Monday, August 20, 2012

Wildlife Bytes Australia 21/8/12


ABC Lateline are running a story about the kangaroo Industry on Lateline tonight (Tuesday 21st) ... dont miss it!!

Turtles and Dugongs

Bob irwin and colinwhocares shocked at GBRMPA report on turtles and dugongs


Heres an interesting possum website......

Wildlife Corridors

A Step in the right direction... Qld Gov plans to buy up land to create wildlife corridors...The Queensland Government wants to hear from landowners in south-east Queensland interested in selling properties that could become protected koala habitat. Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the Government wanted to purchase land identified as suitable for long-term protection and was inviting expressions of interest from property owners.    The focus of the purchases will be land within the local government areas of Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Brisbane, Redland, Logan, Gold Coast, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Ipswich and Somerset. The land will be assessed against a range of habitat parameters and wherever possible, the land would also be available to the public for recreational use and increased opportunities for people to see koalas in the wild. With koalas listed as vulnerable to extinction in south-east Queensland, increasing the protection of their habitat through programs such as this is vital for the long-term survival of this iconic species. Expressions of interest opened on 14 August and will close on 31 October. * Courier Mail


The Sunshine Coast Koala and Wildlife Rescue Service says the Queensland Government will need to spend more money to protect koalas. The Government has allocated $22.5 million over the next three years to buy land in areas where koalas are under threat. The plan applies to 10 council areas in south-east Queensland and rescue service president Ray Chambers says it is a step in the right direction. He says the money is likely to be exhausted quickly. "You have a look at Noosa, for example, you'd suck $10 million up straight away there, so it will go quick but they've really got to work on now whether the koala numbers are," he said. "Like Noosa is virtually the only coastal fringe on the coast, so that's going to be the high value area, the same through Redlands ... on the waterfront there, so it is going to go fast so we need to work out deals." *ABC

National Parks

The (previous) Queensland Government bought three Cape York cattle stations for $12.6 million, protecting 515,000ha of Aboriginal land and habitat for the endangered golden shouldered parrot.  Dixie and Wulpan stations on central Cape York were bought in February, while Crosbie Station, to the southwest towards Kowanyama, was bought in 2009. All were pastoral leases and voluntary acquisitions. The land is to be divided between the Olkola people and areas deemed worthy of conservation. Negotiations were conducted before the election but it is a tricky issue for the State Government because National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said earlier this month he was looking at closing 875,000ha of newly-allocated parks so they could be used for grazing and logging. Mr Dickson's office was unable to say yesterday if the stations would be part of the review, if they would be returned to grazing or if they would go on to become national parks. Environment Department Cape York Peninsula tenure resolution branch director Buzz Symonds said the stations were bought as part of the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program, set up to resolve tenure issues on 20 parcels of state-owned land. Negotiations were expected to be completed, tenure transferred and protected areas dedicated mid next year, he said. The Federal Government contributed $7.8 million and the Queensland Government $1.2 million for Dixie-Wulpan. Their combined area is 402,000ha. The Queensland Government paid $3.6 million for Crosbie. *Courier Mail


Amateur cave explorers have found a new family of spiders in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, and scientists have dubbed it Trogloraptor - Latin for cave robber - for their fearsome front claws. The explorers sent specimens to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, which has the West Coast's largest collection of spiders. Entomologists there say the spider - reddish brown and the size of a half dollar - evolved so distinctly that it requires its own taxonomic family - the first new spider family found in North America since the 1870s. "It took us a long time to figure out what it wasn't," said Charles Griswold, curator of arachnids at the academy. "Even longer to figure out what it is. We used anatomy. We used DNA to understand its evolutionary place. Then we consulted other experts all over the world about what this was. They all concurred with our opinion that this was something completely new to science. "It's a good example of how science works - professional and citizen scientists share information," he added. The discovery is described in the Friday online edition of the journal ZooKeys.
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AZWH Patient of the Week ..  Elmo Emu

Age: Hatchling Sex: Unknown Found: At St George, in central western Queensland, after his father and siblings were hit and killed by a car. Transported to: A local vet, who then transferred Elmo on to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment and care. Veterinary Assessment: Dr Robyn assessed Elmo and found the little emu had a wound on the right foot, and was very weak and dehydrated. Orphaned, Elmo was also without a role model for vital pecking skills. Treatment: Dr Robyn administered Elmo fluids and pain relief, and cleaned the foot wound. A total of six ticks were also removed. Elmo remained under close observation overnight in the Nursery ICU, and was introduced the next day to.. a chicken! This chicken will show Elmo the correct way to peck and feed from grain. Future: Elmo will soon be transferred to a local bird carer, and will remain in care for the next five to six months until the foot is healed and is big enough to be released back into the wild. AZWH Statistic: Elmo is only the tenth emu to be ever be admitted the wildlife hospital! *AZWH

