Monday, June 4, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 5/6/12

Hunting in National Parks

National parks in NSW will be opened up to recreational hunters as part of a deal between the Shooters and Fishers Party and the government to ensure passage of its electricity privatisation bill. The decision, announced by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, this morning, represents a significant backdown by the Premier, who has repeatedly ruled out allowing shooting in National Parks. The government's electricity privatisation bill has been stalled in the NSW upper house because of a lack of support from Shooters and Fisher's Party MPs, who share the balance of power. It needs the support of at least one of the MPs to pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens. The government announced today that the Game and Feral Animal Control Act will be amended to allow shooting of feral animals in "a limited number of areas under strict conditions" but not near metropolitan areas or wilderness or world heritage areas.
Read more:

Sign a Petition  ..

We understand National Park rangers are refusing to help the NSW government allow hunters into national parks. "Industrial action like this is not a decision we take lightly but we simply cannot let the state government's compromise of our national parks to go ahead" they say. On Thursday, the state opposition referred Premier Barry O'Farrell to the state's corruption watchdog, accusing him of offering financial inducements to Shooters Party MPs for their vote on his power sell-off.

Ed Comment; What a terrible decision by this Government, held to ransome by a very much minority bunch of rednecks. I guess we could say its the beginning of the end for National Parks. Mind you, the previous NSW Labor government were going to allow this too.....and for the same get the Shooters support for privatisation of the power grid! Same old, same old ........

The NSW and Victorian governments have been funding recreational hunting and opening access to public lands on the basis that hunters can control feral animals. But evidence (including the failure of numerous bounties) shows that, at best, hunters can only supplement more effective methods of feral animal control or provide control in small, accessible areas. Funding recreational hunting as a primary method of control is a waste of taxpayers’ money. There is also the risk that opening up public lands to hunting creates an incentive for maverick hunters to shift feral animals into new areas – as has occurred particularly with pigs and deer. The Invasive Species Council has been working with other environment groups to oppose the NSW Shooters Party legislation to expand hunting into national parks, allow private hunting reserves, and permit the release of exotic birds ( for sport shooting) rated as a serious or extreme pest threat by Australian governments. * Read more  ..


They've only been seen a handful of times over the last 100 years.  But one of Australia's rarest birds, the princess parrot, has been discovered on Newhaven Reserve, about 500 kilometres north west of Alice Springs. Bird enthusiasts from across the country are jumping in their cars, and booking plane tickets, to see the arid zone bird. *ABC

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna exposed to radioactivity that leaked into the Pacific Ocean after Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi power plants were damaged by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 201l, carried that radioactivity to the waters off California, a new study by scientists from Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station has revealed. And while the radioactivity levels in the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) posed no public health threat, these findings represent the first documented instance of the transport of radioactive materials in the sea through a biological migration. The study, "Pacific Bluefin Tuna Transport Fukushima-Derived Radionuclides from Japan to California" has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US. The research was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Read More ..


Butterfly numbers in the UK countryside fell by almost a quarter last summer, according to a new scientific study. The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) revealed that butterflies suffered a disappointing 2011 compared to 2010 with recorders seeing 22% fewer butterflies on average. Last year's record-breaking cold summer and the ongoing deterioration of suitable butterfly habitat across the countryside are seen as causes for the fall in numbers. Meanwhile, a new study led by scientists in the Department of Biology at the University of York has shown how a butterfly has changed its diet, and consequently has sped northwards in response to climate change. Their study is published in the latest issue of Science.
The researchers found that warmer summers have allowed the Brown Argus butterfly to complete its life cycle by eating wild Geranium plants. Because the Geraniums are widespread in the British countryside, this change in diet has allowed the butterfly to expand its range in Britain at a surprisingly rapid rate. Over the past 20 years, the Brown Argus has spread northwards by around 79 kilometres and has become common in the countryside in much of southern England.*Wildlife Extra


Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Rehabilitation Centre in Martin is a finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Day Awards. The centre is one of three finalists for the Biodiversity category in the awards, which recognise outstanding environmental programs, leaders and initiatives across Australia as part of celebrations for the UN World Environment Day on June 5. The other two finalists are Victoria’s Hume City Council for its Caring for our Plains program, and Walpole’s Gary Muir, who led the team that invented the Phyto Fighter 1000, a wash-down station to prevent the spread of dieback disease. Centre manager Chris Phillips or another member from the centre’s staff is expected to attend the awards presentation dinner at Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt on June 8. The Black Cockatoo Preservation Society rescues injured, or starving, black cockatoos, gets them veterinary care and nurses them back to health for release, where possible, into the wild. More than 100 volunteers make up most of its workforce. Mr Phillips will soon leave the centre to continue his work with black cockatoos at the Department of Environment and Conservation. This year, Mr Phillips won both the Premier’s Australia Day Active Citizenship Award and the City of Gosnells’ Citizen of the Year Award, for his environmental, volunteering and fundraising work. *

Native Plant Guide

Here is a fantastic Free Native Plant eBook guide to download!

Duck Shooting

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has done a "dirty deal" with the Shooters Party to overturn a 20-year ban on duck hunting and protect hunters from protesters, the NSW opposition claims. Shooters MP Robert Borsak is quoted on the website as saying a form of duck and quail hunting will be introduced by the end of the year. Legislation would also be introduced to protect "hunters (and) to prevent harassment from protesters". The concessions were made as part of negotiations to get the minor party's support on the privatisation of the state's power generators, the website said. Mr O'Farrell is already under fire for agreeing to allow recreational hunters to shoot feral animals in some national parks, and has been referred to the corruption watchdog over claims he offered financial inducements to Shooters Party MPs. *Nine 
  Read more  ...


The National Parks and Wildlife Service is warning mid north coast residents of the potential dangers of kangaroos. The service has had reports of around half a dozen incidents in the Port Macquarie area involving kangaroos attacking people over summer. Spokesman Lawrence Orel said it is important to remember they are wild animals and unpredictable. He said the best way to avoid conflict is to avoid close contact.  "Growling or standing tall often with the paws outstretched is another signal that you really need to be stopping what you're doing," he said. "Back away and if it escalates to the animal pawing or scratching you, you need to drop to the ground and curl into a ball.  "Certainly resisting tends to only escalate the incident." Mr Orel said urban expansion may have contributed to the kangaroo attacks over the summer in the Port Macquarie area. He said rural residential properties with large areas of grass and a few shade trees are particularly appealing to kangaroos. Mr Orel said it is especially important not to feed them. "Feeding them just reduces their natural fear of humans," he said. "Then they simply see other humans as a source of food. "Also reduce some of the things that attract kangaroos into particularly your backyard.  "Things like creating exclusion fencing or modifying the vegetation.  "That just reduces the appeal of your backyard to kangaroos." *ABC

AZWH Patient of the Week

Found,  Rachel the Echidna, after being attacked by a pet dog in a backyard at Kin Kin. Transported to a local vet and then on to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment and care. Dr Amber assessed Rachel and found she had suffered several puncture wounds to her body as a result of the dog attack, with an especially deep one on her back reaching all the way down to muscle. Dr Amber administered Rachel pain relief and anaethetised her before cleaning her wounds. A drain was placed in the deepest wound and remained there for five days. She was then transferred to a local wildlife carer until fully recovered. Outcome: Rachel’s wounds healed nicely, and she was recently released back into her natural habitat in the area where she was found. AZWH Statistic: Rachel is the eighteenth echidna to be treated at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital so far in 2012. *AZWH


