Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wildlife Bytes 10/8/11

Leading Stories

Moves to vastly increase the export of kangaroo meat to China and Russia have provoked strong opposition from conservationists and sections of the indigenous community. A new indigenous animal liberation organisation is threatening to take the government to the Federal Court to stop the proposed new exports, expected to greatly expand the $200 million industry. The federal government had been working for some time to resume the export of kangaroo meat to Russia, a spokesperson for the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, said. Dr Emerson was in China last week and is understood to have discussed with officials the prospects for opening the Chinese market to kangaroo products for the first time. Mark Pearson, the director of Animal Liberation, is backing a recently formed indigenous organisation, the Australian Alliance for Native Animal Survival, in mounting a Federal Court challenge to the proposed new exports. He said Animal Liberation objected to the commercial harvesting of kangaroos on the grounds of hygiene, inhumanity and sustainability.

Robert Craigie, the president of the alliance, said his organisation had been in touch with Aborigines across Australia. ''We have harvested animals but we have only ever taken what we needed,'' he said. ''We are not into mass slaughter. 'Before they even contemplate giving licences to anyone to kill our wildlife, they should consult the Aboriginal people.'' Mr Craigie wrote letters last month to Hu Jintao, the president of the People's Republic of China, and to his counterparts in the Russian Federation and European Union. He stressed the spiritual link of Australia's first peoples with the bundarrs (kangaroos) which were his people's spiritual ancestors, which had sustained them and connected the Aboriginal people with religion and laws. So far, no president had replied. John Kelly, the executive officer of the Kangaroo Industry Association, said slaughtering kangaroos had been cleared by the RSPCA and the controlled culling had been supported by renowned ecologists. Kangaroos had been harvested by the Aborigines for 40,000 years, without any threat to their population. There were more kangaroos now than before white settlement. * Sydney Morning Herald

This story appered in the following rural papers....Queensland Country Life, Farm Weekly, The Land, Stock & Land, North Queensland Register, and most major Capital papers.

Live Export Rally

Rallies in the capital cities to support the upcoming federal Bills to end live export are fast approaching – Sunday 14 August 2011. Any assistance that you can give by way of advising your members, colleagues, friends and family would be really important and appreciated. Information on the rallies is available on the joint Animals Australia and RSPCA Australia campaign website - http://www.banliveexport.com/rally/ and you can see what is happening in each of the main cities. You can also access ready-made promotion materials here - see http://animalsaustralia.org/features/live-export-rally.php There is a printable flyer if that would assist you to spread the word. The rallies are timed to raise awareness and engender support for the two pieces of legislation (Wilkie/Xenophon Bill, and a Greens Bill) to ban live export. The vote is likely to be on the 18th August, thus the rallies on Sunday the 14th in each major capital city. Speakers and exact times and locations are on the website for you. To provide for those people who may not be able to join a rally – here is a link to AA website tools to enable people to easily contact their local Federal MP to ensure they are aware of their constituents’ concerns about the cruel live export trade. http://banliveexport.com/where-does-your-MP-stand/ And of course they should do both!! There are more resources to assist those who may even seek a meeting with their MP – see the ‘toolkit’ http://banliveexport.com/where-does-your-MP-stand/live-export-lobbying-toolkit.pdf Animals Austalia

NMIT Protest

Activists continue to take a stand outside NMIT's Eden Park campus, protesting against the institute's permit to cull 300 kangaroos on campus grounds. The permit expires in October and the institute will need to apply to the Department of Sustainability if it wishes to continue the cull. Fiona Corke (pictured far left with Lisa Re) said the group would continue to picket outside the Eden Park campus. "We'll maintain the vigil for as long as it takes," she said. *Northern Weekly


Good news for the World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park......Energy Resources of Australia last week reported that a five-month shutdown because of the record wet season had led to the mine losing more than $120 million in the first six months of this year. It also revealed that plans to build a heap leach plant at a cost of several hundred million dollarshad been scrapped. *WPAA