Underwater Forests at Risk

The Federal Government has listed the giant kelp forests near Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia as endangered. Under the listing, the giant kelp are considered an endangered ecological community. Any projects which could impact on the forests will now require assessments under national environment law. Giant kelp are mainly found from Eddystone Point in north-east Tasmania, and along the state's east coast as far down as Port Davey in the south-west. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke says the move will ensure better protection for the forests, which are being threatened by warming oceans, invasive species and human activity on coastlines. Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has warned the marine forests will remain under threat unless further action is taken to address climate change. "Everything helps in a situation like this but my understanding is that global warming and rising sea temperatures are the key problems for kelp," he said. "So unless we address the gases that cause global warming and take effective action on climate change, no listing in the world is going to help kelp forests." *ABC

National Parks

F0ourwheel drives, trail bikes and horses have damaged kilometres of Plunkett Conservation Park at Beenleigh, prompting calls for policing and surveillance cameras.  Beenleigh resident Glenn Leiper said damage included smashed national park signs, barricades and gates. The park is renowned for its wildflowers. Mr Leiper claimed damage began about two years ago but had substantially increased since Premier Campbell Newman and National Parks Minister Steve Dickson announced national parks would be "opened up" for everyone. "Where tracks were formerly mostly one to two people wide and not used by vehicles, tracks are now badly eroded roads up to three cars wide, with new roads being bashed into surrounding bush," Mr Leiper said. A spokeswoman for Mr Dickson said the problem had occurred for years and there was nothing to indicate damage was increasing. She said the issue was being addressed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service staff and police with regular patrols. Mr Dickson would not review his policy of opening up parks to mountain bikes and horses and did not agree the policy might encourage some people to do the wrong thing. Mr Leiper said although the Government claimed it would use only designated park roads and fire trails for mountain bikes and horses, the reality was this would be ignored. "Once they're in parks, they'll go wherever they like." *Courier Mail

Wildlife Trafficking

Squealing tiger cubs stuffed into carry-on bags. Luggage packed with hundreds of squirming tortoises, elephant tusks, even water dragons and American paddlefish. Officials at Thailand's gateway airport proudly tick off the illegally trafficked wildlife they have seized over the past two years. But Thai and foreign law enforcement officers tell another story: Officials working-hand-in-hand with traffickers ensure that other shipments through Suvarnabhumi International Airport are whisked off before they even reach customs inspection. It's a murky mix. A 10-fold increase in wildlife law enforcement actions, including seizures, has been reported in the past six years in Southeast Asia. Yet, the trade's Mr. Bigs, masterful in taking advantage of pervasive corruption, appear immune to arrest and continue to orchestrate the decimation of wildlife in Thailand, the region and beyond.
And Southeast Asia's honest cops don't have it easy. *AP 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 *

Brazil's Wildlife Vanishing

Animals living in patches of rainforest cut off from bigger expanses of jungle by farms, roads or towns are dying off faster than previously thought, according to an academic study published on Tuesday. "We uncovered a staggering rate of local extinctions," the British and Brazilian researchers wrote in the online science journal PLOS ONE.  They visited 196 fragments of what was once a giant, intact forest in eastern Brazil on the Atlantic coast, now broken up by decades of deforestation to make way for agriculture. Each isolated forest patch, ranging from less than the size of a soccer pitch to more than 5,000 hectares (12,000 acres), had on average only four of 18 types of the mammals the experts surveyed, including howler monkeys and marmosets. White-lipped peccaries, similar to pigs, "were completely wiped out and jaguars, lowland tapirs, woolly spider monkeys and giant anteaters were virtually extinct," the British and Brazilian scientists said of their findings. Normal estimates of declining wildlife numbers, based on the size of isolated forest fragments, predicted higher survival rates, it said. But they had underestimated continuing human pressures such as hunting and fires. "This is bad news for conservation," Professor Carlos Peres, of Britain's University of East Anglia, told Reuters. Many animals had vanished even in what seemed big areas of forest with intact tree canopy, he said. The rate of species loss in the area studied - the Atlantic Forest region which covers 250,000 sq km (95,000 sq miles), the size of Britain or the US state of Michigan, was likely to be mirrored in other countries such as Indonesia, Ghana or Madagascar, Peres said. * TimesIndia