A Tasmanian scientist’s research - and Bruny Island - might be the only things between the Australian native eastern quoll and extinction.  Tassie is the breeding ground for the last population of the quolls.  University of Tasmania researcher Bronwyn Fancourt has used sightings from the past two decades to confirm Tassie’s numbers are fast declining except on Bruny Island, which has a healthy population of quolls.  Research supervisor UTAS zoology professor Chris Johnson said Bruny Island was the last bastion for eastern quolls.  They flourished in numbers two to three times higher than the main island.  Prof Johnson, who has a special interest in extinction biology, said Ms Fancourt’s work might prevent the extinction of the quoll. “Species disappear very quickly,” Prof Johnson said.  “People are complacent. By the time you realise something has gone wrong, it is too late.  “That’s the value of Bronwyn’s work; we’re on to it, understanding what’s happening and, hopefully, why, before it’s too late.”  Ms Fancourt’s research has linked the decline to feral cats.  Prof Johnson said Ms Fancourt was careful about collecting data and drawing conclusions as feral cat eradication was hard. “Cats are very secretive and smart. They are not easy to find in the spotlight and they are difficult to trap,” he said. *Mercury


Today an adult female brush tail possum was found, shot with a steel spear gun shaft. It pierced her through the abdomen, and injured her joey (who had to be put down due to injuries). A member of the public brought her into a local vet clinic at Norman Park, where both mum and baby were transferred to RSPCA Wildlife Hospital, so the Inspectorate could take information, and we could perform an autopsy. We are appealing for any information regarding this case. The incident occurred in Norman Park, and the culprit likely owns a spear gun. If you know anything, please call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) or email If you know someone in Norman Park who owns a spear gun, then please report it - any lead will help us get to the bottom of this callous act. Animals shot with arrows in Queensland recently include birds, possums, wallabies, kangaroos, a bush turkey, and seabirds, crows, koalas, and magpies have been shot with bullets or pellets.* RSPCA

Gt Barrier Reef

Environment groups have called for an immediate halt to development around the Great Barrier Reef after a United Nations report expressed ‘‘extreme concern’’ about its future. In a report released early this morning UNESCO said no further major development should go ahead without an overall assessment of the reef’s health. ‘‘Considering the high rate of approvals over the past 12 years, this unprecedented scale of development affecting or potentially affecting the property poses serious concerns over its long-term conservation,’’ the UNESCO report found. It says the area could be listed as a World Heritage Site in danger if ‘‘threatening’’ developments are allowed to proceed. UNESCO says the ‘‘in danger’’ status could be applied if the federal government does not give the world heritage committee evidence of substantial progress before February 1 next year. The Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, said he was not surprised by UNESCO's finding
Read more:

Activists halt Second Canberra kangaroo cull.

Australian Society for Kangaroos activists have halted another kangaroo cull at Canberra nature reserves for a second night running. Last night protesters entered Goorooyaroo Nature Park after hearing shots fired within the park. They entered the park with torches, and making loud noises to attract the attention of shooters, and witnessed what they believe was shooters throwing dead kangaroos into a trailer. The shooters left the area after seeing the protesters, and police arrived soon after. Shooting was halted for the rest of the night. For a second night running protesters have halted planned kangaroo slaughters conducted by the Canberra government. ASK and local activists have maintained a constant vigil at the nine nature reserves and have intervened and halted at least two operating culls. ASK president Nikki Sutterby said today: "These culls are not only cruel and unnecessary but they are putting the Canberra public at serious risk.

These shootings are being carried out just metres from major highways and are sending terrified kangaroos into traffic at peak hour. Last night while shooting occurred at Goorooyaroo a large male kangaroo fled the park and caused a serious accident on the Federal Highway which adjoins the reserve. The collision caused major damage to the vehicle and put at risk the lives of the driver". The car was later towed away. "The ACT public has been lied to about these slaughters. They have no evidence that kangaroos are impacting on any native species and I challenge the ACT government to provide this evidence. In fact the grass is so long in the reserves due to high rainfall and the decimation of the kangaroo population that the parks are now also now a serious wildfire risk to the Canberra public".  "We will not walk away from this. We will continue our fight to stop this brutal and unnecessary slaughter of our national icon", said Nikki Sutterby. * The Ask Frontline Action Team

There's a lack of clarity in the science on this serious issue, Dana Campbell writes