A wild koala received its first dose of radiation therapy in Albany Creek today to treat a rare case of excessive drooling. Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital veterinarian Dr Amber Gillett said Sprinkles the koala suffered from severe skin infections and was in desperate need of treatment to improve her quality of life. The koala has been raised at the wildlife hospital since she was admitted as a joey almost a year ago following a car accident which killed her mother. The young koala was handed a life-line by Dr Rod Straw - the founder of the Brisbane Veterinary Specialist Centre at Albany Creek - who provided radiation to reduce the size of Sprinkles salivary glands to halt the flow of saliva from her mouth. Dr Straw said radiation was most commonly used to treat cancer but it had been applied to reduce salivary glands in humans and he hoped Sprinkles would make a full recovery. *Courier Mail
Read more ... http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/north/koala-with-rare-case-of-excessive-drooling-gets-life-saving-radiation-treatment-in-albany-creek/story-fn8m0rl4-1226111903293

Kangaroos in France

Normandy (France) residents have been asked to look out for two kangaroos that are on the loose in the Manche. The pair escaped from a private zoo near Sartilly, between Avranches and Granville yesterday, according to local newspaper La Manche Libre. Nature protection officials from the hunting authority l'Office National de la Chasse are searching the department. One of the kangaroos is albino. If you see them, you should not approach or try to capture them, but instead call the police immediately. *French Connection

Wild Camels Lost?

A Federal Government report in 2009 claimed there were over 1.17 million wild camels in Australia and they had to be "managed". $19 million was set aside to eradicate the million camels over 4 years, but they cant find the camels to shoot, so the cull is on hold. We have no idea what methodology they used to count them, but it appears the counting was very much a "gesstimate".....a bit like the kangaroo counts! * WPAA

Wild Dogs

A group of Victorian researchers hope dingo urine could become a weapon in the fight against wild dog populations. The group aims to detect the distinct scents in the urine that send no-trespassing messages to other dogs, as a non-lethal way of controlling the animals that are classed as pests. The Department of Sustainability and Environment, the body leading the research, says wild dogs cause about $18 million worth of damage to agricultural production in Victoria each year. "We know that dogs mark their territories with urine and that the chemicals in the urine contain messages that other dogs understand," DSE scientist Alan Robley said. "The research aims to isolate those chemicals and work out which odour is responsible for sending the no-trespassing message."
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/animals/urine-could-hold-key-to-wild-dog-control-20110803-1ib80.html#ixzz1U0bsyUfp

Did You Know?

There are four species of flying-fox that you are likely to see in Queensland with another two species living in the Torres Strait Islands and third, the bare-backed fruit-bat Dobsonia moluccensis, that only occurs in northern Cape York. There is also a mystery species, the dusky flying-fox Pteropus brunneus that is only known from one specimen taken from Percy Island off the central coast of Queensland in the 1870s. It has never been seen again and is believed to be extinct. The flying-fox family also includes four other closely-related species of bat. These are the blossom-bats (two species) and the tube-nosed bats, one species in Queensland and one from Moa Island in Torres Strait. *

Dugongs Starving

A report by James Cook Uni has found that dugongs are starving in the Gt Barrier Reef area, due to downstream impacts of Cyclone Yasi. Seagrass beds that dugong feed on have been affected by low turbidity, siltation, and flooding. 97 dugongs have been stranded this year, with only one surviving. 6 dugongs have died from boat or fishing injuries, and an unknown number killed by Indigenous fishers. *WPAA


A possum has been dubbed Chainsaw after surviving a round with a chainsaw along with her tiny joey, Two-Stroke, hidden in its pouch. The possum was asleep and so well camouflaged that workers sent to chop down a tree didn't see it. The chainsaw hit the possum, leaving it seriously injured. Panicked workers rushed Chainsaw to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on the Gold Coast, suffering major internal and external injuries. As staff carefully stitched the possum's internal and external wounds, they found a joey in her pouch, which had also survived the ordeal. Senior vet Michael Pyne will brief the media about the pair's remarkable survival on Friday. *CM

Wildlife Patient of the Week

An echidna named Sonic has been sent to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after being hit by a car at Stanley River in Peachester. X-rays revealed Sonic was suffering from a fractured beak, as well as a swollen foot and a cut on one of his toes. He also had grazes and cuts on his face, as well as several damaged quills. Dr Robyn administered Sonic with pain relief and fluids, and he was kept nice and warm with coloured heat bags. His beak lacerations were cleaned and sutured. Sonic is now in the care of a registered echidna carer, and will remain with her for the next couple of months until he is fully healed and ready to be released back into the wild. AZWH Statistics show that almost 20% of all patients admitted so far this year have been victims of a car hit - please drive carefully! *