A fisherman has undeniable proof of the one that got away. It was so big it flipped his boat and left him all at sea.  The fisherman survived a terrifying encounter in the deep blue, off Bribie Island, in Queensland, after his boat struck a whale and flipped early this morning. The boatie, in his 60s, was aboard the deck of his 10m fibreglass power cat in calm seas when the boat suddenly lifted out of the water and overturned. The fisherman was around 25 nautical north-east of the coast when he encountered the whale just before first light. AGL Action Rescue helicopter Air Crewman Jerm Cutelli said the fisherman was trapped underneath the boat for a period of time, luckily within an air pocket. "He said he was trapped under the vessel in an air pocket for a while and then got the courage to dive down and swim free," he said. "A nearby fisherman came to help and together they called the Coast Guard." Mr Cutelli said the boatie was unable to tell rescuers what had happened. "He said he doesn't really know what happened, it just flipped. He thinks that maybe it was a whale," he said. Local Volunteer Coast Guard found the fisherman and called for backup from the rescue helicopter when they realised he was suffering a number of other medical complaints, including some chest pain. The man was winched on board the AGL rescue helicopter mid-morning and taken to Nambour General Hospital, on the Sunshine Coast, in a stable condition. The incident came just a month after the VMR crew and rescue helicopter crew worked together in a number of simulated rescue training exercises. "The training meant today's real-life rescue was uncomplicated," Mr Cutelli said. "Everyone knew what they were doing, we were in and out in only a few minutes." *Courier Mail

 Butterflies Mutate

A team of researchers have revealed that a specific species of local butterfly in Japan have mutated since the Fukushima disaster back in March 2011. The species and the massive changes in physical and genetic development suggest that radiation levels continue to be a threat in the region, and may also serve as indicator of how slowly the breakdown of radioactive materials might be. After over a year of research, the group published their findings in the scientific journal, Nature, and roundly concluded that, “radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species.” Researchers had already been studying the delicate butterfly species for 10 years prior to the Fukushima incident, because the group of animals is extremely senstive to environmental changes, which could offer a way for scientists to measure environmental changes.  As Prof Otaki, one of the researchers, told the BBC:

We had reported the real-time field evolution of colour patterns of this butterfly in response to global warming before, and [because] this butterfly is found in artificial environments – such as gardens and public parks – this butterfly can monitor human environments. The BBC notes that scientists collected 144 adult pale grass blue butterflies two months after the disaster from 10 different locations, including Fukushima. Researchers quickly discovered that the butterflies from areas with radiation developed startingly smaller wings and abnormal eye development. The study became even more surprising when scientists bred the butterflies. It was then that they discovered the genetic mutations that had occurred from exposure to radiation. Researchers noticed that the second generation, bred away from any radioactive exposure, developed strange antannae. Those butterflies bred from the Fukushima area showed a rate of mutation double that of butterflies that were taken from areas without radiation.
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During the recent school holidays a horrified family were confronted by a group of hunters driving into a camping ground in a south east National Park randomly shooting kangaroos. In front of the distressed family camped in the remote but popular National Park they shot a number of kangaroos and loaded some onto a vehicle before driving off, leaving dead and maimed animals behind. One of the campers photographed one of the vehicles and contacted the NPWS office. The investigating NPWS Ranger was required to euthanase one of the maimed animals left behind by the shooters. The incident is being investigated. The shooting occurred as the NSW Parliament was introducing a controversial Bill allowing hunting in National Parks. Since the media coverage that has followed the new Bill there have been a number of illegal shooting incidents in National Parks, leading to speculation that hunters are under the impression that it is now 'open season' in National Parks. It's understood that the 'Firearms Prohibited' sign at the entrance to the campground had been run over and smashed, but all other signs were intact.

