Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wildlife Bytes Australia 19/1/11


We have been amazed at the number people who care enough about wildlife to donate to our Wildlife Flood Appeal. Thank you all very, very, much, you are all wonderful people indeed. Donations have come in from far and wide, (lots from the US) and we are now contacting groups working in the flood affected areas. Funds will be sent to them this week to help with fuel and food for the flood affected wildlife. Funds are still coming into the Appeal, so we will be able to send them some more funds later on, as the water subsides, and more flood affected wildlife are found.

There is no doubt the Queensland floods will have an enormous impact on a large number of native species. Those that have survived will be short on food, and even shorter on habitat. Echidnas, bettongs, bandicoots, wallabies, kangaroos, water birds, fish, freshwater turtles, flying foxes, dingoes, and many other species have been heavily impacted. When the floodwaters finally all subside, we will really know how bad the impact has been. As well, marine species in Moreton Bay will have been affected too, (see story below) and along the Gt Barrier Reef Marine Park, especially around the Central Queensland Coast. Much of the Central Qld floodwater is contaminated with manure from farms and feedlots, and farm and industrial chemicals.

We've also had another dingo incident on Fraser Island and another dingo will be killed because it was starving, and harassed a tourist. We've said it before many times, and we say it again, the Fraser Island Dingo Mangement Plan is the greatest wildlife management blunder ever committed in Queensland.


The Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc. is collecting funds to offer a reward for information leading to a prosecution or conviction of the person or persons responsible for running down and killing kangaroos in the grounds of Morriset Hospital, near Newcastle. All donations made in Australia are tax deductible if made out to AWPC Public Fund or just AWPC donation. Post your cheque/money order to Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc. C/- Maryland Wilson, President, 1098 Stumpy Gully Rd Moorooduc 3933 Victoria. A tax-deductable receipt can be sent to you. OR Make a deposit straight into AWPC’s account at your local Commonwealth Bank branch: BSB 063535, Account 10090791 Please include your name and purpose as reference when making a deposit. Eg. Freda Bloggs, Morisset Reward. Also, email Maryland Wilson, kangaroo@ hotkey.net.au and leave your name and address so a receipt can be sent to you. *AWPC

Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc has set up a Donation Fund, where people who wish to donate to help flood-affected wildlife can do just that. Any moneys donated to this Fund will only be provided to non government funded wildlife carers groups or individuals who are actively working on helping wildlife flood victims, orphaned or injured. Funding will be provided to wildlife carers for fuel to get into the flood affected areas, and for wildlife food, over the next months. We know who these carers are, and where they are, and we'd like to help them too, so if you would like to help the wildlife flood victims you can donate here, tax-deductible within Australia. WPAA has kick-started the Fund with $500. Donate here..... http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/floodwildlife.html

QWRC has also set up a trust fund to receive donations for wildlife carers affected by floods. Donations can be made to the wildlife disaster relief fund by direct deposit to the QWRC Trust Fund account BSB 814-282 and account number 30932248 and QWRC ask that people please use their surname as a reference. They will ensure all funds are distributed where they are most needed.

Floods and Wildlife

Just as Queensland is cleaning up after the floods, and as the water slowly subsides, towns in Victoria are flooding. Echuca and Horsham are set to be hit by their worst floods in 100 years as Victoria deals with unprecedented conditions. The swollen Campaspe River could flood up to 100 Echuca properties when it peaks tonight. Hundreds of businesses and homes could be flooded in Horsham on Monday and Tuesday when the Wimmera River near the town peaks at midday on Monday. The situation with Queenslands wildlife is expected to be grim, but is still far from clear. There is no doubt we have lost many animals. We heard a report of an echidna being rescued from a tree in Central Queensland, in Brisbane hundreds of flying fox babies are in care, and wildlife carers are having trouble getting fruit and milk for the orphans. Phone, roads, email, and postal contacts are not good across Queensland, so its still hard to tell just how bad the situation is.......but it appears to be pretty bad! The good news is that our WPAA Appeal for funds for the wildlife carers has been heard around the World, and we are now in the process of trying to contact those wildlife carers in the flood affected areas to see how we can help them. Those caring people who have donated to the Appeal would have received a Paypal receipt, but eventually we will send WPAA receipts to everyone who donates. To donate go here http://www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/floodwildlife.html

Dead Birds and Fish

In the last 2 months, 22 instances of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of dead birds and fish have been recorded worldwide. There have been many speculations about the cause of death, and autopsies apppear to have found nothing untoward. Some local wildlife carers are telling us they are getting more birds into care than ever before.....
Read more http://www.naturalnews.com/030985_mysterious_deaths_birds.html
and here http://www.naturalnews.com/030996_bird_deaths_pole_shift.html

