Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 24/2/12

White Bear

You could be forgiven for thinking it was a polar bear that had wandered off the ice and somehow found itself in a forest. But this golden, almost white, beautifully unique creature is in fact a white variant of the North American black bear known as the spirit bear. The animal, also known as the Kermode bear, lives among more conventional-looking black bears in the dense green forests of British Columbia in Canada.
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Fundraising Cautions

There are emails and phone calls going around from foreign countries asking for organisational tax ID numbers or ABN's. The emails say they want to make "your organisation" a primary beneficiary and they need to have your complete address and the tax ID number. Be careful..... * WPAA


Found by a local resident in a backyard at Little Mountain near Caloundra after being attacked by a pet dog, a Green Tree Snake was transported to The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital by the Australia Zoo Rescue Unit for specialised treatment. Dr Bec assessed Apple and found multiple puncture wounds over the mid-section of the body. Apple was an otherwise very bright and responsive little snake. Apple the Green Tree Snake was treated by Dr Bec, who administered Apple pain relief and fluids, cleaned the wounds and stitched them closed. Apple is receiving antibiotics to help prevent any infection. Apple is currently in a warm leafy enclosure in the Reptiles ICU, and will remain in care until fully healed and able to be released back into the wild. AZWH Statistic: Over 65 patients have already been admitted in 2012 after falling victim to a domestic animal attack. Please be a responsible pet owner and keep

Frog News

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) is preparing to return spotted tree frogs back to the Mount Buffalo National Park in north-eastern Victoria. The species was declared extinct from the area in 1983. The DSE is hoping the release of 260 captive-bred frogs will re-establish the population. * At Springbook in Queensland, an endangered frog not seen for 40 years has been found. The Fleays Barred Frog was found in a National Park. Another vulnerable frog was also found and five near-threatened species. * And a rare Rabb's Fringelimbed Tree Frog whose species is believed to be extinct in the wild has been put down in an Atlanta (US) Zoo after its condition deteriorated. *

Opportunity for Comment, GBR

Disposal of dredge material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park The Australian Government is proposing to introduce an Environmental Management Charge (EMC) for the disposal of dredge material into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. A charge is to be determined, from $5 to $15 for each cubic metre of material disposed of into the Marine Park. This charge would be applied to all permissions granted under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 that allow such disposal to occur. The charge is proposed to take effect from 1 July 2012 and would apply to all actions from that point onwards. This approach is consistent with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's general principles that users of the Marine Park contribute to the management of the Marine Park. Revenue from the EMC will contribute to the long-term sustainable management of the Marine Park. For more information, please contact: Adam Smith (07) 4750 00734 or Andrew Skeat (07) 4750 0821 by 23 February 2012.

Kangaroo Video

The documentary Kangaroo Mob shown on ABC on Tuesday night angered and upset many people. While it has some value in showing perhaps a better view of kangaroos than most television does, most viewers seemed to be disappointed. Our concerns were that it showed a lot of John Fletcher's shonky research, (remember him, he was involved in the Belconnen kangaroo kill). But we were also concerned that the narrator stated that landclearing, planting crops and building dams had contributed to plagues of kangaroos, which is quite blatantly wrong. With 5 major river systems across Austalia, lots of billabongs and lagoons, and enough natural grasslands to support 200 or more million kangaroos, they coundnt get anything to eat or drink till we built dams and planted crops? Pull the other leg.....


A pair of stowaway possums went on a 2000km journey along the east coast after climbing into the back of a removal van. The pair of ringtail possums, named Bill and Ted after the 1989 film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, travelled from Caulfield to Queensland in the back of a truck. The removal team discovered Bill hiding in a barbecue box at the end of the marathon trek, but did not notice his partner until later. The van delivered the contents to an address north of Brisbane. They were taken to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, where they were looked over and found to be in good health. They were then flown back to Victoria courtesy of Australian Air Express, which transported the intrepid travellers to the Oakleigh South Wildlife Shelter. Carer Michelle Phillips said it appeared the two young possums had cared for each other during the journey. "There's little doubt that they were in the truck when it first took off," Ms Phillips said. "The ringtails in Victoria are very different from those in Queensland, so they would have struggled to survive if they hadn't been brought back." Ms Phillips said she was surprised the possums had been in such good health on their return to Victoria. "Being juveniles probably helped them, and they handled the whole thing really well," she said. Following a 4000km round journey, Ms Phillips said Bill and Ted would be released in Caulfield next week. * Waverley Leader