Wildlife Trading

Four leopard cubs, a sunbear cub, a marmoset and a baby gibbon: just some of the menagerie found in suitcases at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. Hundreds of protected Indian and Burmese star tortoises, again found in baggage at the airport. A bear farm in Laos, where bear bile was routinely extracted for human health tonics, finally closed down by the authorities. Unregistered leopards found at a rural Thai tiger zoo long suspected of trafficking big cats. A truck in northeastern Thailand found to be carrying five boxes of monitor lizards, 17 boxes of pythons and 84 boxes of rat snakes. Two Vietnamese men arrested for killing 15 langurs in a national park. These events of only the past few months represent a tiny slice of the vast Asian wildlife trade in poaching, smuggling and dealing in protected species and their organs, flesh, bones, skin and scales. The trade is huge, feeding a rapacious appetite for traditional medicines made from endangered species, as well as a hunger for ivory ornaments, wild meat and exotic pets. Late last year, in an unguarded moment, a Vietnamese government official estimated that between 4000 and 4500 tonnes of wildlife were smuggled through Vietnam each year. *Australian
Read More ... http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/from-jungle-to-suitcase-southeast-asias-wildlife-faces-a-bleak-future/story-e6frg6z6-1226108592780

Corellas Shot

Authorities are investigating a spate of shootings that have injured and killed corellas near Little Mountain on teh Sunshine Coast. Wildlife carer Sonja Fenwick took one of the birds to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital after it was found in a backyard by Little Mountain residents. A spokesman from the wildlife hospital said two injured corellas were assessed to reveal their wounds were caused by a slug gun. While one had to be euthanased the other is now recovering with a wildlife carer. The Department of Environment and Resource Management is investigating. Ms Fenwick called on locals to be vigilant of attacks on the protected wildlife. “It is just awful that people are shooting at them,” Ms Fenwick said. If you see injured wildlife you can call the emergency hotline on 1300 369 652.


The Tasmanian Greens yesterday praised the forest agreement's potential to deliver positive conservation outcomes, but warned the proof would be in the pudding. But forestry groups and the Liberal Opposition slammed the agreement and accused Premier Lara Giddings of selling out the timber industry. Greens leader Nick McKim said areas of improvement from the Heads of Agreement of a fortnight ago included the protection of the ENGO nominated 430,000ha until the passage of the reserve legislation through the Tasmanian Parliament, the absence of any commitment to legislate the provision of 265,000 cubic metres of peeler billets, the linking of a further $20 million to the passage of the reserve legislation through the Tasmanian Parliament, and the Federal Government statement that no Commonwealth money would be paid to progress Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill. *Mercury Read more... http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2011/08/08/251581_tasmania-news.html


After a twenty year absence in Willoughby’s (NSW) bushland, lyrebirds are now returning to the area with two sightings reported in Castlecrag and Bicentennial Reserve. One of Australia's best-known native birds, lyrebirds have an extraordinary mimicking ability and males are recognised for their striking long tail feathers. As a result of Willoughby City Council’s designated Wildlife Protection Areas and the successful fox and feral cat control program, Willoughby has seen an increase of wildlife recently, with echidnas, bandicoots, brush-turkeys and wallabies returning to the local bushland to nest and forage. Find out more about lyrebirds and other local wildlife at the Willoughby Fauna Fair on the 21 August at Willoughby Park. Birds Australia, the National Parks Association and council will provide helpful tips on protecting and improving wildlife habitats and there will also be free dog obedience and trick training. Have you spotted a lyrebird in your area? Contact Willoughby City Council on 9777 1000 or email@willoughby.nsw.gov.au

Wolf Hunting

Some of the states of the USA are having big controversies over wolf hunting. Should it be allowed or not? Many conservationist societies are lobbyiing the US government to limit hunts or stop them all together. One such concerned site that you can go to if you would like to voice your opinion, or vote to stop hunting of these magnificent creatures, is Defenders of Wildlife. The talks are divided on who wants to save the wolf and who doesn't. We must speak up to keep this species from becoming extinct. Please take the time to read the material posted on http://action.defenders.org/site/PageServer?pagename=savewolves_homepage or other such organisations that are fighting for wolves to be with us for the long haul. *Warrior Times