Climate Change

Australian Conservation Foundation President Ian Lowe has expressed his concern for those affected by severe recent flooding in Queensland and says the “floods are another reminder of what climate science has been telling us for 25 years. As well as a general warming and increasing sea levels, it predicted more frequent extreme events: floods, droughts, heatwaves and severe bushfires.” Although he notes that, “It is still too early to say with certainty that climate change is responsible for the strong El Nino event which brought devastating drought to eastern Australia and the equally strong La Nina event which has produced the terrible floods,” Professor Lowe warns, “If we don’t want to see more events like the 2009 Victorian bushfires and the floods now happening, we need a concerted program of action to reduce greenhouse pollution.” * Econews


A Victorian State department has upheld its decision to issue a permit allowing 300 kangaroos to be culled in Eden Park. Wildlife protection groups and local residents have written to the Department of Sustainability and Environment requesting that the control wildlife permit be overturned. The permit - as reported by the Leader last month - is for the Northern Lodge Stud, which is managed by the Northern Metropolitan Institute of TAFE (NMIT). The DSE’s group manager for biodiversity services, Mark Winfield, said a review of the whole process was done in the wake of the public backlash. But he confirmed last week that the original decision would stand. Animal Active spokeswoman Rheya Linden said there were less destructive ways for NMIT to protect its land. “What the DSE have issued is very sneaky. NMIT have been granted a 12-month permit, when they’re usually three-month permits”, Ms Linden said. “Two-metre kangaroo proof fencing would be much more practical. Locals believe they’ve already started (culling kangaroos).” Ms Linden said that Animal Active protesters would not hesitate to protest at Eden Park in a bid to stop the cull. NMIT didn’t respond to the Leader’s inquiries before deadline. * Leader

Ed Comment; Local wildlife groups believe there may be a connection here to a proposal by the new Victorian Coalition Government to set up a kangaroo Industry in Victoria. Local groups are looking at the possibility of taking legal action, and more protests are likely.*

The National Parks and Wildlife service wants people on the New South Wales far south coast to get tough with kangaroos. There have been a number of reports of people and domestic dogs being attacked by the animals at Pambula Beach. The Park Service's area manager, Stephen Dovey, says the hungry kangaroos are coming into backyards looking for food after being displaced at a nearby busy caravan park. He says it is important that people discourage the animals from staying in built-up areas. "We have had reports of dogs being attacked and we have had reports of people being attacked as well when they have approached large kangaroos," Mr Dovey said. "This is especially the case with the alpha males which are trying to set up a territory for their harem. "Don't allow kangaroos in your backyard so just discourage them from settling in their by running a cold hose on them or don't leave any feed out." *ABC


A samuraI sword or machete may have been used to behead a wallaby in another brutal mutilation of an animal on the Coffs Coast. Authorities are investigating the continuing disturbing mutilation of kangaroos in the area. The most recent this week saw a wallaby cruelly killed and dumped at Emerald Heights. RSPCA and National Parks and Wildlife rangers believed a samurai sword or machete was used to behead the animal. It’s the third attack of its kind on kangaroos and wallabies at Emerald Heights and follows similar incidents in the past at Safety Beach. Those investigating the crimes are completely stumped why anyone would want to harm a placid animal in such a way. “This is extremely troubled behaviour and not the first attack we’ve seen on kangaroos or wallabies in the area,” RSPCA regional inspector Andrew Kelly said. “What is most concerning is the motivation behind these attacks.

Mr Kelly said police have been informed and investigations are continuing. By alerting the public to the sickening attacks, rangers hope the public provide information identifying who’s responsible. “We can’t work out why the bodies of the animals are always found, but not the heads,” Coffs Harbour NPWS ranger Ann Walton said. “We thought maybe that fishermen were responsible, using the heads in crab pots, but anglers we have spoken to have said most likely fishermen would use the whole animal, so we just don’t know why someone would do this." If prosecuted, the offender or offenders face considerable penalties. Aside from police charges for using prohibited weapons to harm animals, the culprits face prosecution by the RSPCA for animal cruelty. This offence carries a maximum $10,000 fine and five years imprisonment, while the National Parks and Wildlife Service has its own offence of causing harm to a protected species. Anyone who has information surrounding these sickening attacks is urged to call the RSPCA hotline on 1300CRUELTY. Coffs Coast Advocate


Pobblebonk. It might resemble a name from a Harry Potter story, but this slippery, bubble-eyed and wide-mouthed little fella lives closer to home, in burrows, creeks and swamps from Aspendale Gardens through Mernda to Yarra Glen. Chances are you've heard his distinctive call - from which he gets his other, less-onomatopoetic name, the eastern banjo frog. It's a single wet-sounding plunk like a note struck on a slack-tuned banjo. In chorus with an army of his fellows, he seems to be repeating that first, more evocative name. And from this weekend Melbourne Water's Healthy Waterways program is hoping to hear more from him and at least 13 other varieties of Melbourne amphibians through its annual frog census, in which volunteers record frog calls at their local rivers, creeks and wetlands.

