a six-week research expedition in the Indian Ocean. The aim of the cruise was to unveil the mysteries of seamounts - underwater mountains - in the southern Indian Ocean and to help improve conservation and management of marine resources in the area. "For 10 days now 21 scientists armed with microscopes have been working through intimidating rows of jars containing fishes, squids, zooplankton and other interesting creatures," says Alex Rogers, of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, "Many specimens look similar to each other and we have to use elaborate morphological features such as muscle orientation and gut length to differentiate between them." So far, more than 70 species of squid have been identified from the Seamounts cruise, representing more than 20% of the global squid biodiversity. *BBC

Flying Foxes

Former federal environment minister Peter Garrett is standing by his decision to allow action to be taken to disperse a colony of bats in Sydney's botanic gardens. The Botanic Gardens Trust sought approval last year to use noise harassment techniques to try to get the grey-headed flying foxes to move away. The trust argued the bats were damaging trees. Mr Garrett eventually approved the dispersal because he was confident it would not have an unacceptable impact on the colony. Environment group Bat Advocacy New South Wales has lodged a Federal Court challenge, claiming his decision was legally flawed because it did not take into account mandatory considerations. But Mr Garrett says it was the right course of action. "As with all the decisions I took when I was the environment minister, I was scrupulous in taking special account of the advice that came before me," he said. "I believe I made a decision that was not only right in policy terms but was absolutely right in law. "It will now be a case of the Federal Court making a judgment on that decision, but I'm very confident that I acted both properly in terms of the advice and properly in terms of the law." *ABC

In another report from the ABC, Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth wants the State Government to provide financial support for farmers affected by flying foxes in his north Queensland electorate. Mr Knuth says crop losses are as high as 50 per cent after the State Government banned damage mitigation permits in 2009. "What we're saying to the State Government is that if you're not going to support in some way, if you're going to issue these bans, then pay and compensate farmers - or pay for the netting so farmers can protect the crop from this devastation caused by the flying foxes," he said. He says it is an unworkable situation right now. "I challenge the State Government and the Premier and the Ministers - would you be prepared to give up 50 per cent of your pay and their pay to protect the flying fox?" he said. "This is what these farmers have to do day in, day out. "They're defenceless - they cannot do anything." *

Uranium Mining

BHP Billiton is pushing ahead with plans for an open pit uranium mine at Roxby Downs in South Australia, despite more than 4,000 complaints against it, evidence the mine has not been designed to prevent radioactive waste leaking and no plans to clean up the toxic waste it generates, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation. The mine’s legacy will be “a toxic lake as a permanent radioactive scar on the landscape,” says ACF nuclear free campaigner David Noonan. * Ecomedia Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has greenlighted uranium exports to Russia, reviving a controversial deal initially brokered by the Howard government. Gillard ratified an agreement with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on 12 November at the G20 summit in Seoul. *WPAA

Mining

The Northern Territory Environment Centre is concerned iron ore mining in the south-east of the Gulf of Carpentaria will do irreversible damage to the environment. Western Desert Resources and Sherwin Iron are stepping up their campaigns to set up iron ore mines in the Territory's Roper Bar area. The targeted areas include the proposed Limmen national park, which has been registered as a proposed national park since 1991. The centre's coordinator Stuart Blanch says mining will change the face of the proposed park and the Roper area forever. "If you bring together the infrastructure - in terms of mines, roads, pipelines, railways, barging and deep-water ports - this is going to take a very intact, almost pristine area and turn it into a very cut-up, damaged, degraded area of the Territory," he said. Dr Blanch says Chief Minister Paul Henderson needs to clarify the Government's position on the area. "One one hand you have Kon Vatskalis, the Mines Minister, running around China trying to find money for major iron ore projects," he said. "On the other hand we have Karl Hampton, the Environment Minister, moving toward declaring the Limmen national park which should prevent major mining on these sensitive sites." Western Desert Resources says it is treating the area as if was already a national park. *ABC