Wildlife Park Closed

A native wildlife park at Bass near Westernport Bay has been shut down by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). The DSE says the operator was running Wildlife Wonderland without a licence and had been evicted from the property by its owners. DSE spokesman Ryan Incoll says officers are also investigating reports of animals being mistreated. He says Healesville Sanctuary and the RSPCA are taking care of the 130 animals. "Health checks have been done and all the animals have been moved from the park to other locations to look after their care and their welfare," he said. He said the department had sent notifications to the operator several months ago. "There were also a number of visits of our wildlife officers to the park to talk to the operator, to assist with getting that licence but he wasn't in the place and didn't obtain a licence." * ABC


The koala, one of Australia’s most-treasured creatures, is in trouble. Faced with habitat loss, climate change and bacterial disease, koalas are being pushed into smaller and smaller regions of the country. In Queensland, the vast state in Australia’s northeastern corner, surveys suggest that from 2001 to 2008, the number of koalas dropped as much as 45 percent in urban areas and 15 percent in bushland. And while climate change and habitat loss are affecting many other uniquely Australian animals, too — from birds and frogs to marsupials like wombats, wallabies and bandicoots — it is a bacterial infection that is worrying many scientists about the fate of the koala. “Disease is a somewhat silent killer and has the very real potential to finish koala populations in Queensland,” said Dr. Amber Gillett, a veterinarian at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital in Queensland.

The killer is chlamydia, a class of bacteria far better known for causing venereal disease in humans than for devastating koala populations. Recent surveys in Queensland show that chlamydia has caused symptoms in up to 50 percent of the state’s wild koalas. The bacteria — transmitted during birth, through mating and possibly through fighting — come in two different strains, neither the same as the human form. Chlamydia causes a host of symptoms in koalas, including eye infections, which can lead to blindness, making it difficult for them to find scarce eucalyptus leaves, their primary food source. The bacteria can also lead to respiratory infections, along with cysts that can make female koalas infertile. The epidemic has been particularly severe in Queensland, where nearly all koalas are infected with koala retrovirus, Gillett said. This retrovirus is an HIV-like infection that suppresses the koala’s immune system and interferes with its ability to fight off chlamydia.

Treating chlamydia in wild koalas is a challenge, Gillett said. The disease is so devastating that only a small percentage of the animals can be treated successfully and returned to the wild. There is no treatment available for koala retrovirus, but researchers are working to test a vaccine that would help prevent further spread of the chlamydia infection.infertile. The epidemic has been particularly severe in Queensland, where nearly all koalas are infected with koala retrovirus, Gillett said. This retrovirus is an HIV-like infection that suppresses the koala’s immune system and interferes with its ability to fight off chlamydia. Treating chlamydia in wild koalas is a challenge, Gillett said. The disease is so devastating that only a small percentage of the animals can be treated successfully and returned to the wild. There is no treatment available for koala retrovirus, but researchers are working to test a vaccine that would help prevent further spread of the chlamydia infection. *New York Times

Ed Comment; A number of housing development proposals recently have been approved in Southern Queensland in koala habitat. On one site, (which is alleged to hold 300 or so koalas) work has already started on clearing for powerlines and access infrastructure. Then another huge project West of Caboolture has just been approved by the Queensland government, to house 60,000 koala habitat again! Roads and freeways in the area are almost blocked now in peak traffic times...and there are many other issues about this that concern many people. Meanwhile the Federal Environment Minister has once again deferred announcing a decision to protect koalas from the recent Koala Inquiry in Canberra. Why? Because the Queensland government is holding an election, and a poor decision about the koalas (which most wildlife groups expect) would reflect badly on the election campaign. Mind you, if Rudd displaces Gillard next week, the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke will likely be kicked out anyway.........What did we ever do to deserve the politicians we now have?