Project adviser Rohan Long says they're hoping to hear MP3s of, say, the cree-cree-cree of the southern brown tree frog; the low, repeated squeak of the southern toadlet; the purring, click of the painted burrowing frog and, particularly, the hoarse rasp of Victoria's most endangered species, the growling grass frog. The census aims to monitor frog populations across the Westernport and Port Phillip regions, by having people make digital recordings - often using mobile phones - in areas where they've heard frog calls before. The calls are verified and identified by an ecologist and the results included in the Department of Sustainability and Environment's Victorian wildlife atlas. Melbourne Water has launched a frog census website where people can listen to local frog calls and learn which frogs live in their area and how to get involved.

''There are two reasons for the survey,'' says Mr Long. ''First, is to get the community connected to the animals living in their waterways; and the other is for us to measure the health of those waterways.'' It's often said that frog populations are a barometer of environmental health, he says. ''At the most basic level, if you have unhealthy waterways you don't have frogs and if you do have healthy waterways you do get frogs. Amphibians are a particularly good indication of water health because they breathe through their skin and if there's anything in the water that's going to be bad for them they take it right into their bodies.''

Amphibian populations have been in decline for more than a decade, partly due to a strange fungus called chrytid which clogs the pores, preventing frogs breathing through their skin and which is a factor in the loss of about 170 frog species. ''But just as culpable is land use by the population,'' says Mr Long. ''We're expanding Melbourne into the nice grassy and swampy areas that frogs like to live in.'' Despite the decline, Melbourne's frogs seem to be doing relatively well, he says. ''I'm always surprised at the number of frogs people send in, the different places where they hear them and the diversity we get here. I guess Melbourne's a fairly green town: we've got a lot of waterways, a lot of places for frogs to hang out.

''The negative is that people like to hang out in the same places. We like water, we like green and sometimes we can take over the habitat of the frogs. Sometimes we displace them and sometimes we don't.'' It is too early to tell, but the past wet year may have been a boon for frogs, many species of which postpone breeding during dry spells. But why should we care? ''Well, they eat mozzies and bugs. They're part of the greater scheme of things keeping our rivers ticking over and healthy. But there is an aesthetic aspect as well, I think people just like frogs, they like hearing them.'' *Age frogs.melbournewater.com.au/

Moreton Bay Flood Impacts

Thousands of fish are dying as the floodwaters enter Moreton Bay. The huge plume of muddy water is spreading across the bay and starting to damage the seagrass beds. All beaches on the Redcliffe Peninsula have been shut due to dead fish and debris washing ashore. Moreton Bay Regional Councillor James Houghton told the ABC: "We've had several thousand fish wash on the beaches and some of those have been even freshwater fish, so that looks like they've come from Somerset or Wivenhoe Dam even further up the river. "We've already had the result of some testing back and the result is that that's been caused by so much freshwater in dealing with saltwater varieties and also turbidity in the water." Peter Schneider, The Healthy Waterways CEO told the ABC that the flood will have a major impact. Dr Peter Schneider says the full impact might not be known for months.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said HMAS Huon will arrive in Brisbane tonight and will patrol the waters in Moreton Bay for debris. "Together with two of our hydrological survey ships, it will start a survey of Brisbane River in the area close to the Port of Brisbane, to ensure that the waterway itself is clear from underwater obstructions," he said. Cairns based Royal Australian Navy Survey Ships HMAS Shepparton and HMAS Paluma departed Cairns in the early hours of Saturday morning to proceed at best speed towards Moreton Bay and Brisbane. Expected to arrive on Tuesday, the ships will meet up with Sydney-based mine hunter, HMAS Huon to help with efforts to re-open the shipping channel to deep-draught commercial vessels. Shepparton and Paluma are equipped with some of the most advanced survey technology, and are ideally suited to this type of hydrographic survey work.