Eagles

The number of eagles killed by turbine blades at one of Australia's largest wind farms is climbing, with a rare juvenile wedge-tailed eagle the 22nd to die at Woolnorth in Tasmania's north-west. The juvenile eagle was the only wedge-tailed bird from the critically endangered Tasmanian sub-species to successfully fledge locally last season, according to Tasmanian Greens MP Paul O'Halloran. 'We must do all that we can to avoid the loss of this critically endangered species from the entire region,'' Mr O'Halloran said. Deaths of wedge-tailed and sea eagles began to rise at Woolnorth after operations began in 2003. The rising number led to wind farm operator, Roaring 40s, testing bird-scaring devices and halting some of the farm's 62 turbines in wind conditions judged more risky for the birds. Tasmanian Environment Minister David O'Byrne said that wind farms made up only a small proportion of overall eagle deaths in the state, compared to shooting, trapping, and collisions with electrical and fencing wires. *Age

Meanwhile the ABC reports that...The Greens have used State Parliament to raise concerns about the death of a wedge-tailed eagle at the Woolnorth wind farm. Braddon MHA Paul O'Halloran says it was the north-west region's only successful fledgling for the entire breeding season. He called on the Environment Minister David O'Byrne to take action. "If no modelling or monitoring is occurring in relation to juvenile eagles in the Woolnorth area, how can you justify your inaction and will you now commit to getting modelling and monitoring underway as a matter of urgency?" Mr O'Byrne has promised to investigate. He says the incident is concerning, given the low number of breeding pairs left. "I will undertake to get further details. It is obviously concerning when any wedge-tailed eagle dies in Tasmania, we acknowledge that," he said. "We will be working assiduously with companies in the renewable energy area to minimise their impact on native populations." *ABC

Porpoises

Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke says porpoises saved his life - by pushing him back to shore after he fell asleep on his surfboard. The veteran actor, 84, told reporters how his ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach, reports The Guardian. "I woke up out of sight of land," he said. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!' "They turned out to be porpoises. And they pushed me all the way to shore." As well as Mary Poppins, Van Dyke's film credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dick Tracy. In recent years he has appeared on screen in Night at the Museum and its 2009 sequel. *Orange.co.uk

Landclearing

Land alleged to have been cleared illegally by grazier Thomas Brinkworth is to be viewed as part of proceedings in the Magistrates Court at Mount Gambier in South Australia. The court heard a comparison of satellite photos from July 2005 and April 2007 showed clearance of swampy paperbark trees and and native grass. It was told there was no approval from the Native Vegetation Council. Up to 140 acres of the Upper South-East is involved. The prosecution told the court there were no eyewitnesses to say how the land was cleared, but they allege Brinkworth allowed the clearing to open the area for pasture. *ABC

Emus

Meet Emma, the 10-month-old emu who thinks she's a dog. Emma has grown up with her best mate Charlie - a real dog - and his habits have worn off on her. Owner Craig West said the bird had been mimicking the dog for months at their home in Woodroffe, Palmerston. "Emma thinks she's a dog," he said. "She was a tiny little thing when we got her and she grew up with Charlie. "Nobody ever told her she wasn't a dog." Being tailless and unable to bark has been a bit of a challenge for the 1.5 m bird, but that hasn't stopped her copying Charlie's behaviour. "She runs around and chases stuff, like he does. She sits down when you tell her to. She fetches things and she plays with Charlie's stuffed toy," Mr West said. "She does everything like our dog - but she doesn't go for a walk on the leash yet." That's not because Emma doesn't want to - her master just hasn't found a leash yet that's big enough for the bird. "I'll get one made up especially for her shortly, then she can come for a walk around the block, together with Charlie and one of our blue-tongue lizards. He's got his own little leash already," he said. "I can't wait to take the three of them for a walk together." Until then, Emma will have to keep playing with Charlie, hoping that one day she'll grow a tail she can wag. *NT News

