Monday, May 14, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 15/5/12

Whale Wars

Paul Watson, the founder of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, has been arrested in Germany and will be extradited to Costa Rica. The activist group has labelled the arrest as "nonsense" and called for the charges against the Canadian-born Watson to be dropped. Sea Shepherd says Watson, who is the captain of the Steve Irwin ship, has been arrested on a Costa Rican warrant over an incident which occurred in 2002. "The specific 'violation of ships traffic' incident took place on the high seas in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero," the group said in a statement.  "On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their illegal shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted." Sea Shepherd claims that while it was taking the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned. "A Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew," the group said. "The crew of the Varadero accused Sea Shepherd of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy. "To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings." *AsiaPacific News

Wildlife trafficking

A German man who was caught with 49 live lizards in his luggage at Munich airport claimed the creatures were for his dinner and even offered to bite the head off one to prove it. The man was traveling back from Oman in the Middle East when customs officials discovered 31 spiny-tailed lizards and 18 other assorted breeds of lizard in his suitcase, Germany's DPA news agency reported. The 28-year-old man claimed the reptiles were for his "personal food supply" and offered to eat one of the creatures in front of officials as proof. "The traveler was even going to bite the head off of one of the spiny-tailed lizards under the eyes of customs officials," a spokesman said. The lizards are now being cared for by veterinarians in Munich and are said to be doing fine. The traveler may face a fine of several thousand euros for transporting protected animals. *FoxNews

Victoria's Threatened Species

Fewer than half of the threatened species listed under Victorian flora and fauna laws have had a formal plan drawn up by the environment department to manage their survival. An analysis by lawyers at the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) found that of 599 threatened plant and animal species listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, only 270 have an action statement to manage their conservation as legally required. Of the 75 ecological communities and potentially environmentally harmful processes listed under the act, just 31 have action statements. Only one draft action statement - for the dingo - has been released in the past year. The analysis found that virtually nothing had changed since a damning April 2009 Auditor-General's report concluded that laws to protect threatened species were out of date, underused and failed to provide a framework to conserve endangered flora and fauna.
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Dozens of Victoria's protected Little Penguins have been found mauled to death at the popular Phillip Island Nature Park. The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) said 27 Little Penguins were found at Cat Bay, Shelly Beach and Penguin Parade Car Park yesterday. Two Water Rats, also protected animals, were also found dead. DSE wildlife officers are investigating the cause of death, but the injuries are consistent with a dog attack. Owners of dogs that attack wildlife on public land face fines of up to $3000. The Little Penguin, which is also known as the Fairy Penguin, is the world's smallest penguin species and the only penguin permanently found in Australia. Phillip Island is home to one of the world's largest colonies. Every night at dusk, hundreds of the penguins swim ashore and make their way to their homes in the nature reserve. Known as the Penguin Parade, it is a popular tourist destination that attracts thousands of people each year. *AAP


A foam cooler will be the unlikely vessel carrying the young of one of Australia's most endangered species from Melbourne Zoo to the marshlands of Mount Kosciuszko next week. Inside the cooler will be five plastic tubs containing 60 black eggs each. Resting on moss like jewels on velvet, the precious eggs belong to the striking black and yellow southern corroboree frog. With fewer than 100 southern corroboree frogs remaining in the wild, the species' critically endangered status means slumming it in a cooler is unusual. Normally this species enjoys the Rolls-Royce treatment. These eggs started life at Melbourne Zoo's $75,000 amphibian centre, a purpose-built climate-controlled facility that is playing a key role in the captive breeding program in Victoria and NSW. And although they will travel to their new alpine address in a cooler, it will be a helicopter that drops them at their remote mountain-top home on Tuesday. Amphibian keeper Raelene Hobbs said while the zoo had been participating in a national recovery program since the mid-1990s, it was the first time it had released corroboree frog eggs into the wild.
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Gladstone Protest

An environmentalist who chained himself to a ship to protest against dredging in Gladstone Harbour says he does not regret his actions despite having to appear in court. But Mark ‘‘Potts’’ Driscoll, 48, will have to keep any further protests within the confines of the law after he was issued with a $2000 good behaviour bond in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today. Driscoll, a former real estate agent, was arrested on March 14 after he boarded and then chained himself to a dredging ship working to prepare Gladstone Harbour for the city’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) boom. Dredging in the harbour, which is in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, has been criticised by several environmental groups after fish in Gladstone began developing red eyes and lesions.  *Age