However, while the Bill has been passed it has yet to be enacted, and when it is enacted hunters will be required to apply for a specific licence and adhere to regulations overseen by Game Council NSW. Two people found earlier this week bogged in the South East Forests National Park are being investigated regarding: carrying a firearm in a national park; driving off formal tracks in a national park; and damaging vegetation in a National Park. There have been reports of wombats being shot in National Parks and stories of shooters targeting kangaroos and wallabies on remote properties adjoining National Parks. The Public Service Association of NSW is compiling an audit of incidents from rangers and park staff across the state. "Reports of an alleged kangaroo shooting in a national park in the state's South East is consistent with what we're hearing from our rangers about incidents where shooters are entering our parks under the impression they are now open for hunting," said Geo Papas from the PSA. "We are concerned members of the public are jumping the gun and are creating a dangerous situation for rangers, other park users and wildlife. "The State Government should come clean about whether there has been a spate of illegal shooting taking place in our national parks and what the Minister will do to stop it."

The ABC has submitted a number of questions to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and will update this story when the responses are available. The PSA has directed its members not to assist with any activity involved with establishing recreational hunting in National Parks. PSA General Secretary, John Cahill, said "Our park rangers should not have to work in fear for their own safety. "Our members have expressed serious concerns about the danger to themselves and the community when shooting is allowed in bushland popular with walkers and picnickers." Game Council NSW Chairman John Mumford said that the Council, which will be responsible for overseeing hunting in National Parks, has already established a successful system for hunting in State Forests. "We have proven that this system works over six years, with strict licensing and accreditation, the Written Permission system, and a State-wide field network of Game Managers," said Mr Mumford.

Greens MLC David Shoebridge says that in answers provided to the Greens in Parliament, Game Council NSW confirmed that it employs only 4.2 full time equivalent staff to police the hunting in State Forests across the state and they will now have to police National Parks as well. He claims that Game Council policing of hunting in forests and parks is clearly inadequate. There has been widepsread criticism that the opening up of National Parks to hunting is part of a deal by the O'Farrell government to get Shooters and Fishers Party support for selling off the state's electricity generators. *ABC

Great Barrier Reef

Sawfish and snubfin dolphins on the brink of extinction are top priority in a plan to restore degraded coral habitats and reconnect coastal ecosystems along the Great Barrier Reef.  The plan by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority comes as the CSIRO today will launch a report in Brisbane, warning increasing water temperatures are likely to send the reef's tropical fish southward. The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Australia Report Card says climate change is having such a significant impact that there is striking evidence of extensive southward movements of tropical species. It says there are declines in abundance of many temperate species and the first signs of the effect of ocean acidification on marine species with shells, something scientists have warned of for years. Marine park authority chairman Dr Russell Reichelt said a dramatic 50 per cent loss of coral on inshore reefs had occurred from Cairns to Fraser Island, with more than a dozen marine species listed as highly vulnerable. He said the findings were part of a road map to protect the Reef's 2600km-long fragile ecosystem.

"There are no fishing dead spots, as such, but sadly the entire Reef system inshore and coral south of Cairns to Fraser Island is vulnerable," Dr Reichelt said. "The GBR is the size of Italy and one-third is marine national park and two-thirds is open to fishing. "It is these inshore areas where species and habitats are under the greatest pressure from a range of threats, including coastal development." Coral reefs, islands, the lagoon floor, mangroves, open waters and seagrass meadows are identified as some of the habitats at-risk. Dwarf minke whales, dugong, inshore dolphins, sharks, rays and snapper are some of the potentially at-risk species. Others include king and blue threadfin salmon, marine turtles, seabirds, sea snakes and grey mackerel. Poor water quality because of catchment run-off, loss of habitat by port development and illegal fishing were taking a heavy toll. Dr Reichelt said the priority was to improve inshore biodiversity. The draft Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2012 is open to feedback until September 28. *Courier Mail


Many people, particularly landowners and farmers grumble about kangaroos and how they are eating all the green stuff. Views and opinions are formed over the generations and myth becomes fact. So, it may be a surprise to learn that a mob of 30 kangaroos nibble away the equivalent of less than a single heifer – and the impact on the ground is very much less than stock animals. Some people see hundreds of kangaroos when there are only 30 or 40. In some areas kangaroos have been largely eradicated. Most family mobs seem to average around 25-30, but sometimes two or more mobs come together and form a larger group before dispersing again. Dry Sheep Equivalent (DSE) can be used to compare the grazing pressure of stock and other animals. In general terms a single kangaroo eats a third of a ‘dry’ sheep. Cattle on the other hand can have a DSE of around 12 – Jersey milking cows have a factor of 22 or more. Horses have a DSE of perhaps 10 or more and seem to eat 24 hours a day. There are many factors impacting DSE such as animal age, breed, growth rate, lactating, pregnant, topography, nutritional value, biomass and so on.