Reports have surfaced from North Queensland that Migaloo, the famous white whale, may have died. A white humpback whale has been found dead on Palm Island near Townsville, but Migaloo fans are researchers are hopeful it is not the celebrity whale. It is believed there are up to five white whales migrating up and down the Australian east coast, with most of them calves or juveniles. Migaloo is now a fully grown adult about 25 years old. Oskar Peterson from the White Whale Research Centre was hoping the whale found was not Migaloo but tonight told The Courier Mail it would be easy to establish the authenticity of the reports because Migaloo's DNA is on file at a research centre. *Courier Mail

Rescuers are trying to save a baby humpback whale stranded on Surfers Paradise beach - but they cannot return it to the water until they find its mother. The humpback calf, believed to be only one week old, was discovered floundering in the shorebreak earlier this morning. Rescuers from Sea World and the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol are working to free the beached whale and locate its mother. Rescuers have draped the whale in protective material and are keeping it damp on the beach near Elkhorn Avenue. The Gold Coast Bulletin reports the baby humpback beached itself at Surfers Paradise at about 12.30am, but rescue crews say it can't be returned to the water until its mother is found. A spotter plane is being used to try to locate the mother. A Sea World rescuer said the whale would not survive if returned to the water alone. On Sunday a mother humpback with her baby were seen swimming in the area, but it's not clear yet whether this is the same calf. *Courier Mail Ed Comment; As of this morning, we have not heard that the calf has found it's Mum yet!

A southern right whale has given birth off the far north coast of NSW for the first time in 13 years. The calf, which is believed to be only about a day old, was spotted off Valla Beach by National Parks rangers on Monday morning. "It's a pretty rare event in NSW waters," National Parks ranger and whale expert Geoff Ross told AAP on Monday. "It's the first one we know of in (more than) 12 years." Earlier this year two unusually large southern rights were observed off the coast of Sydney and "undoubtedly one of them would have been the pregnant female", Mr Ross said. "I'm glad I didn't know the female was a pregnant female or I would have felt like an expectant father," he said. Southern rights usually give birth further south around the Great Australian Bight but it is not unheard of for them to calve off the NSW north coast with births even recorded in and around Sydney, Mr Ross said. "What we might be seeing here is a re-exploration of those traditional calving grounds in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania," he said. Mr Ross said rangers could tell the calf was a newborn because it was still creased from its position in the uterus. "We can tell a newly born calf as they have creases on their tail which is folded when it's inside the uterus," Mr Ross said. "This young calf looked all prune-like." Mr Ross said the calf's birth is sign that whale conservation efforts in the area are having a positive impact on the population. "It shows how safe they feel in those protected areas," he said. "It's great to see that they are recovering after such a long period of slaughter." Mr Ross said whale-watchers may be able to spot the pair as they head south and the mother will try to keep her calf close to shore. *AAP

Bilbies Found

A conservation group says bulldozing must stop at the site of a proposed $30 billion gas hub in the Kimberley following the discovery of bilbies in the area. Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard called on on Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to intervene before any of the threatened marsupials are killed near James Price Point. Clearing work is under way at the site, 60km north of Broome, so that geotechnical drilling studies can be carried out for the proposed project, led by Woodside Petroleum. Broome community members captured footage of a bilby in the area at the weekend, and the animals are believed to live in burrows in areas slated for bulldozing, Mr Pritchard said. The Bilby was found outside the proposed gas precinct site but where land clearing permits had been granted for the geotechnical studies, he said. He urged the minister to stop the clearing work and order investigations into the bilby population to make sure the animals are not harmed. "We urge him to use his powers immediately, before the bulldozer kills any endangered animals,” he said. Mr Pritchard said that after environmental studies costing $80 million, Woodside had said there were no resident bilby colonies in the area.

But ecologist Malcolm Lindsay said a survey at the weekend confirmed there was a healthy population of bilbies around the project’s location. “Fresh tracks and multiple burrows were located north of the precinct area and were confirmed as belonging to the greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis) through the use of motion-activated cameras,” he said. “The measurement of track size, number of burrows and locations of fresh tracks suggests that there are a number of bilbies in the area.” Mr Burke is considering his approval for the project through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Mr Lindsay said the most recent fauna survey completed for Woodside was done after a large bushfire and found no evidence of bilbies. “The recent recolonisation of this area by the bilbies demonstrates that the ecological information that Minister Burke is basing his decisions on is inadequate, and further and more exhaustive ecological surveys are needed.” Mr Lindsay said that no bilbies appeared to be within the proposed gas precinct site but there were old burrows there and the animals would be likely to recolonise that area over time. *WA News