Game Meat

SSAA Media & Publications from South Australia has expanded from magazine to book production, preparing to release Field to Fork - The Australian Game Cookbook. The new cookbook features a range of game meat recipes that will help the home cook explore the world of alternative meat choices.  They came meats are becoming increasingly sought after in the professional cooking industry, and SSAA Media & Publications is now trying to create familiarity with game so people are confident to prepare them at home. In doing so, they are encouraging readers to live sustainably and to take advantage of the rich and varied wildlife that is abundant in Australia. Duck, deer, quail, kangaroo and rabbit are just some of the game meats that Field to Fork is encouraging people to put on their kitchen table. The publisher is an arm of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA), and calaims its portfolio of magazines and books aims to foster an understanding and further the promotion of the shooting sports and recreational hunting in this country. We say, put game meat on the table and get sick. Game meat carries a whole range of parasites and bacteria, including salmonella and eColi, and most shooters dont know how to keep game meat in a conditon safe to eat anyway.*


Farmers are being forced to use poisonous chemicals and revert to outdated tilling methods to cope with a growing breed of herbicide-resistant "super weeds". The problem, triggered by overuse of the popular weedkiller Roundup, poses health and environmental risks, including soil pollution and toxicity to humans, and is substantially driving up farm costs. Since the 1980s, Roundup, otherwise known as glyphosate, has been heralded as a farming panacea - cheap, easy to use and relatively safe. But in several countries, including Australia, an over-reliance means weeds have evolved to withstand it. The first glyphosate-resistant weed in Australia, annual ryegrass, emerged in 1996. Another five have since been added to the list. In cities, authorities are also battling glyphosate-resistant weeds on roadsides and railway lines.
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Mid north coast conservationists want a statewide koala summit to be held later this year.  The summit is just one of the plans that came out of an environmental conference held in Coffs Harbour last weekend.  The Nature Conservation Council's regional conference discussed threats to other species and rising sea levels.  The NCC spokesman Pepe Clarke, says mining and coal seam gas activity were also hot topics.  He says logging and mining are just some of the threats to koalas.  "We're discussing plans to hold a statewide conservation summit later this year, possibly in September and there was some detailed discussion around what that summit should look like what it should seek to achieve.  "We're keen to bring together the very latest science together with stakeholders to talk about how we can best protect and restore koala populations, " he said.  Mr Clarke says concern also surfaced about weaker environmental assessment laws.  "There's been a concerted push at a national level and also in NSW by industry, by developers and by the mining lobby to weaken many of the environmental protections that the community has fought so hard for.  "If the koala's in decline, it's a good sign that we need stronger environmental protections, not weaker," he said. *ABC


An explosion in kangaroo and koala numbers caused by two years of high rainfall is damaging the Adelaide Hills and needs control. The Hills are like an oasis surrounded by arid areas which fenced in the animals, Mt Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board presiding member Chris Daniels said. There were so many koalas in the Hills they were "over-grazing" some gum trees. Mr Daniels said planned national wildlife corridors, while benefiting the environment and endangered animals, may worsen the overpopulation. "There is always talk of culling but I am not a fan of culling and it makes people exceedingly angry," he said. "Desexing of koalas had some success on Kangaroo Island but we don't have the money for that now and it is enormously expensive," Mr Daniels said. Fauna Rescue koala co-ordinator Rae Campbell said there was increasing contact between people and domestic animals and koalas. "I had three calls this afternoon, one was a false alarm but two were dog attacks and the animals had to be put down," she said. *Adelaide Now


New laws proposed in New South Wales are set to allow children as young as 12, armed with bows and arrows, dogs, and knives, to hunt feral animals without adult supervision. The new guidelines have been drawn up by the NSW Game Council, the State Government body which regulates hunting. Children are already allowed to hunt feral animals, but they cannot do it alone. The head of the NSW Game Council, Brian Boyle, says the age limits are being lowered to encourage families to get involved. Mr Boyle told local ABC radio the proposed changes to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act put more control in the hands of parents. "The child could still be supervised, they still have to have their parents' permission to be able to do that, and their parents are the best people placed to make that decision, not people outside," he said. He says the changes are also about also ensuring cleaner, more humane kills. "The animal has to be lined up, has to be broadside on. It's a heart or lung shot so that it is taken humanely. If the animal's disturbed you could have a chance that the animal moves and the shot is not perfect. So it is about animal welfare concerns," he said. *ABC
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AZWH Patient of the Week...Heather the Brushtail Possum