Victorian farmers may soon be able to harvest kangaroos. A report, believed to recommend a change in the state's laws, was handed to the Victorian Government a few weeks ago.
It comes as kangaroos reach record numbers across Australia due to the end of drought. Calls are growing to lift a ban in Victoria on the commercial processing of culled kangaroos. Landholders are able to destroy about 30,000 kangaroos a year in Victoria but while they may take some meat for personal use, they must dispose of the carcasses. The Competition and Efficiency Commission, a branch of the Government's Treasury Department, first recommended a law change in a draft report last year. A second draft report later that year called Securing Victoria's Future Prosperity: A reform agenda did not mention culling. The Weekly Times has learned that lifting of bans on commercial harvesting had been put to government as a "hot spot" reform. The Department of Sustainability and Environment issues Authority to Control Wildlife permits to landholders based on sustainable limits. The commission last year called on the Government to simplify the process for obtaining permits, estimating each permit cost about $480. About three million kangaroos are shot across Australia each year, but Victoria is the only state that does not have a commercial industry. Kangaroo Industry Association chief executive John Kelly said kangaroos could number more than 52 million in a year. "If Victoria changes the law then farmers won't have to do the job, they can ask a commercial service to do it for free," he said. *Weekly Times
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The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia says kangaroo numbers could reach record numbers within 18 months. Chief executive John Kelly says wet weather has caused a seasonal explosion in numbers. The conditions are similar to those of 2001 when the federal Department of Environment estimated roo numbers could reach more than 50 million. Mr Kelly says high numbers are not unusual, but because of the high Australian dollar and market access problems, kangaroo shooting is no longer viable. Mr Kelly believes kangaroo numbers could reach 52 million by next year. "Running into the next drought when we have record populations of kangaroos, it becomes a real problem," he said. "If there isn't a kangaroo industry there that is controlling the numbers and can reduce the numbers in the face of the next drought, then the agriculture sector is going to find themselves in a very nasty place." (7TVACT) Meanwhile the ABC reports that graziers south of Cunnamulla are reporting goats taking refuge in trees from record floods. Not only is a big body of water heading south from Dirrinbandi, but floodwaters in the Warrego River are now heading towards Bourke in NSW. Livestock manager at Landmark Cunnamulla, Neal Elliott, says a grazier from Mirage Plains, 80 kilometres south of town, has seen some of his goats in the branches of trees. "As the floodwaters are rising they are taking refuge on higher branches. They will probably starve though because the water usually takes a few days to go down again." The town of Cunnamulla itself has fared well with the levy protecting the town from near record flooding. The water has now dropped from 9.95 metres to 7 metres. *

Ed Comment; Kellys statements above are ridiculous of course. Many kangaroos (they can't climb trees ) have been lost in the floods, and chloriod blindness disease from biting insects will kill many more after the floods subside.

Wildlife Trafficking

Four Chinese nationals are facing deportation from Zimbabwe after they were arrested for killing more than 40 rare tortoises for meat, officials say. Animal welfare officials said the men admitted charges of animal cruelty. Investigators found the skeletal remains of 40 endangered Bell's Hinged tortoises, in a raid on the men's house. They also reportedly recovered 13 live tortoises stored in steel drums without water or food. Villagers in Bikita, in south-eastern Zimbabwe, said the reptiles were dropped alive into boiling water. Tortoise meat was also recovered from the house, the Zimbabwe Herald reports. The tortoise is listed as an endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Local officials say their numbers in the wild have dwindled in recent years. *BBC

Fingerprints have been lifted off exotic snakes and lizards for the first time by NSW Police, after a two-year operation uncovered almost 200 reptiles in suburban homes in Sydney. Dawn raids by police and officers of the Environment and Heritage Office were carried out last week on three addresses across the city. The houses had been converted specifically to keep the reptiles and were likened to hydroponic drugs houses - they looked like normal homes from the outside but were set up for alleged illegal trade. Forensic experts fingerprinted the reptiles at the site of one of the homes. "It is the first time prints have been taken off reptiles in an operation," said Sergeant Cameron Forsyth of the Fingerprint Unit. "The procedure is fairly delicate and groundbreaking research was done before we knew it was possible." The snakes are dusted, like in normal fingerprinting, and the prints then photographed from the reptile. "We first had to establish it could be done without harming the subjects." Sgt Forsyth said only certain species were able to be printed.