Parrot Tourism

Australia should forget beaches and bikini-clad models as tourist drawcards, and promote the country as a land of parrots to rival the Amazon, a leading tourism expert says. Griffith University eco-tourism research centre director Professor Ralf Buckley said Australia was "clueless" about promoting its wildlife to a profitable overseas market for environmental tourism. Global tourism trends show bird watchers are among the worlds highest spending tourists, paying upwards of $10,000 for off-the-track tours led by experts. Professor Buckley said Australia was much safer than some politically volatile and remote South American parrot-watching spots. "We are truly clueless in marketing our wildlife. We should promote our large, brightly coloured birds. Overseas visitors are blown away by the brilliant colours of our parrots," he said. And two of the worlds leading experts on parrots and cockatoos, Canberra residents Joe Forshaw and Denis Saunders, say the ACT should market its birdlife as a major tourist attraction.

Mr Forshaw, the former head of wildlife conservation for the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, is the author of 17 ornithology books including a guide to the worlds parrots. "I've taken parrot tours around the world, and they're a huge attraction. In Peru and Costa Rica, there are entire communities built around parrot tourism," he said. In Canberra, Mr Forshaw has hosted visitors from Europe and the United States who were enthralled by gang-gangs, crimson rosellas, king parrots and flocks of galahs. "We take galahs for granted, but to overseas visitors their colours are remarkable." Dr Saunders, a former CSIRO chief research scientist who identified two new species of West Australian cockatoos, has taken visitors to local parks to see yellow-tailed black cockatoos, eastern rosellas and gang-gangs. More than a dozen parrot species are found in Canberra, and many are on "the life lists", or wish lists, of overseas bird watchers, he said. Mr Forshaw said early maps used by spice traders to the Dutch East Indies showed a southern land mass known as Terra Psittacorum, the Land of Parrots. "Many of the ships brought parrots to take back to Europe, and were told by local merchants of a southern land that was full of parrots. That was Australia." * Canberra Times

Bird Tourism

Bird watchers have been flocking to Minnippi Wetlands at Carina on Brisbane's eastside to see a white-fronted honeyeater, one of the rarest birds seen on the coastal strip. The honeyeater boasts what is described as a "moustache" and is more commonly found in far western NSW, Victoria and sometimes Queensland's distant interior. Birds Queensland spokesman Mike West said yesterday that dozens of bird watchers had gone to the wetlands to try and catch a glimpse of the rare visitor. "You have to shoulder your way in to get a look at it but it hasn't been seen lately so it may have moved somewhere else," Mr West said. "Normally you have to go well out west to see them. It's hard to fathom out why this one was drawn to the coast. "They've not been seen in Brisbane before, that I know of." It's the second rare species to be seen in the southeast during the past two months, with a New Zealand South Island pied oystercatcher in residence at Point Halloran in Redlands, east of Brisbane. "It took me ages to find him," Mr West said. "He's with a flock of about 50 pied oystercatchers. "He's nearly all white under his wings, whereas the other oyster-catchers are black and white. "But he has shorter legs than the locals and if he sits down, you lose him in the crowd."

Bird watchers, or twitchers, aim to see as many birds as possible, although at this time of the year they are more likely to be enjoying the wetland antics of common Australian coots, which are currently in their winter-spring mating period. They are black with red eyes, white beaks and have Frankenstein-looking feet. Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife chief executive Susanna Bradshaw said coots were highly territorial during winter and spring. "They swim menacingly towards any intruders and can fight like champion boxers," she said. "Coots are fascinating to watch, particularly when they run along the surface of the water as they take off. Mating displays are also impressive." Ms Bradshaw said many water birds and marine animals were feeling the pressure as rubbish, chemicals, garden rubbish and run-off entered waterways. Residents could help keep waterways clean by picking up litter, binning cigarette butts, not pouring chemical or household waste into drains and washing cars on grass so cleaners did not run into drains. *Courier Mail

Kangaroo Carcases Found

Decomposed kangaroo carcasses have been discovered by a travelling fisherman on the banks of the Gwydir River, in Yarraman. Fourteen kangaroo carcasses which have had the heads and legs removed were discovered by the man on July 26. “The smell was horrendous,” he said. “There are a bunch of dead roos in a pile on the edge of the bank and a few of them which have fallen into the river. “As soon as I saw them I reported it to the Environment and Heritage Department,” he said. The Environment and Heritage media spokesperson Jackie Roberts was also surprised about the discovery of the kangaroos and believed it was the first reported case of this happening in the past two years in the Moree region. “As soon as we received a complaint we sent someone down from Dubbo to see if the kangaroos had been tagged or could be identified,” Ms Roberts said. “At the Environment and Heritage Department we regulate the commercial harvest of kangaroos and to hear something like this is a big deal to us.”