Found at Glenview after falling from a tree while it was cut down. Transported to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for emergency treatment and care.
Veterinary Assessment: X-rays revealed Heather had sustained fractures in both hind legs, had severely dislocated her right hip, and had a severe open wound to her right knee. Her pinky joey inside her pouch had sadly not survived the fall. Dr Amber administered Heather pain relief and fluids, and operated the same day to clean and repair her knee. After a few days of antibiotics, a second surgery was performed to repair her dislocated hip. Heather remains on pain relief and is undergoing supportive care. She is recovering very well and her wounds are looking clean and healthy. Her legs will remain bandaged for at least the next 6 weeks to allow the fractures to heal. AZWH Statistic: More than one tree fall victim is admitted on average each week. *


Once hunted to the very edge of extinction, the South Australian fur seals have made a comeback, notably on Kangaroo Island. In fact, the seal population has recovered so much that certain interests are pushing for a cull. Arguments go that the seals pose a problem for fish farms, that they are threatening the fairy penguins of Kangaroo Island and, most dubious of all, that a seal "harvest" would be profitable. The first argument is not an excuse to kill wild animals, if the second becomes substantiated by scientific evidence then the answer is sterilisation, not slaughter, and the third is complete nonsense. Even if profit were a valid motive, which it isn’t, the economic argument holds no water.  The infamous seal cull in Canada only survives because of government subsidies - the market for seal pelts has collapsed.  *
Sign a Petition against the cull now!

Reef Rescue Dumped

The Gillard government has axed the flagship project for its troubled $2 billion Caring for Our County national environment grants program. The $200 million Great Barrier Reef Rescue program has been dumped in this week's budget, ending one of of Australia's most successful and globally-emulated landcare conservation projects. The widely-praised program, launched by the former Rudd government in 2007 to deliver on an election campaign promise, will end next year. *Canberra Times
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Tassie Devils

A government plan to turn Tasmania's Maria Island national park into a last refuge for the disease-plagued Tasmanian devil has sparked strong opposition from wildlife advocates. Attempts to safeguard the marsupial against extinction in the wild are focusing on the island after rejection of a plan to fence healthy devils into Tasmania's north-west corner. 'We decided a single breach by a diseased devil would have negated that whole project,'' said Chris Boland, science manager for the federal-state Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, ''so Maria becomes of critical importance.'' But conservation groups are worried that releasing devils on Maria Island could be too costly for birds and other animals on the island. The 115-square-kilometre island, five kilometres off Tasmania's east coast, is rich in wildlife.
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Ed Comment; It's a very silly idea. Maria Island has several endanged species already, and a devil introduction would decimate those birds and animals. Read more about the Maria Island animals here  ..

Climate Change

Scientists fear billions of tree deaths caused by a 2010 drought in the Amazon region of South America could see the vast forest turn from a carbon sink to a carbon source. Billions of trees died in the record drought that struck the Amazon in 2010, raising fears that the vast forest is on the verge of a tipping point, where it will stop absorbing greenhouse gas emissions and instead increase them. The dense forests of the Amazon soak up more than one-quarter of the world’s atmospheric carbon, making it a critically important buffer against global warming. If the Amazon switches from a carbon sink to a carbon source that prompts further droughts and mass tree deaths, such a feedback loop could cause runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences. *EcoNews
Read more  ...

Become a Wildlife Warrior

By making a one-off donation or joining our monthly giving program you can become part of a global wildlife force that is working hard to preserve our natural environment. Monthly Giving Program; Sign up to become a regular giver for wildlife conservation! Donations start from as little as $2.50 a week and can go to helping our native wildlife at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Nearly 100 wildlife emergency calls are received every day at the Hospital, Up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital every day, Currently around 80 koalas undergoing treatment, Approximately 70% of patients are victims of car accidents or domestic pet attacks, The cost to treat one animal ranges from $100 to thousands of dollars To sign up or find out more please visit *