The Daily Telegraph understands at least four snakes and lizards were dusted from the 194 reptiles seized. Some of the species seized had never been seen in Australia before and the haul is estimated to be worth in excess of $500,000. Many of the animals were in poor health and were sent to various wildlife centres, Environment and Heritage Office acting CEO Sally Barnes said. "Exotic species found ... included two emerald tree monitors from Papua New Guinea, a boa constrictor, a crested gecko (native to New Caledonia) and four leopard geckoes," Ms Barnes said. "Other animals including hatching geckoes, pythons and turtles were found frozen. Inquiries continue and charges are expected to be laid once the investigation is complete." Frozen rats kept as food were also found. Ms Barnes said some of the animals were in poor health and in some instances the condition of their housing could only be described as "below average". "All reptiles are protected in NSW and it is against the law to remove (them) from the wild," she said. "Illegal trade of wildlife is a serious conservation problem often resulting in mistreatment of animals and grave impacts on the ecosystems they are taken from." * Telegraph

Fraser Island Dingoes

In the past 10 years, dingoes on Fraser Island have attacked people almost 100 times, according to startling figures released by the environment department. Since the current monitoring regime began in 2002, there have been 98 dangerous dingo attacks recorded on the island - and these statistics will no doubt form part of the evidence in the Azaria Chamberlain inquest. Numerous attacks have also occurred before 2002, including a mauling that led to the death of nine-year-old Clinton Gage and injuries to his younger brother in 2001. The Department of Environment and Resource Management compiled the figures following a Chronicle inquiry last week. As Australia waits to hear whether a Northern Territory coronial inquest will categorically absolve the Chamberlains this week of any involvement in their daughter Azaria's disappearance at Uluru in 1980, the release of DERM dingo figures reinforces the Chamberlains' case that a dingo took their nine-week-old baby from their tent more than 30 years ago.

Michael and Lindy Chamberlain (now known as Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton) were convicted in 1981 in relation to Azaria's disappearance. Mrs Chamberlain- Creighton was sentenced to life for murder, but her and her then husband's convictions were later quashed after a 1987 royal commission. Evidence about dingo attacks on Fraser Island is understood to have been submitted to the NT coroner and was instrumental in having a fourth inquest opened. "Encounters - incidents or sightings - that are reported to rangers are added to the dingo's profile," a DERM spokesman said. "Dingoes assessed over time as being dangerous to people are humanely destroyed. "These animals cannot 'unlearn' this behaviour and can quickly become unpredictable and so dangerous that they will, in certain circumstances, seriously maul or kill someone." The NT Coroner Elizabeth Morris is expected to hand down her findings this Friday. *Fraser Coast Chronicle

Ed Comment; Its important to note that the quoted "attacks" include looking sideways at a tourist, curiosity, and just plain being in the wrong pace at the wrong time. Again, this is just very poor reporting in an attempt to demonise the FI dingoes. Once while sleeping in my vehicle on the Island, I rolled out of the back of my vehicle early one morning and bumped into a dingo. This would be classified by DERM as an "attack!" The 4th Chamberlain Inquest has not done any favors to the FI dingoes.

Dingo data from DERM is deceiving..

There has been much ado in the media regarding the re-opening of the Azaria Chamberlain case and the comparison to alleged attacks on Fraser Island. It is understandable that the Chamberlains would like to have a final verdict on the coroners findings and put this matter to rest, but its relevance to Fraser Island is debatable. The Dept. of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) seem intent on convincing potential visitors that Fraser Island dingoes are dangerous and aggressive . The Department has recently issued a statement inferring that there have been close to 100 incidents of dangerous behaviour exhibited by dingoes on Fraser Island since 2002. This statement will not only discourage tourism, but must be challenged as inaccurate and deceiving. It must be understood that an incident, according to DERM, can be as dangerous as an animal "loitering at a recognised visitor site."

Only 4% of reports analysed record actual instances of biting or nipping, these instances are usually provoked by tourists and, for the most part, can be attributed to juvenile play behaviour, not aggression. What do Uluru and Fraser Island actually have in common? According to Michael Chamberlain "within a few weeks of stopping feeding at Uluru our daughter was dead." Prior to QPWS taking control of Fraser Island there was no mention of dingoes attacking humans, but within a year of food sources being removed, harassment of campers was observed. The department even admit hunger to be the actual cause of problem behaviour (Price 1994). Therefore, in both cases, government interference can be attributed to a change in dingo behaviour. This attempt by DERM to vilify the dingo only highlights the mismanagement of Fraser Island and the urgent need for a review of it's flawed and failing management strategy. Hopefully a change in government will bring about the change needed to provide a sustainable future for our unique and iconic Fraser Island dingo.*Media Release, Save Fraser Island Dingoes Inc.