An employee of the Environment and Heritage Department who visited Moree on July 28, Arthur Snook, believed the carcasses had been there for a little over a week due to the state of some of the kangaroos and the smell that filled the area. “We will continue to investigate this inquiry over the coming weeks,” he said. Moree Plains Shire Mayor Katrina Humphries was “disgusted” by the discovery of the carcasses. “The water in that river flows past families homes,” she said. “Our children swim in that river. “I hope the people who were responsible for this act will be found and prosecuted.” Commercial roo shooting is widespread across NSW. After they kangaroos are shot they have the heads and legs removed and are placed into chillers for collection. Moree Plains Shire ranger Wayne Williams was “disappointed” to hear about the discovery of the kangaroos. “We have discovered a site similar to this before across the other side of the river bank,” he said. “It is just pure laziness and a filthy mess for someone else to clean up,” he said. *Moree Champion

Tree Kangaroos

The Tableland's endangered tree kangaroos will soon have a much bigger playground to move around in. The Wet Tropics Management Authority will today launch a major tree planting project near Millaa Millaa, where about 18,000 trees will be planted over 6ha. The $600,000 project aims to reconnect patchy areas of rainforest on Kim and Brad Eaton’s property along East Evelyn Rd. The former dairy farm has been identified by scientists at James Cook University as a key area for rehabilitation, and will help provide important habitat for animals such as Lumholz tree kangaroos, golden bowerbirds and Herbert River ringtail possums. Already more than 6000 trees have been planted over 2ha. It is estimated it will take 20 years for the paddock to be restored to its natural state.

Mrs Eaton, who has been living with her husband on the 67ha property for 12 months, said donating the use of their land for the project was the right thing to do. "We’ve been looking at it for the future of our kids and the Far North," she said. "This is where we want our retirement, and we want our children to be able to see the place with all the rainforest. "We can envision tree kangaroos and other beautiful animals around here. "It’s the right thing to do for the environment, and we’re lucky enough to be in a position where we can do this." Future works at the site will include weed control and fencing to exclude cattle to improve 35ha in two critical wildlife corridors at Rock Rd and East Evelyn Rd. Scientists will also investigate new ways of converting pasture to rainforest, to encourage animals such as rainforest skinks and frogs to move into revegetated areas by introducing structure that mimic their natural habitat of fallen and decaying wood. *Cairns Post

Energy and Wildlife

More evidence has emerged that the environmentalist movement–and not the oil industry–is the premier energy-related threat to the survival of America’s wildlife. The obsession with green energy has led to the growth of the wind power industry, which has been killing birds and bats since its inception–and usually with impunity. But that may come to an end, according to today’s L.A. Times. The paper reports the federal government is investigating the killing of six golden eagles at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Pine Tree Wind Project: So far, no wind-energy company has been prosecuted by federal wildlife authorities in connection with the death of birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. A prosecution in the Pine Tree case could cause some rethinking and redesigning of this booming alternative energy source. Facilities elsewhere also have been under scrutiny, according to a federal official familiar with the investigations.

“Wind farms have been killing birds for decades and law enforcement has done nothing about it, so this investigation is long overdue,” said Shawn Smallwood, an expert on raptor ecology and wind farms. “It’s going to ruffle wind industry feathers across the country.” Get it? Ruffle their feathers. But seriously, the green movement isn’t just killing federally protected animals; they may also be sending some animals on their way to the list of endangered species. Take the bat, for example. In addition to fighting off white-nose syndrome, bats are falling victim to the wind turbines too: Wind turbines are apparently killing migratory bats as well—by 2020, an estimated 33,000 to 111,000 bats are predicted to be killed by turbines in the mid-Atlantic Highlands alone. The authors in the Science paper worry that as wind power ramps up in the U.S., more bats will end up pureed by the blades.