Like everyone else, kangaroos fart. And, contrary to some hopeful theories, marsupial farts contain methane, found a new study. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with at least 20 times more heat-trapping potential than carbon dioxide. Cows and other ruminants are notorious for their methane-filled burps, which are not just a concern for global warming. The fact that they belch methane also mean that these animals are not using their feed to produce energy as efficiently as farmers would like. For decades, scientists have pursued the intriguing possibility that marsupials produce little to no methane. In turn, some experts have proposed that people should switch from eating beef to eating methane-free animals. Others have wondered whether bacterial communities in kangaroo stomachs might hold the secret to creating earth-friendlier cows. To see whether marsupials might eventually lead the way to greenhouse gas reductions, researchers working at the Copenhagen Zoo put eight red-necked wallabies into large respiration chambers. The enclosures allowed them to measure the gasses that each animal produced. The wallabies clearly produced methane, the researchers reported in the Journal of Animal Science. When fed the same diet that cows get, wallabies produce one-quarter to one-third as much methane. That means that marsupials don’t pollute quite as much as cows do. But kangaroos likely wont be the solution to climate change, either. * 
Ed Comment; Gotta hand it to the researchers.....the Planet going down the gurgler, and they get funding to do research about kangaroos farting!

Whales and Mining

There are two booms under way in Australia, and scientists warn they are on a collision course. Soaring mineral exports threaten to run into increasing whale populations. The first clear evidence of where east Australian humpbacks breed has found they favour waters off rapidly expanding Queensland ports. With whale numbers climbing at about 10 per cent each year, scientists predict increased ship strikes as more mothers and calves move inshore. And the federal government is expected to release today new offshore oil and gas exploration areas in key blue whale habitat, sparking a contest over these marine giants as well. Despite becoming a common sight off Australia's east coast, humpbacks have remained largely hidden from view in critical breeding grounds off the Great Barrier Reef. Using Coastwatch aerial sightings data and global humpback habitat as models, the University of Queensland's Joshua Smith found two hot spots: east of Mackay, and in the Capricorn and Bunker island groups off Gladstone. Both ports are among at least seven on the Queensland coast slated for expansion. Dredging at Gladstone Harbour for a major gas terminal on Curtis Island has drawn the attention of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. It will decide in weeks whether urban and industrial expansion endangers World Heritage status. ''There is likely to be a greater reliance on the coastal waters of Mackay and Gladstone as the season progresses, and mothers with newborn calves utilise these areas more,'' he said in the journal Marine Ecology. *Age

Ed comment; Its good point! What will these extremely high shipping movements do to the migration of the humpback whales, and what will happen to the whalewatching Industry?

Dolphin and Seabird Deaths

Officials insist that the two die-offs are unrelated. The dolphins are succumbing to a virus, they suggest, and the seabirds are dying of starvation because anchovies are in short supply. But even three months after officials began testing the dolphins, the government has not released definitive results, and there is growing suspicion among the public and scientists that there might be more to the story. Some argue that offshore oil exploration could be disturbing wildlife, for example, and others fear that biotoxins or pesticides might be working their way up the food chain. [Lets hope its NOT that because that means just about all top predator life in the ocean is doomed... likewise, hope its not a virus either for same reason.]  At least 877 dolphins and more than 1,500 birds, most of them brown pelicans and boobies, have died since the government began tracking the deaths in February, the Environment Ministry said last week. The dolphins, many of which appeared to have decomposed in the ocean before washing ashore, were found in the Piura and Lambayeque regions, not far from the border with Ecuador. The seabirds, which seem mostly to have died onshore, have been found from Lambayeque to Lima. “Never in my 40 years as a fisherman have I seen anything like this,” said Francisco Ñiquen Rentería, the president of the Association of Artisanal Fishermen in Puerto Eten, in the Lambayeque region. “Sometimes in the past, you’d randomly see a dead dolphin or a pelican, but this, what’s happening now, is really alarming. It is odd indeed,”