The news last week that the ACT government has authorised the culling of 2015 Eastern Grey kangaroos across nine nature reserves is yet another example of the dangerous influence that out-dated science exerts in our government's wildlife management policies. The slaughter of more than 2000 kangaroos is not a step the ACT government should be taking lightly, yet lack of clarity around the science validating the culls should be enough to warrant more research before such drastic action is taken. The death of joeys as ''collateral damage'' to the killing of female kangaroos should be cause enough for hesitation. Young joeys are killed or left to die when their mothers are shot. Justifying the ACT government's decision, director of Parks and Conservation Daniel Iglesias said that the culling of more than 2000 kangaroos between May 22 and June 12 this year was ''needed to maintain populations at appropriate levels to protect the integrity of ecosystems, several of which contain endangered flora and fauna'' and that the 2000 number had been based on kangaroo counts in each location. But where is the evidence that culling kangaroos will protect those endangered flora and fauna? The ACT Kangaroo Management Plan aims to reduce kangaroo populations to 0.5 a hectare but the scientific credibility of this ''target'' is severely lacking and has been criticised by leading kangaroo ecologists.

Read more:

All nine nature parks are eerily quiet. The rangers police and security are all but gone. Patrols are now increasing in case the government changes tactics. The patrols will remain in place for as long as it takes. Activists are on high alert at all times. If anyone is able to come to Canberra and help, you will be made most welcome. Please contact ASK asap. ASK would like to thank each and every one of you for your encouragement support and love.  Knowing you guys are all out there thinking of us has been overwhelming and so important for us.
The fact is we are all in this together and the combined energy of you all is fuelling a massive swing against this cruel and barbaric wildlife slaughter. The Canberra media is also realising that there are many unanswered questions relating to this slaughter in the ACT.The Canberra Times link here is an example of the tone emerging within Canberra, and the questions that are now being asked.

We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the brave and selfless warriors who are here in Canberra putting their lives on the line for our precious kangaroos. There is an amazing team of people now on the front line in Canberra that is making this massive action possible. This team has put in place a 24 hour patrol of every nature park on the ACT's kill list and is ready to act at the first sigh of shooting. This team is made up of ASK, Animal Liberation ACT, Wildlife Rescuers Victoria, WRES, and many other very dedicated front line activists from the ACT, NSW and South Australia.  We thank you all.  FOR THE KANGAS!!!!!!!!!   *ASK Action Team

Just a note to let you guys know that the cull of 2015 kangaroos in the ACT continues. About thirty brave protesters, including people from SA and Vic, have gone on to shooting sites and caused the killing to be suspended. In some cases, kangas have been assisted to get out of enclosed areas. The shooting officiaofficially ends June 12 but as the shooters use night vision equipment to hide their whereabouts, the peak time is when the moon is almost full - now. Meanwhile a couple of daysof rain have temporarily stopped the kill. * Protest update

Activists witnessed another night of the kangaroo cull at several Nature Reserves in the early hours of the morning on Friday 1 June 2012. One of the areas where activists reported shooting was Kama Nature Reserve, near Hawker. Shortly after the shooting had ceased on Kama Nature Reserve, the activists came across a kangaroo body left behind in the Reserve.  The kangaroo had only recently died from a very fresh shot wound in the head (see photo attached).

Given that the Government’s contractors had been shooting in the same Nature Reserve that very night, it is difficult not to conclude that the animal had been shot as part of the Government’s cull and left behind to die a slow and painful death.  This directly contradicts statements from the Government that each animal shot is accounted for and taken away.  Daniel Iglesias, Territory and Municipal Services Parks and Conservation Director, recently stated that shot kangaroos are immediately removed from the area by the contractors.  He also stated that they follow “a very, very scripted process whereby when the animal is shot, it's identified, it's retrieved and it's disposed of and we account for every single one, to the point where at the end of the night, there is not one animal left behind.”

Yet according to Animal Liberation ACT spokesperson Carolyn Drew, “Shooting was heard by activists early in the morning on 1 June near where the dead kangaroo was found. Several ranger trucks were surrounding the area and police were about. This kangaroo is believed to be connected to the cull because he was found at the very nature reserve they were shooting at, which activists later entered. Unless a member of the public entered the nature reserve and shot a kangaroo at the same time the cull was taking place, then this kangaroo is likely to be connected to the so called “humane” government sanctioned cull currently taking place”.