Kangaroos Released

Seven hand-reared red kangaroos took a four-hour road trip to freedom in the East Kimberley last week. The big reds, which were orphaned as joeys, were en route to the wild after two years in care at the Kangaroo Haven in Kununurra. While red kangaroos are not native to Kununurra, they are often flown to the remote town for access to volunteer carers. It takes 18 months for the joeys to be weaned off milk and each weighs about 20kg when they are old enough to be returned to their native habitat, 330km south of Kununurra near Halls Creek. The young kangaroos are then released at Nicholson Station, about 130km east of Halls Creek near the Northern Territory border, where they are protected against shooting and traffic. Piled into two cars for the four-hour journey home from Kununurra, the animals were as curious as the road users who saw them peering through car windows. Kangaroo Haven volunteer Mandy Watson said permission to release them at Nicholson Station had eased the pressure on carers to find natural homes for them. "All the wallaroos and the agile (wallabies), we've got places to release them, but the reds are really, really hard because they have to go back to that area and to find somewhere that is not near a community or anywhere where they are going to get shot is pretty difficult," she said. Nicholson Station is owned by the Holmes a Court family. *YahooNews



Advocates of a south-west kangaroo processing facility believe the move makes economic sense and would prevent thousands of carcasses rotting across the region each year. Southern Grampians Shire councillor Paul Battista last night asked the council to seek Agriculture Minister Joe Helper's support for the idea. He said Victoria could follow the commercial model used in New South Wales, where tags are issues for shooters after an assessment of kangaroo numbers by parks and wildlife staff. The council supported a local processing site when the issue was last debated in mid-2008, though the state government rejected the idea. Port Fairy resident Peter Riddle, a licensed shooter who culls kangaroos on a property near Cavendish, is pursuing the plan with Hamilton-based Tesbury Meats. "Every state in Australia has a kangaroo industry but Victoria," he said. Between 70,000 and 100,000 kangaroos are killed on private Victorian land each year. ADVOCATES of a south-west kangaroo processing facility believe the move makes economic sense and would prevent thousands of carcasses rotting across the region each year. Southern Grampians Shire councillor Paul Battista last night asked the council to seek Agriculture Minister Joe Helper's support for the idea. He said Victoria could follow the commercial model used in New South Wales, where tags are issues for shooters after an assessment of kangaroo numbers by parks and wildlife staff. The council supported a local processing site when the issue was last debated in mid-2008, though the state government rejected the idea. Port Fairy resident Peter Riddle, a licensed shooter who culls kangaroos on a property near Cavendish, is pursuing the plan with Hamilton-based Tesbury Meats. "Every state in Australia has a kangaroo industry but Victoria," he said. Between 70,000 and 100,000 kangaroos are killed on private Victorian land each year. *Warnammbool Standard

Ed Comment, Many of us have wriiten to the Council, their email addy is council@sthgrampians.vic.gov.au for those who havent written yet.

New Kangaroo Petition http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/stop-kangaroo-meatworks/

New Facebook Cause http://www.causes.com/causes/546957-stop-kangaroo-slaughter-and-meatworks-in-australia?m=208cad6c&recruiter_id=18921072



A wildlife park operator in the Grampians says the local kangaroo population is not big enough to warrant an increase in hunting. The Southern Grampians Shire will ask the Victorian Government to increase the amount of kangaroo meat shooters can take from private property. The current limit is 80 kilograms. Pam Turner runs a wildlife shelter and says the kangaroo population needs to be protected. "Somebody once said to me that it's a poor farm that can't sustain a few kangaroos ... I'm living here on a working farm, I'm in a position to see the impact of kangaroos on the land and I would dispute that they're in the proportions mentioned by those that want this to happen," she said. *ABC