Gabriel Quijandría, the deputy environment minister, acknowledged in an e-mail. “But they are not related.” The federal Ocean Institute has said that the most likely culprit in the dolphin deaths is the morbillivirus, from a family of viruses linked to previous mass deaths of marine mammals, Mr. Quijandría said, though officials in recent days have sounded less certain. For the seabirds, he wrote, the “most plausible hypothesis so far” from the National Agricultural Health Service is that they are dying from a lack of food, mainly anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), a Peruvian anchovy, as a result of the sudden heating of coastal waters. The Environment Ministry said the dolphin deaths had no link to fisheries, red tides or other biotoxins, bacteria, heavy metals or pesticides. It said it had also ruled out any connection to offshore seismic testing by companies to locate oil and gas deposits under the seabed. Still, fishermen, environmentalists and others suspect that government officials are not being completely candid. The discovery of dead animals on beaches near Lima, the capital, in recent days has complicated matters. Over the weekend, the Health Ministry issued an alert advising people to avoid the waters around Lima and to the north, “until we know the cause of the recent deaths of marine species.” –NY Times

Ed Comment; Sounds a bit like the Qld Government talking about Gladstone Harbor.....

Bats under Attack Again!

Bats are in the sights of the new State Government, with growers to be allowed kill permits to stop flying foxes repeatedly decimating their crops. Growers say they only want to open fire on "scouts" to deter colonies and that a "small minority" in Brisbane has hijacked the debate. Animal rights groups, however, claim humane methods are the only viable solution. The Newman Government has plans to overhaul the damage mitigation permit (DMP) system to allow faster approval and an increase in permit durations. The new Environment Minister, Andrew Powell, says lethal DMPs will only be issued to farmers "as an absolute last resort". The policy will focus on "huge congregations" in places such as Charters Towers, Gayndah, Barcaldine and Bargara. Nervousness after last year's 18 Hendra virus incidents, and the detection of the virus near Townsville in January, has seen the discussion heat up. Leading the call for a "serious culling program" is federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, who claims talk is being dominated by a "clear-cut value system that puts the lives of bats higher than the lives of human beings".

Mr Katter said those seeking the protection of flying fox colonies were "sick and warped" and were likely to "really hate human beings". RSPCA spokesman Mark Townend said advocates of widespread culling needed to "take the emotion out of it". "Once you start culling, it's very easy for something to trigger even more culling than is necessary," he said. Bats Queensland spokeswoman Jeannette Miles said culling had "never worked". "It's incredibly inhumane," she said. "Only about 5 per cent of bats are killed by a headshot, the rest die very slowly. "If it's not humane and effective, it's not acceptable in a civilised society." General manager of conservation, strategy and planning at the Department of National Parks, Clive Cook said flying fox numbers did not warrant culling. Mr Cook said flying foxes - a major pollinator of a very large number of native eucalypts - were largely misunderstood. He said encouraging them to move to new areas was the key.

Charters Towers Mayor Ben Callcott - who once said "we have got no dinosaurs and we should not have any bats either" - agrees. Cr Callcott, who has previously suggested using helicopters to scare away the bats, has proposed creating a new habitat to lure away the colony that has roosted in the town for the past 12 years. "We've tried everything in the book and it doesn't work," he said. Council plans to improve a 931ha site 3km from the edge of town to attract the colony, at a potential cost of $1.5 million over three years. But not everyone in town agrees. "There is the possibility of a $100,000 fine for the first man who picks up a gun and shoots a bat," Cr Callcott said. "People say to me, if a hundred of us go there, they won't know who to fine. I won't be a party to that."

Cr Vic Pennisi, from Stanthorpe, said farmers in the region couldn't afford most human mitigation techniques, but were willing to try to find a balance. "Most of them are saying they would be happy to adopt humane methods of control, if they can be told what they are," he said. Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers spokesman Peter Hocking said while non-lethal options had their "merits", they also had a number of "cons". He said growers were left with the option of using firearms to deter scouts. "It's a critical part of crop protection," he said. "It's really only for five or six weeks of peak harvest season that we need the damage mitigation permits." Stanthorpe vineyard owner Angelo Puglisi, 68, said the debate was being overrun by a "minority group". "You've got to be able to stand up to the people who say, 'oh the poor little things, they're almost extinct'," he said. "Is it going to take the death of half a dozen human beings before they do something about it?"