Animal Liberation ACT opposes the ongoing government sanctioned culls. Ms Drew emphasised that “kangaroos are shot at night and far from any welfare inspectors. Shots often do not hit their lawful target, which is the animal’s brain, and young kangaroos die slowly of exposure and starvation without their mothers. Also, joeys are taken from their shot mothers’ pouches and then killed by decapitation. The ACT Government has given no compelling reason or evidence as to why the slaughter needs to continue”.

Petition here  ..

Road Kill

Heathcote and Bendigo have the highest rates of animal-related motor accidents in Victoria, RACV figures have revealed. The two places recorded the most RACV claims resulting from animal collisions in the 2010-11 financial year. The RACV received 41 claims for animal accidents in Heathcote over the year and Bendigo had the second highest in the state with 36 claims. The region with the third-highest rate was Portland with 28, while Ballarat recorded 26 claims. Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service co-founder Jo Lyall said the Bendigo and Heathcote areas were notorious for wildlife deaths. She said WRES was called to a huge amount of road accidents across the Bendigo region. “It’s a high-strike area, but it doesn’t need to be a high-strike area,” she said. “If people are more vigilant on the roads it wouldn’t be so bad.” Across the state accidents involving kangaroos accounted for 67 per cent of animal collision claims, followed by incidents involving dogs at 10 per cent of all claims and wombats at 7 per cent.

The total repair cost for all kangaroo-related claims across Victoria was almost $7 million, with an average of about $3,230 per claim. Ms Lyall said around Bendigo the rate of kangaroos being hit was close to 80 per cent of all animal accidents. “We bulldoze through kangaroo land and expect them not to cross the road,” she said. “We’re on the roads 24/7 getting called out to dead kangaroos.” The RACV insurance claims figures showed that 3160 motor vehicle claims in the 2010-11 financial year were a result of animal collisions. RACV insurance general manager Paul Northey said the figures indicated animal-related motor vehicle accidents were more common during the cooler months of the year and at dawn. He said motorists should be constantly aware that animals may unexpectedly run onto the road. “Crashing into a medium to large-sized kangaroo not only causes serious vehicle damage, it can also injure the vehicle driver and passengers,” Mr Northey said.“The risk can be significantly reduced by driving within the speed limit and at a speed appropriate to the prevailing conditions, especially when visibility is lower.” Bendigo Advertiser

Kangaroo Decapitated

A gruesome discovery in Bunbury has made a local teenager put a call out for justice on animal cruelty. The teenager was driving with a friend along a busy Bunbury road when she spotted a kangaroo head on the footpath last Thursday night. According to the teenager, who did not want to be named, the head had been positioned in the middle of the footpath on Ocean Drive and could not see a body in sight. She said the head was cleanly cut, with minimum blood and looked as if it had been positioned on the footpath as a joke. "I was really disgusted and appalled that someone would do this to a young kangaroo,” they said. The teenager reported the incident to police but they could not do anything because it was not domestic. Disgusted by the act, the teenager contacted the Bunbury Mail. The head was removed by the morning but it is not known how or when. A spokesman from the City of Bunbury also confirmed that kangaroos are not common along Ocean Drive. An investigation is currently taking place by the Department of Environ-ment and Conservation. The penalties for taking protected fauna, including Western Grey Kangaroos carries a penalty of up to $4,000 under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950. A 24-hour hotline for wildlife injuries can also be reported on 9474 9055. The Bunbury Mail attained a photograph of the kangaroo head on the footpath but chose not to publish the photograph because it would be offensive or disturbing for readers. * Bunbury Mail

Green Turtles

Fear of a future green turtle "man drought" has led scientists to fence off parts of the world's biggest turtle breeding ground off the tip of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.  About 50 turtles died after toppling off rock ledges and eroded cliffs and dying in the sun on remote Raine Island last nesting season. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt said protecting nesting turtles was vital for the future population on the reef and in the Indo Pacific. "Climate change threatens to dramatically influence the future ratio of male and female turtles, which can impact on their population,'' Dr Reichelt said. "The sex of green turtles is determined during incubation by environmental conditions particularly the temperature of their nest, with warmer temperatures producing more female hatchlings.