Kangaroos are being trapped and killed on Red Hill by barbed wire fencing designed to ''protect gum trees from vehicles'', a Deakin resident says. Rosemary Matley says fencing installed at the site earlier this year was too high for kangaroos to jump over and many were becoming entangled in its wires. She has seen a joey hanging dead and recently took this photo of a large, ''terrified'' kangaroo whose feet had been caught. ''It was in absolute agony,'' Mrs Matley said. ''I called the ranger and I don't know the fate of the kangaroo but when I came back the next morning the fence was cut and bloodied.' ''Every time I walk up there some poor kangaroo is bashing into the fence because it can't jump over the top.'' For more on this story, including details of a letter Mrs Matley received in response to her own raising the concerns with Jon Stanhope, see the print edition of today's Canberra Times. *Canberra Times

New Insects in Amber

A team of researchers is unlocking 50million-year-old secrets as they examine one of the largest ever amber finds. Together with Indian and US colleagues, researchers from the University of Bonn have been examining amber finds from northwest India for two years. Meanwhile, it turns out that this may be one of the largest amber finds ever worldwide. The insects trapped in the fossil resin cast a new light on the history of India; it seems that it did not drift over the Earth's oceans in isolation for as long as has been assumed so far. The quality of the find is also causing great excitement. Normally what can be seen in the ancient tree resin is almost always just a paper-thin fa├žade. If sliced down the middle, you would find no more than a hollow space covered in some sort of ‘insect photo wallpaper'. But this does not apply to the amber Bonn paleontologist Professor Dr. Jes Rust and his colleagues have been looking at for two years. The lumps that resemble herbal cough drops are full of many insect bodies, some of which are extremely well preserved, despite the fact that they have been there for 50 million years. Better yet: The petrified resin is also very easily convinced to release its contents again. *Wildlife Extra Read more http://www.wildlifeextra.com.au/go/news/india-amber.html#cr

Animals Used in Research

The latest national statistics for the use of animals in research have been collated, but with so many 'loopholes' in states' reporting, it is difficult to portray an accurate picture of how many animals are actually used in experiments in this country. According to the latest figures obtained by Humane Research Australia, the number of animals used during 2008 was 5,116,787; however, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory figures have not been made available. Therefore, using the last available figures from those states (589,047 in 2004 for Qld and 1,049,379 in 2007 for WA), this would bring the total number of animals used to more than 6.7 million. The figure includes 445 primates and 5,672 dogs, as well as native animals, fish, stock animals and poultry, in addition to those commonly associated with laboratory use - rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs.

The procedures ranged from 'Observational studies involving minor interference' to 'Major physiological challenge', 'Production of genetically modified animals' and 'Death as an end point'. New South Wales and Victoria have recorded the highest numbers used - 3,261,386 and 1,216,393 respectively. A full breakdown of the figures is available at www.aahr.org.au/statistics.html Chief Executive Officer, Helen Marston, said today "It's disappointing that Western Australia and Queensland no longer provide their state statistics and one can only wonder what they have to hide." "If, as stated by the WA Minister for Local Government, collation of data is too 'resource intensive', then perhaps they should reconsider issuing licenses to experiment in the first place." The extrapolation of data from animals to humans can be dangerously misleading due to anatomic, genetic and metabolic differences. It is therefore not the most efficacious method of medical research. Australia should be investing in the development and validation of more humane and scientifically valid research methods - as occurs in Europe and the United States. Ms Marston concluded "Australia has a notorious record of using large numbers of animals in experiments compared with other nations, but rather than commit to reducing the number used, some states seem to have opted to conceal the figures instead." *Animals Australia Media Release

Message from a Carer...I'm out of here!

Today I handed over to DERM officers a 70gram baby as a C3 bat, the bat (in my opinion) was a healthy baby, hungry and frightened. The person who brought it to me (the husband) told me they had picked it up Saturday morning, he brought it to me at 5pm Sunday evening, and he said they had given it some milk and water. On Sunday afternoon, I gather, the young son got bitten by the bat, the boy was poking at the bat when the father wasn’t watching, the bite from the 70 gram almost toothless baby bat did not break the skin, (according to the father) but the boy yelled and the mother went ape, racing the boy to hospital, she had been told (by her swimming instructor) that “a” child had been bitten and died, and so the panic.