This is bad for the economy, since bats eat an astounding number of insects and save farmers billions on pesticides. It’s terrible for the environment too, since those pesticides will have to replace the bats. And nobody wins when our food supply is eroded in the meantime by the pests that survive thanks to the wind turbines. So the green movement is destroying wildlife, the environment and our nation’s food supply. But don’t worry: at least we’re not drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. *Bridgestone Ecopia

Flying Foxes

Residents driven batty by flying foxes have been raided by officials who seized air horns they had used to try to scare the bats away. Officers from the Department of Environment and Resource Management armed with search warrants raided a Gold Coast home yesterday. The long-suffering residents are being warned they face jail and $100,000 fines if they persist in trying to frighten off the flying foxes. The bust shocked and angered residents who accused the State Government of putting "disease-ridden" bats before people and called in lawyers to fight back. The raid came as communities across Queensland grapple with flying fox plagues and the deadly Hendra virus crisis. The raid followed Southport residents going public with their horn-blowing campaign in a desperate bid to rid their neighbourhood of thousands of screeching flying foxes. Robyn Burgess, who lives amid a large bat colony in an exclusive part of the suburb, said she was "dumbfounded" when DERM officials knocked at her door just after 8am yesterday brandishing a search warrant signed by a magistrate.

She and her husband Robert were forced to hand over air horns and a flyer they had made to advise neighbours where to buy the devices. "The officials were actually sitting outside my house when I arrived home from a funeral - they could have left a card but instead they turned up ... with a search warrant looking for 'evidence of the commission of an offence'," she said. The Burgesses and their neighbours resorted to using air horns after "trying everything" to ward off the flying foxes, including firing an air pistol. Mrs Burgess said she had no idea she was breaking the law until it was brought to her attention in a media interview earlier this week. "I was pretty speechless," she said. Mrs Burgess has called in lawyer Bill Potts, who described the raid as ridiculous. "Clearly, these noisy, defecating, Hendra virus and lyssavirus-carrying creatures are not meant to be in suburbia, especially in such large numbers," he said.

"This is Southport we're talking about, for heaven's sake. It's an inner-suburb of the Gold Coast, not somewhere out in the hinterland. The residents have been put in a position where they are powerless but, instead of trying to help them, the Government is threatening them with jail and fines." Potts Lawyers colleague Rob Franklin said the Government had failed to address the problem of bat colonies establishing themselves in the suburbs and the Hendra virus outbreak, responsible for the deaths of 15 horses and a family dog, made a solution even more urgent. "It's about balancing the interests of wildlife protection and public safety and unfortunately, that balance is out of whack at the moment," he said.

DERM last night confirmed a search warrant had been executed on a Southport residence "in relation to recent allegations of sound devices being used to interfere with a flying fox roost". The department's general manager of conservation, strategy and planning Clive Cook, said: "DERM will investigate this matter to determine whether further action is necessary." Robert and Robyn Burgess say they have spent more than $100,000 trying to soundproof their Southport home from the din of thousands of screeching bats. "We've put in commercial windows, insulation and airconditioning but still the noise and the smell persists," Mrs Burgess said. "They arrive about an hour before dawn and dusk every day. Winter's not so bad because they don't fly in until about 4.30am but in summer it can be as early as 2am. "The racket is unbelievable and I wake up every morning to see bats less than a metre from my window."

Mr Burgess likened the cacophony to "closing time at the pub but about a million times louder". "It's so loud it even drowns out the kookaburras," he said. The couple said the smell from the bats was "pungent" and potentially disease-carrying bat droppings were everywhere. "We have three cats and they regularly come in with bat poo in their fur," Mrs Burgess said. "Now there is the worry with Hendra virus, especially now that we know domestic pets can be infected." The Burgesses, who have lived in their Egerton St home for 19 years, say the bats moved in about nine years ago and shattered the peace of their once-tranquil neighbourhood. They contacted the then Environmental Protection Agency which said there was nothing that could be done. "We started using the air horns out of desperation," she said. *Courier Mail

A series of vigilante attacks against bats are being investigated by the RSPCA, including the lighting of fires to "smoke" them out. As the Hendra virus outbreak enters its third month, animal welfare groups are receiving disturbing reports of violence against bat colonies. The attacks have prompted warnings that residents confronting distressed flying foxes risked contracting lyssavirus. One woman, who asked not to be identified, said her family was furious after watching attempts by some locals at Gayndah to move stressed bats out of the township. "I've seen people lighting fires either side of the colony, trying to smoke them out. They shoot off these loud gas guns. I've also watched people walking into the area with big sticks," she said. An investigation has been launched into the death of an endangered grey-headed bat caught on a barbed-wire fence at Northgate in Brisbane's outer north.

Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland president Louise Saunders said five men had been poking at the bat with sticks. "Its mouth was ripped to shreds and it ripped its wings as it got more entangled." The group also called in environmental officers to an incident at Regents Park in Logan City last weekend. Spokesman for the RSPCA Michael Beatty said inspectors would determine if the Northgate workers had attacked the bat or were trying to rescue it. Anyone bitten or scratched by a bat could be at risk of lyssavirus, he said. Southport residents near Gardiners Creek have tried air horns to drive away a colony but Environment and Resource Management officers warn they risk a 12-month jail term or $100,000 fine by causing stress to bats. * Courier Mail

Hendra Facts

Hendra virus can be transmitted from flying fox to horse, horse to horse and horse to human. While the exact route of transmission is not known, it is thought that horses contract Hendra virus by ingesting material contaminated by infected flying fox body fluids and excretions. There is no evidence of Hendra virus spreading from person to person or from flying fox to human. The scientific information available on the disease is not complete and research continues to learn more about Hendra virus—particularly about how it is transmitted from flying foxes to horses. While Hendra virus is present in flying fox populations, the risk of horses being infected is very low. Horses should be removed from paddocks where flowering/fruiting trees are attracting flying foxes. Horses should be returned only after the trees have stopped flowering/fruiting and the flying foxes have gone. If it is not possible to remove horses from paddocks, try to temporarily remove your horses during times of peak flying fox activity (usually at dusk and during the night). * Biosecurity Queensland

Ed Comment; If we lose the flying foxes, and we well might, the media, and especially the Courier Mail, will have played a leading role through their attempts to demonise these magnificent and important native animals.

Wildlife Trafficking...Pangolins

Customs officers in Guangdong, China, have seized more than 7.8 tonnes of frozen pangolins and 1,800 kg of pangolin scales from a fishing vessel after it was stopped for inspection. International trade in Asian pangolin species is banned under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Two of the four species are classified as Endangered by IUCN. The suspect fishing vessel was sighted by a Guangdong Customs patrol and, when boarded, customs officials found 2090 frozen pangolins each weighing between 1-10 kg as well as 92 cases of pangolin scales. The crew of 5 Chinese and 1 Malaysian national were arrested; they claimed they had been hired to sail the vessel from Xiangzhou Port, Zhuhai, to South-East Asia to pick up the illicit cargo. The Malaysian crew member was said to have received instructions by satellite phone on where to rendezvous at sea to pick up the contraband. The smugglers were intercepted before they could transfer the cargo to another vessel off Gaolan Island.

"The use of satellite phones and trans-shipment of cargo at sea are indicative of the increasingly sophisticated methods being used by the organized criminal gangs involved in wildlife crime," said James Compton, TRAFFIC's Asia Pacific co-ordinator. The Chinese authorities have shared intelligence on the seizures with enforcement agencies operating in the region, including INTERPOL, World Customs Organization (WCO) and ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network and CITES, and are seeking co-operation with Malaysia's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on a joint investigation. "Guangdong Customs are to be congratulated on this important action against wildlife smugglers operating between South-East Asia and China," said Professor Xu Hongfa, Director of TRAFFIC's China Programme. A China Customs official quoted by the State news agency, Xinhua, noted that between 2007 and the end of June 2010 a total of 292 cases involving the smuggling of endangered species had been investigated in China. In total, 38,599 animal parts had been seized, weighing a total of 26.63 tonnes plus more than 55 tonnes of 2,753 rare plant varieties. *Wildlife Extra

About Pangolins

The scaly-plated pangolin looks more like a reptile than a mammal. Easily recognized by its hard protective body armor, it has a long tail for climbing and a pointed snout for sticking its nose in termite nests. Powerful curved claws allow it to rip apart anthills and open dirt mounds to gorge on insects with its long, sticky tongue protruding out. With a keen sense of smell, pangolins feed mostly on termites, ants and their eggs, eating hundreds of thousands of ants for just one meal. Hard scales, tiny ears and thick skin help it to ward off ant bites as it demolishes an entire nest. Pangolins are hunted for their meat, considered a delicacy, in both Africa and Asia. And traditional medicine users believe their scales help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation. These beliefs lead to the illegal poaching of pangolins to supply the Chinese demand for special soups and scales. *