"Based on predictions of warming over the coming 50 years, it's predicted that we'll have far more female than male hatchlings, and this may have a long term impact on the population." Mature female turtles have the potential to produce between 4000 and 8000 eggs in a lifetime. "We're focusing on protecting the adult turtles to reduce the risk of the species' decline,'' Dr Reichelt said. Field staff this year found just two dead turtles after the eroded cliffs on the coral atoll were fenced off. Raine Island, near the tip of Australia, is the site of the biggest gathering of green turtles on the planet with more than 100,000 turtles in the water and more than 14,000 on the beach counted in one night. *Courier Mail


Dolphins are being put at risk of serious injury and even death by fisherman who feed them illegally in Cockburn Sound, according to researchers from Murdoch University. In a decade-long study by the Murdoch University Catacean Research Group and the Conservation Medicine Program, which was recently published in the London journal of Animal Conservation, researchers found the number of bottlenose dolphins which begged recreational fisherman for food increased from one to at least 14 – representing 20 per cent of the 75 adult dolphins which live in the popular Perth waterway. CMC Marine Biologist Bec Donaldson said dolphins which swam up to boats in search of food were at much higher risk of being hit by a boat or becoming entangled in discarded fishing line. “There are examples of dolphins that became beggars at Cockburn Sound, which are swimming around without fins after they were cut off by propellers and other dolphins with huge propeller scars across their backs,” Ms Donaldson said. “You could imagine a calf being injured like that – it probably wouldn’t survive.”

During the course of the study, Ms Donaldson was alarmed and surprised to find dolphins were learning from each other to beg and she saw evidence of a young calf learning to beg from her mother. “It’s so unusual to see animals learning harmful behaviours from each other.” "If people do not feed dolphins, they will not get the opportunity to learn this damaging and dangerous behaviour from each other.” Ms Donaldson said feeding the mammals could put them at a greater risk of shark attacks and have an adverse affect on the mammals’ reproductive success as they become separated from their group in their obsessive quest to get handouts from boats. “How will male dolphins have time for finding mates when they’re so obsessed with boats?” “It’s also concerning because in winter when there are less boats around and they can’t get enough fish from fisherman they haven’t necessarily learnt all the complicated skills to do with catching their own fish.” Ms Donaldson said humans who fed the dolphins were also putting themselves in danger of being bitten. It is illegal to feed dolphins under state and federal law and offenders can be hit with fines of up to $10,000. *The West

Flying Foxes

Scientists using ticks to kill bats and halt the spread of the potentially deadly Hendra virus are nervous about using biological controls after the disaster of cane toads, an expert says. Paralysis ticks kill thousands of bats on the Atherton Tableland in far north Queensland every breeding season. Townsville expert Dr Lee Skerratt said research had found the paralysis tick (ixodes holocyclus) was unlikely to meet strict criteria of a biological agent against plague proportions of spectacled flying foxes. But, inexplicably, such a high death rate has not been found in other heavily populated flying fox camps. "Some scientists do cringe at the mention of biological controls," said Dr Skerratt, a parasitologist who also works on toads. "But they should not. Some methods have been very effective. There have been some success stories." He said rabbits would be in plague proportions without myxomatosis, while the use of cactoblastis against prickly pear was a classic example of a useful biological control agent. Dr Skerratt said it was believed the bats came into contact with ground-dwelling ticks when they moved lower to feed on wild tobacco in the state's far north.

Tolga Bat Hospital's Jenny Maclean, who cares for more than 50 orphaned flying foxes every year, said a 12-gauge shotgun would be a preferred control method over tick paralysis deaths. "Here on the Tableland, thousands of bats die every tick season between September and January, peaking in November. "It is a native tick and the same one that kills lots of dogs and cats along the east coast. "It is a horrible death, the little animals gasp themselves to death, their breathing muscles and heart and lungs get paralysed, and it takes days for them to die. You'd be better off shooting them and make sure you kill them. "It is a long-winded way of going about giving them a horrible death." The bat lover said she was against any culling option. "Flying foxes are intelligent, smart animals that look you in the eye and do marvels for the environment in seed dispersal. "Because they are such a vilified animal, I feel someone has to stand up for them." She said the Tableland was a hot-spot for tick paralysis but it remained unknown why the parasites did not have such a kill rate farther south.
*The Courier Mail....Who else would print such rubbish.....