Mr Puglisi said farmers would only shoot scouts as a last resort. "Many years ago, we used to go out with the gun club - responsible people with guns - and you just shot and shot and shot until they took off and went back to wherever they came from," he said. "Sure you killed quite a few, you destroyed a few, but you got them to leave the area." He said growers didn't want to "go around killing animals for nothing". "We're not murderers," he said. The Federal Government yesterday announced it would hand decision-making to the states, giving the Queensland government the ultimate power to sanction the removal or dispersal of problem bat camps without first securing Commonwealth permission. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the proposal would remove unnecessary duplication but conservationists warned the second layer of bureaucracy was mechanism for protection. Queensland Conservation Council chairman Simon Baltais said flying foxes were increasingly encroaching on urban areas due to habitat destruction and said simply trying to move them on was a "short-term fix". "(The proposal) just speeds up a solution that's not going to work and pushes the problem on to somewhere else," Mr Baltais said. *Courier Mail

Help the Flying Foxes

If you have your copy of the today’s Courier Mail you will see the scurrilous headlines once again. It’s another cover story, front page pin up – it is sure to promote cruelty and further harassment so please keep your eyes and ears open. The minute you hear of any illegal activity against bats please call the DERM helpline 1300130372 and follow the crocodile prompts!  Our newly elected LNP Government are set to return lethal methods of crop protection and colony dispersals. There is sure to be a flying-fox question posed in their first sitting over the next 3 days, Tuesday to Thursday. We desperately need your support to help tell our politicians that his is nothing but cruel insanity. If you do nothing else to help bats this year, please write a letter of complaint to your local State Member of Parliament and also send the same letter to Messrs. Newman and Powell – perhaps Tony Bourke Federal Environment minister should get it too! Follow this link for their email addresses.

 Please review the Don’t Shoot Bats website to give yourself some knowledge of the present situation. Please send this link to your family and friends and encourage everybody that you know to write letters of complaint. Highlight the cruelty and futility of shooting and electrocution in your email and tell these politicians that as a society will not tolerate cruelty on any level.  Shooting doesn’t stop crop predation but exclusion netting does. This is fact.  Koalas future depends on the future of flying-foxes no me no tree. Koalas need bats – no me no tree.  The future of our forests is hanging in the balance.  The future of our beautiful, defenceless bats is too. Do your bit, think about what it’s going to be like for these poor animals and write your letters and emails:-

1.       Highlight the cruelty of shooting and the hardiness of these animals that can survive the most diabolical injuries for extended periods of time. As rescuers we know this is true as we see it all the time.

2.       The Government’s own Code of Practice for Carers states that the only acceptable method of humane euthanasia for native species is Lethabarb. How will the Government reconcile this fact with injured flying-foxes in orchards.

3.       Shooting is ineffective as crop protection as recommended by Government and Industry experts.

4.       Electrocution has the capacity to decimate entire populations of flying-foxes as demonstrated in a court action in 2001 when 18,000 Spectacled flying-foxes were killed in one 6 week period on one lychee farm in FN Queensland. One fifth of the world population of Speccies gone forever.

5.       Declining populations – 2 of the 4 species of flying-fox already Federally Listed as Vulnerable. The Government currently have no accurate population estimates for flying-fox numbers yet food shortage years like 2007 and 2010 continue to devastate populations, to allow shooting will push them over the edge.

6.       Ecological value as forest pollinators. No bats, no trees, no koalas.

 Thank you in anticipation, you are vitally important as you can make a difference if only to say to your self – I did send my letters I did try. We need you to do this – for the bats.   *Network Item


WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion today marked the start of the annual humpback whale migration along the Western Australian coast with the release of a new children?s book about whale rescues. Mr Marmion said the release of Deepsea Whale Rescue was timely as wildlife officers from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) had already received several early reports of whales along the coast including a pod of killer whales off Rottnest Island last month. “The 13,000km round-trip taken annually by humpback whales from Antarctica to warmer waters in WA’s north can take its toll on some animals because they use up a lot of energy during their journey. This usually results in many whale stranding incidents,” he said. “If anyone sees a distressed, injured, beached or entangled whale, it is important to keep a safe distance from the animal, particularly as they can weigh in excess of 40 tonnes. “DEC has a small group of highly skilled wildlife officers who respond to a number of humpback whale stranding and entanglement incidents each year. Last year the team responded to eight entangled and 17 beached humpback whales.”