Why did they kept the bat for two days, I don’t know. Why did they not realize/care that it was a baby frightened, hungry and cold It was hanging on a cane basket inside a big cardboard carton (that’s how it was delivered to me) nothing to cling to. The husband brought the bat to me while his wife was having a panic attack at the hospital, someone told him too, he said. I told XXXX from Health when she rang this morning that I believed the bat was healthy, she said that was not what the doctors at the hospital said and from what she understood from them, it had all the earmarks of a sick bat. So perhaps this 70gram hungry frightened weak little baby viciously attacked her poor little son, I don’t know. Who knows what this women said to the doctors, they certainly didn’t see the bat and if the father said the bite did not break the skin what is going on here.

Two rangers came to pick it up duly gloved and protected it seems they expected an aggressive attack bat not the 70 gram baby I gave them. I handed it over after ensuring he had enough valium in his milk to sedate, maybe kill him. Does this story sound familiar, how many times have you heard it or similar This whole episode has affected me quiet badly and I have been blubbering on and off all day, much to the consternation of those working with me. And you know what folks....... I can’t do this anymore, I can’t cope with the stupidity, the cruelty and the lack of interest in the welfare of carers by DERM or Health, by politicians, by the general public and the constant ongoing attacks on flying-fox in this area. This will be my will be my last year as a carer......19 years in all....thats enough...*

Possums

Melbourne's parks and gardens are being prepared for battle over the city's pesky possums. In one corner are the furry marsupials and their vocal defenders. In the other is Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, who is threatening to unleash a blitzkrieg of predators - powerful owls. Never mind that possums are a protected species, Cr Doyle yesterday declared war on the "exploding" population of "vermin". "They drive me mad," he told 3AW. "I know they're protected, (but) to me they're vermin. I come out of my house in South Melbourne and I'm virtually waist deep in possum poo." Cr Doyle believes he has found the answer to the problem in the form of Australia's largest owl. In a trial to begin early next year, nesting boxes designed to attract powerful owls will be placed in Royal Park in Parkville, and the Fitzroy and Flagstaff gardens in the city.

Banned by law from "culling" possums, Cr Doyle said he wanted to use nature to help banish his pet hate. "They are not protected from the powerful owl," Cr Doyle said. The latest figures from the City of Melbourne's annual possum surveys show the Carlton Gardens have the highest estimated populations (194), followed by Fitzroy Gardens (185) and Yarra Park (111), with the common brushtail possum the most prevalent. Rheya Linden from Animal Active branded the Mayor "ignorant". "Possums are fully protected native wildlife. They are native species," she said. "Instead of trying to create an artificial predator-prey relationship, wouldn't it be better thinking to actually introduce more native trees? "One of the problems is that councils like his have really disrupted the inner-city habitat for native wildlife considerably by introducing a European type of garden setting. That's where our problems began. "Possums don't do too much damage at all to native trees." *HeraldSun

Whales

The world's biggest marine mammals are delighting tourists and whale trackers this spring as they stop in Tasmanian waters on their way to Antarctica to feed on krill. The significant rebound in the number of humpback and southern right whales has also buoyed hopes whale watching will become a Tasmanian tourism drawcard. One tour boat skipper expects to notch up 100 humpback sightings by December. "November is the peak time for whale watching and this year has been absolutely fantastic," MV Attitude skipper Craig Parsey said yesterday. "We saw 44 in the last two weeks and hope to have spotted well over 100 humpback whales before December." MV Attitude is operated by Sealife Experience Tasmania, which runs Tasman Wild and Rugged Cruises each day from Eaglehawk Neck and Port Arthur. Tour guide Ange Anderson took these photographs during a recent trip in rough conditions off the southern tip of Tasman Island, looking towards Cape Raoul.