Proving the main shipping channel clear of obstructions from the floods ultimately allows the recovery effort to proceed faster, rebuilding to accelerate, and restores vital economic activity for all of Queensland. As the flood waters travel at speed, they have the ability to transport great volumes and larger sizes of sediment, gravels, rocks and other debris. As the waters enter the wider expanses of Moreton Bay, the speed of the water decreases, and the greatest majority of the sediments will precipitate out of the flood waters. This has the potential to create blockages of the shipping channel - although the extent of this is currently unknown. "I have a great sense of pride in being able to help our fellow Queenslanders, and hope that our efforts, as a small part of the help being provided by the ADF, other Queenslanders, and Australians in general, will help Brisbane and SE Queensland with the task of re-building", said Lieutenant Commander Adam Muckalt Commanding Officer, HMAS Shepparton.

Leading Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Kelly Denner added: "I am proud to assist and provide ongoing support to the people of SE Queensland throughout this natural disaster". Seaman Marine Technician Nick Cook said "When I was told that we were deploying to help with the flood relief I couldn't wait to start helping out with the clean-up effort, and I will be extremely proud to be wearing uniform whilst doing so." "We may see coral die back in the eastern side of the bay," he said. "We may then see the sea grasses die back - it's probably a fair bet to say that we'll see some algal blooms occurring in a fairly widespread fashion across the bay - there'll be a number of things happening." Dr Schneider says they are expecting an increase in the number of animals killed by eating or getting caught in rubbish.

Queensland Conservation Council chairman Simon Baltais that the bay looked like a war zone. Mr Baltais said under normal conditions, wildlife had evolved to recover from such large-scale natural events. "But they are already stressed from pollution and over-development," he said. Although the seagrass beds nearest the mainland, along which dugong graze, will be damaged, reports from Moreton Island's Tangalooma Resort director Trevor Hassard told the Courier Mail that the eastern side of the bay remained relatively clear. A worry is that if the seagrass beds are not cared for they will die and with them the Moreton Bay dugong herds. Mr Baltais said no timeframe had been set for an inspection and clean-up, but it probably should include the Navy. "We're in the hands of the recovery taskforce," he said.

"We don't want to compromise activities and plans that are already being put in place." Mr Baltais said until the array of material such as sunken boats, refuse and construction material was removed, the bay would remain dangerous for boats. The toxic heavy metals now in the water represent one of three main threats to the ecosystem in the wake of the disaster. Sediment washed off the Lockyer Valley and sewage that has mixed with river water could also cause damage, according to Queensland Conservation Council executive director Toby Hutcheon. “This is a major issue and it’s something the government should assess in the coming months once this all settles down,” he told the Brisbane Times. “Anything and everything could have been washed down in the flood.”

Fish species could also be at risk from algal bloom, with the high nitrogen content in sewerage making it a distinct possibility, particularly if there is a spell of warm weather in coming weeks. So unexpected were the force and magnitude of the flooding that little could have been done to prevent the contamination of the water, according to Mr Hutcheon. And just as it was nature that caused the devastation, it will be nature that mends it and Mr Hutcheon said there was nothing we could do to reverse the damage. “It’s up to nature to heal itself,” he said. “The reality with sediment is to make sure it is captured before it gets into the bay. But there was very little we could do on this occasion.” *Bay Journal


The dingo that attacked a Korean tourist on Fraser Island at the weekend will be killed if it can be identified. The incident early on Sunday morning saw the 41-year-old tourist bitten on the leg, hand and forearm by a dingo on 75 Mile Beach at Eurong. The woman and her friend had been surrounded by a pack of five dingoes when one lunged forward, attacking her. DERM's Regional Manager Ross Belcher said the behaviour of the dingo had posed a clear threat to the safety of visitors and the local community. “If the dingo is positively identified, it will have to be put down to protect public safety,” he said. “Through the introduction of the Dingo Management Strategy the number of dingoes having to be destroyed as a result of dangerous behaviour has decreased from as many as 14 in 2002 to five in 2010. “This incident serves as an ongoing reminder of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of dingoes on Fraser. They are wild animals and need to be treated as such.”

As rangers tried to identify the dingo yesterday politicians and wildlife lobby groups seized on the incident to attack DERM's current dingo management policy. State Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen said Fraser Island was a major tourist attraction and people had the right to be safe from these attacks. “DERM's dingo strategy has never been peer-reviewed and problems identified by the island's visitors and residents have simply been ignored,” he said. Malcom Kilpatrick from Save Fraser Island Dingoes said the bottom line was that the management strategy “had some good points, but it did have problems and they needed to be fixed now”. “If it was the alpha male leader of the pack that attacked the tourist and it is chased down and shot you can just about say goodbye to the other members of the pack because they won't survive without their leader. “That means five dingoes may die because of this one incident and that is a tragedy,” Mr Kilpatrick said. *Fraser Coast Chronicle