Today, the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program expressed its disappointment at the way in which flawed and unreliable data from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), relating to alleged dingo attacks on Fraser Island,are being provided as evidence at the Azaria Chamberlain inquest in the Northern Territory. National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program spokesperson, Dr Ernest Healy, stated today that: ‘DERM has applied a ridiculously loose standard in labeling contact between dingoes and humans on Fraser Island as ‘attacks’ or as ‘dangerous’. The Department has applied a no-tolerance approach to dingo-human contact, whereby virtually any contact at all has been labeled as ‘aggression’ on the part of the dingo. DERM has persisted with categorizing the most trivial forms of contact as aggressive, for which large numbers of high-conservation-value dingoes have been put down.

Dr Healy added: ‘That these flawed records, a product of the mismanagement of the Fraser Island dingo population, should now be used to further vilify the reputation of the dingo in the Azaria Chamberlain case appears self-serving on DERM’s part. One has to wonder if DERM is now using the Azaria Chamberlain inquest to attempt to legitimize its track record of dingo mismanagement on Fraser Island. If so, this situation is one that all Queenslanders should be outraged about.’ That records compiled as a part of the mismanagement of the Fraser Island dingo population should now be used to vilify the dingo in another context highlights the need for a judicial enquiry into Fraser Island dingo management by DERM. A change of government in Queensland in the near future may provide the catalyst for such an enquiry.’ *Ernest Healy, President NDPRP,


The online retailing giant Amazon appears to have responded to pressure against whale meat sales on its Japanese language website. The Seattle-based business, which wholly owns its Japanese subsidiary, has a stated policy of prohibiting the sale of unlicensed or illegal wildlife products including endangered species, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency. But EIA found 147 different whale products for sale on, including some from listed endangered species, in a December survey. Others came from Japan's legally disputed research whaling program. A check of the site early today using the Japanese symbol for whale meat found dozens of items still listed, but hours afters news of the investigation was published, the same search found no listings. In response to a request for comment from Amazon, a spokeswoman, Mary Osako, said: "The items you referenced are not available for sale."

In the report,'s Unpalatable Profits, launched with Humane Society International, the investigators bought eight whale products from Amazon Japan in 2011, including canned whale meat, whale jerky, whale bacon and whale stew. Analysis of some revealed excess mercury levels, and up to one-third lacked a species name on the label. Selling arrangements on Amazon Japan require third-party sellers to pay a 10 per cent commission for food and drink products, including whale products, on top of a 4900 yen ($57) monthly fee, the report said. The products are shipped direct from the seller in Amazon boxes. The groups called on Amazon to enact an immediate corporate-wide policy prohibiting the sale of all cetacean products. *Sydney Morning Herald

Keppel Island

Conservationists have labelled the environmental impact process a farce after comments by Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson that his government backed a $600 million resort and real estate development for central Queensland's Great Keppel Island. Capricorn Conservation Council co-ordinator Michael McCabe said yesterday that Mr Ferguson's statements showed the Government had little regard for its own regulatory process, given the development's EIS process was not complete. Such premature statements showed the decision would be a rubber stamp by the Federal Environment Department and the State Co-ordinator-General's office. Environment Minister Tony Burke said this was not correct because many developments were supported by ministers but it was always understood this was subject to environmental approvals. "Decisions concerning Great Keppel will be made according to national environmental law and statements of support from (Mr Ferguson) put absolutely no improper pressure on those deliberations," Mr Burke said. A spokeswoman for developer Tower Holdings said the draft EIS was the most rigorous environmental assessment conducted on the island and the project had been scaled back by 75 per cent.

Central Queensland is a development hot spot, with proposals for major mining port development at Balaclava Island, the Fitzroy Terminal Project and a Gladstone Ports Corporation proposal for the northern end of Curtis Island. Mr McCabe said he supported the Keppel proposal so long as it stayed within the original resort's footprint. Tower had bought the original resort but closed it, making locals wonder whether the company wanted to be in tourism or simply develop real estate. Tower had already had two major proposals rejected for the site but still wanted to double the size of the marina, build 1050 villas and apartments and use recreational leasehold land. "In anyone's language that's real estate rather than tourism," Mr McCabe said. "We've got great concerns about the amount of dredging needed." Mr McCabe said any decision on such a huge project and the port proposals nearby should be held over until the state and federal strategic assessment of the reef was completed. Seven island resorts have closed during the tourism downturn on Lindeman, Bedarra, Dunk, Long, South Stradbroke and Brampton islands. *Courier Mail

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