Mr Parsey said many of the whales were keen to interact with humans. "We stop 100m away, turn everything off and nine times out of the 10 the whales will come over," he said. The humpback whale is listed as a vulnerable species and the southern right is still listed as endangered. Department of Primary Industries, Water, Parks and Environment biologist Kris Carlyon said records showed 80 southern right whales and 45 humpback whales had been sighted in Tasmanian waters since May. "The whales are using Tasmania's sheltered waters for rest and recreation and they head down into the Southern Ocean and Antarctica to feed," Mr Carlyon said. "The sightings might not all be individual whales but numbers appear to be rebounding with more and more sightings every year." Mr Carlyon said humpback numbers had increased substantially since Hobart's whaling industry declined in the 1850s. The southern right was also rebounding but not as quickly.

The whales swim through Bass Strait before heading down the East Coast and out towards the Southern Ocean. "Some travel down the West Coast, too, but there is not the human population out on the water there to spot them," Mr Carlyon said. "They are an amazing sight but there are guidelines to follow and these can be found on our website." The whale resurgence has coincided with a push by the Greens to declare Tasmania's coast a whale sanctuary. In August, a southern right whale gave birth in the River Derwent off Taroona. It was believed to be the first birth in the Derwent since 1820. Whale experts have predicted that the southern right, which was almost hunted to extinction in the 1840s, could come back to levels where Hobart residents would again regularly hear it blowing and socialising in the Derwent within a decade. The tourism industry is hoping today's fascination with watching whales, rather than killing them for their oil and bones, will open up new eco-tourism opportunities. *Mercury

Gliders

More than one life may be saved if a mystery woman and her helper can provide some all-important information. A woman travelling east to Port Macquarie stopped on the Oxley Hwy and scooped a native animal off the road last Thursday. A passing male motorist helped her to put the marsupial in a cardboard box which she dropped off at the Long Flat Shop, 80kms west of Port Macquarie. The greater glider was then passed into the care of volunteer organisation For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid (FAWNA). FAWNA carer Debbie Wilton said it is vital the wildlife rescue group learn where the glider was found because it has a particularly small habitat area. “She has also recently had a baby so it is really important we return her because it may be still alive in a tree hollow and waiting for mum to come back,” Mrs Wilton said.

Greater gliders feed exclusively on eucalyptus leaves, buds, flowers and mistletoe and also will only eat the plants in their range – which might be as small as one hectare. It is the largest gliding possum in Australia and has a long bushy tail. The glider was dehydrated, grazed and covered in maggots when found. “She is really gentle and placid. She sat on my lap like a cat and just let me clean her,” Mrs Wilton said. FAWNA carers have a licence to rehabilitate wildlife and it is a requirement that animals in their care are released back into the environment. Now rehydrated and eating well, the greater glider is on the road to recovery. Carers will continue watching her to see if an old leg injury inhibits her ability to climb, but if all is well she soon will be returned to her home – if it becomes known where home is. Long Flat Shop owner Wayne Bell said the glider’s saviour was tall with reddish hair and, on the day, was wearing a black dress. Anyone who may have any information is asked to contact Mrs Wilton 0427 667 166. *Port Macquarie News

Interesting Web Sites.

For those who love hedgehogs, and plenty of people do. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society website is a simple but effective site for kids who love hedgehogs. With plenty of information on the spiky critters, a colouring-in project to download, and a gallery of children’s drawings to look at, this site is a good bet for younger children.

http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/


The Australian Wildlife Health Network (AWHN) is an initiative of the Australian Government and is managed under the Wildlife Exotic Disease Preparedness Program. Its mission is to promote and facilitate collaborative links across Australia in the investigation and management of wildlife health in support of human and animal health, biodiversity and trade.

http://www.wildlifehealth.org.au

OZARK is the Australian Wildlife Carer's Network. It is a vital communication link enabling wildlife carers from a wide range of areas and experience, to learn from one another, to discuss pertinent issues and to be part of a non-political supportive community of fellow wildlife workers and carers.

http://www.ozarkwild.org/