The relocation of the colony of flying-foxes at the Botanic Gardens will begin at sunset tonight, the Gardens Trust has confirmed. Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Director Mark Savio said the relocation would begin at sunset today in accordance with strict conditional approvals from the NSW and Federal Governments, after a two-year delay. “The relocation plan is designed to protect the welfare of the animals and halt the damage being done to the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney,” Mr Savio said. “We have a small window of opportunity to act now when the colony is at its seasonal low and at its least vulnerable. “The relocation strategy is based on the successful relocation of the grey-headed flying-fox colony at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne,” he said. Mr Savio said the relocation plan involved playing intermittent recorded noise for up to 45 minutes before dawn and 30 minutes around sunset.  The noise disturbance will be focussed in the centre of the Garden, near the Palm Grove, where approximately 3,000 flying foxes currently return from their night-time foraging to sleep during the day.

“We’re very pleased the relocation is finally underway after five years of planning,” Mr Savio said. “The flying-foxes are slowly destroying the Garden. Their roosting has killed 28 trees and 30 palms, including some irreplaceable heritage species. A further 60 plants are on the critical list. “Strict approval conditions require that the flying-foxes relocate to suitable locations away from homes. If they settle in unsuitable locations, we’re committed to moving them on from there,” Mr Savio said. The relocation is expected to take several weeks and can only be undertaken between May to July. In accordance with NSW and Federal Government approvals, a monitoring and tracking study study is supporting the relocation. It has included ‘banding’ more than 400 flying-foxes with personalised colours to more easily identify where they go and fitting 100 flying-foxes with satellite transmitters to map their movements.  Mr Savio said monitoring over the past two years has shown that flying-foxes located within the Royal Botanic Garden move readily between existing colonies and they are most likely to relocate there. “If anyone comes across a flying-fox, they should not touch it,” Mr Savio said. “Flying-foxes are passive creatures and generally would not harm humans. However, in rare instances a bite or scratch can cause harm. If the animal seems hurt or injured, call WIRES on 1300 094 737 or Sydney Wildlife 02 9413 4300 for assistance. People can also call the Flying-fox Infoline on (02) 9231 8122 for more information.
The bat relocation has been strongly opposed by animal advocates and a court battle delayed the controversial relocations plans. At its peak, the Botanic Gardens colony amounts to 5 per cent of the entire populaiton of the species. Bat advocates say the relocation could have obvious negative impacts on the colony. The grey-headed flying foxes are listed as a threatened species.

Kangaroo Industry

The future of the kangaroo meat industry hangs in the balance after trade talks with its largest customer failed to resolve a three-year import ban. Kangaroo meat exports have plummeted since Russia closed its market in 2009, with the industry estimating losses of $2 million a week. Kangaroo Industry Association chief executive Joe Kelly said government attempts to reopen the Russian market, which used to take 70 per cent of exports, had failed. He said 11 processing plants had closed, with the loss of 2000 jobs. "There's no light at the end of the tunnel and the federal government has effectively not achieved anything in terms of access to Russia," Mr Kelly said. "The industry is in the worst place it has ever been." He said costs flowed beyond $2m a week, because crops were damaged by an overpopulation of kangaroos, there were job losses in towns and more car crashes caused by roos on roads.Trade Minister Craig Emerson, who was in Russia last week for Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meetings, said yesterday the issue was "complex". "The government has and will continue to actively pursue the resumption of kangaroo meat exports to Russia at the highest levels," he said.