The Minister said DEC was the only registered training organisation in Australia which delivered a nationally accredited unit of competence in relation to large whale disentanglement. “These wildlife officers are internationally renowned and WA is very lucky to have such skilled professionals to assist with whale incidents, which can be extremely complex and dangerous,” he said. “Their fantastic work over the years inspired the story for Deepsea Whale Rescue, which helps to raise awareness about the various challenges whales face on their annual migration. The book has been distributed to almost 3,000 schools nationwide and is a valuable educational resource for children.”  The west coast population of humpback whales is currently estimated at 28,800. *PerthNow

Feral Snails

First mice, now snails are threatening the harvest, with Yorke Peninsula farmers fighting a plague with burn-offs and sweeping stubble with cables.  Bait laid last November to combat the annual snail season has been eaten by mice populations and coupled with the right weather conditions has farmers predicting this year's snail numbers could be the highest ever. The slow-moving pests destroy crops by eating roots and stems and abrading the crops. They've afflicted landowners for nearly a century after they were accidentally introduced by a visiting ship. Warooka farmer Graham Hayes is one battling snails to ensure his harvested wheat crops were delivered to silos pest-free. "Last year we spent $48,000 on 30 tonne of metaldehyde bait and we also had our worst-ever year for crop damage," he said. "But nothing we do can control them 100 per cent."

Mr Hayes has burnt paddocks, bought giant steel rollers to crush the pests and has bought specialist machinery to clean and screen his harvested crop. "The 2010 harvest was a wet one and the snails had laid their eggs before we had even finished taking the crops off," Mr Hayes said. "What caught us out was the mice plague meant they cleaned up the bait before the snails could eat them." Ideal growing conditions for snails meant the problem was spreading to the Eyre Peninsula and South East, as well as to parts of WA, NSW and Victoria. Mr Hayes said farmers hoped a second stage of a Grains Research and Development Corporation trials that were working towards developing a snail-eating parasite would prove successful when it started on his property next week. "We desperately need a solution," he said.

"We need something to break their life-cycle and nothing available to us at the moment can achieve that. "There is a lot of land for sale around here and it costs a lot of money to control snails. While the number on the market is not just because of the snails, it would be a factor that is contributing to the situation." SA Research and Development Institute entomologist Greg Barker said the impact of the pest "would be in the tens of millions of dollars nationally". "We eagerly await the trial results, which should be ready to analyse in two months," Mr Barker said. * SA news
Ed Comment; Perhaps if they hadnt destroyed all the habitat, and killed of the raptors, they may not have this problem?


Second-hand accounts of a casual chat about Canberra's regular kangaroo culls over dinner at an Australian National University forum on climate change turned the talk into a "serious threat of physical violence" against ANU researchers, one of the participants in the conversation believes.  The Australian revealed this month that 10 of 11 documents found in the wake of a Freedom of Information request lodged with the ANU after reports in Fairfax Media and on the ABC of "death threats" against climate scientists at the university were found by the Privacy Commissioner not to "contain threats to kill or threats of harm". An 11th, the commissioner ruled, "could be regarded as intimidating and at its highest perhaps alluding to a threat". But he added: "I consider the danger to life or physical safety in this case to be only a possibility, not a real chance." The email says: "Looks like we've had our first serious threat of physical violence." A climate sceptic taking part in a deliberative democracy project on climate change in May 2010, it continues, "showed other participants his gun licence and explained to them how good a sniper he is". Retired Canberra public servant and 20-year kangaroo culler John Coochey believes he is the kangaroo culler referred to.

Mr Coochey took part in the first day of the project. At a dinner for participants, he says, he was approached by the ACT's then commissioner for sustainability and the environment, Maxine Cooper, whom he knew over matters to do with kangaroo culling, a vexed issue in Canberra. Dr Cooper, Mr Coochey says, asked how he had gone in the annual accreditation test cullers are required to pass. "I answered that I had top-gunned it with a perfect score," he told The Australian.  "I also showed her my new culling - not firearms - licence." Mr Coochey says he realised some fellow participants might have been disquieted by kangaroo shooting, so he "made small talk" about the marksmanship expertise needed to gain the licence. "This has now been portrayed as 'showing a firearms licence and boasting about my ability as a sniper'," he complained yesterday. The Australian was yesterday unable to contact Dr Cooper, now the ACT Auditor-General. The co-ordinator of the project, ANU academic Simon Niemeyer, said last night he had not been privy to the conversation. Mr Coochey said he had heard "absolutely nothing" from the university since. "If I had intended anyone any harm would I have advertised the fact knowing that there was a clear trail back to me?" he asked. *The Australian