Last August, Australian officials drafted a memorandum of understanding in an attempt to resume exports, but Russia's trade commissioner to Australia, Yuri Aleshin, said negotiations were still under way."It is not signed yet because the authorities are still in talks," he said. "The memorandum of understanding has some terms under which Russia can open their market but there is not an obligation from Russia's side to open it." One of the largest kangaroo exporters, Ray Borda, said it was not known why 'roo meat was put on Russia's "access suspension list" of 300 meat producers. "We have complied with everything they wanted since they put us on the temporary ban list." He said the government had made little effort to help the industry since the ban. Kangaroo shooter Garry Gebhardt, from Burra in the mid-north of South Australia, said recent rain meant the kangaroo population was booming. "With demand so low for kangaroo right now, the price of meat has dropped and the processors have asked us to slow supply because they can't sell it." *Australian


A town in India is living in fear of a swarm of venomous spiders, which last month left two people dead after being bitten.  It may sound like a B-grade horror movie, but residents of the town of Sadiya, in Assam state, say that on the evening of May 8 as they were celebrating a Hindu festival swarms of spiders suddenly appeared and attacked them, The Times of India reported. Over the next few days two people -- a man, Purnakanta Buragohain, and an unnamed school boy -- died after being bitten by the spiders. Scores more turned up at the town's hospital with spider bites. District authorities are panicking and are considering spraying the town with the insecticide DDT. Locals say the most terrifying aspect is that spiders appear in swarms and their behavior is highly aggressive. "It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched on to them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully. The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful," head of the department of life sciences at Dibrugarh University Dr L.R. Saikia said.

Teams of Indian arachnid experts have flocked to the town, hoping to identify the species, but so far they have drawn a blank. They say it could be a tarantula, a black wishbone or even a funnel-web spider -- or it could be a whole new species. One thing they agree on is that it is not native to the area as there is no record of venomous spiders in Assam. The black wishbone and funnel-web are native to Australia. Researchers are also still running tests to find out the toxicity of the spiders' venom. Dr Anil Phatowali, superintendent of the town's hospital, said they had not administered antivenin as they could not be certain the spider was venomous at all. He also pointed out other factors may have contributed to the two reported fatalities. "All the bite patients first went to witch doctors, who cut open their wounds with razors, drained out blood and burnt it. That could have also made them sick," Dr Phatowali said. *Courier Mail

Kangaroo Killer Walks

A man who ran over a kangaroo and threw away it's still-live joey before dragging the dead adult animal behind his car for almost 12km has escaped an immediate jail sentence and been placed on a community corrections order. Nigel Franks leaves Wodonga Court today surronded by animal activists with kangaroo pictures in frames.  Nigel Franks, 20, pleaded guilty before Wodonga Magistrates' Court this morning to charges of aggravated animal cruelty, dangerous driving, careless driving, public nuisance and driving an unregistered car in relation to the January 11 incident. Franks was driving a maroon Holden Commodore when he ran over the adult eastern grey kangaroo near Huon Hill outside Wodonga, allegedly earlier telling friends if he saw a kangaroo he would attempt to kill it. Although a range of charges were withdrawn, documents filed before the court claim Franks stomped on the kangaroo's head after running over it and, despite protestations from others in the car, took a live joey from it's pouch and threw it over his shoulder into an adjacent paddock.

Charges relating to intentionally hitting the kangaroo were withdrawn due to evidentiary factors, but an aggravated animal cruelty charge proceeded in relation to the joey. Franks later used rope around the adult kangaroo's neck to tie the animal to the rear of his car and joked with friends of an intention to drive to a local McDonald’s restaurant. He drove around the area before heading into Wodonga, dragging the animal a distance estimated at 11.5km, before a passenger cut the rope at a set of pedestrian lights in High St, leaving the kangaroo in the middle of the road. Magistrate Stella Stuthridge sentenced Franks to six months jail, suspended for 12 months, ordered he complete a 12-month community corrections order, pay a $750 fine and that his licence be cancelled for six months. In sentencing, Magistrate Stuthridge said she took note of a psychologist's report and the need for Franks to undergo further psychological treatment but said she failed to understand his reasons for the offences. "The offence is appalling," she said. *Herald Sun