Importantly kangaroos are not contained and range over large areas. Stock animals on the other hand are trapped in paddocks and eat down to ground level and beyond. Look at agistment paddocks for horses or where cattle and sheep have been introduced and see the difference in grazing pressure. But it gets better. Kangaroos are soft-footed and do not impact the ground in the same way as heavier hoofed animals that compact the ground. Skippy is choosy about the native grasses they eat.  Kangaroos do not graze down to ground level, thereby encouraging growth rather than destroying the pasture. Some scientists suggest mixed grazing with kangaroos can be beneficial and actually increase farm output. Convinced? If not, then think about the true impact of your local mob of kangaroos. Work on fact and not fiction. See a mob of kangaroos as the equivalent of a single, free-ranging heifer, drifting between your land and that of your neighbours - because this is what they equate to. And it doesn’t seem right to kill off kangaroos just because we ‘think’ they are the culprits in eating all the grass. * Braidwood Times

Altering the number of kangaroos culled each year will not avoid some young adults starving to death at the end of winter. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias said sightings of higher numbers of kangaroos happened at the end of winter every year because they had to forage further for food. After heavy frosts, what little pasture was left in nature reserves was of poor quality. 'Kangaroos are doing it tough between July and August. It is the highest time for morbidity, a lot of sub-adults [adolescents] die.'' He said this was a natural phenomenon. Motorists have reported more kangaroos along Hindmarsh Drive at O'Malley and near nature reserves in the south and north of the city. The Canberra Times previously reported last year's winter cull killed about 2440 kangaroos of the planned 3427 while this year, government shooters had hoped to kill more than 2000 but only about 1100 were shot. Mr Iglesias said increasing the number wouldn't help the kangaroos maintain their numbers over winter. The annual targeted conservation cull involved a small percentage of a particular grazing area, not a territory-wide cull.

Vicky Papas, who lives in Dalman Crescent, O'Malley, adjoining a reserve, said her family was extra careful coming home at night because kangaroos were jumping onto the road in pairs. In summer, her mother-in-law visiting from overseas had been mesmerised at dusk by large numbers of kangaroos grazing peacefully near homes. 'They were huge, now we are seeing a lot of babies,'' she said. 'I know early in the mornings, even in the middle of night, our ensuite faces the reserve, we see them hanging about.'' She said hares and native ducks were about as well. Her husband Paul photographed 25 ducks sitting on the front lawn. Mr Iglesias said reports of more foxes in Canberra was in line with cities the world over, including London, which had big fox populations because of their adaptability. The best way to avoid them was a tidy backyard that did not have food scraps lying about. Rangers could poison foxes in national parks, but could not do so in urban areas because of the danger to domestic animals. University of Queensland emeritus Professor Gordon Grigg said the kangaroo numbers could crash during drought and respond in good seasons. An NRMA check of claims data in 2011 found that Belconnen, with 23 collisions, was the worst hot-spot for kangaroos, followed by Hume (21) and Woden (12). Insurer AAMI said Canberra-Queanbeyan and the Hunter Valley region are hot spots for animal collision claims. *
Canberra Times

Ed Comment; We've never heard anything so preposterous...  that "young kangaroo adults starve to death at the end of winter " ..   and this clown Iglesias is in charge of the infamous Canberra  kangaroo killing programs.....


Animal Welfare chair joins Fraser Island Dingo review committee. A prominent Tasmanian Zoologist and a highly experienced animal welfare researcher will join one of the world's top ecologists and a local marine scientist to cross-check the review of the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy.  Chair of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Professor Clive Phillips, will join the committee along with Professor Chris Johnson of the University of Tasmania's school of Zoology.  Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, who is visiting the Fraser Coast this weekend for the Whale Festival, said the scientific committee would cross-check the review carried out by EcoSure.  "We have said that this would be an independent, scientific, peer-reviewed process. Professor Possingham and his fellow committee members will carry out the peer-review of the work," Mr Powell said.  "Committee members' selection has been based on their widely recognised expertise across these fields and their independence of any previous involvement with the management of dingoes on Fraser Island."

Professor Phillips has more than 25 years' experience researching the welfare of farm, companion and captive wild animals. In particular his research has focused on assessing adequate animal nutrition, health, housing, transport and reproduction, with emphasis on cattle and sheep. Having studied the ecology and conservation of mammals throughout Australia, from the northern tropics to Tasmania, Professor Johnson recently moved to the University of Tasmania focusing on the sustainable conservation of animals and causes and environmental impacts of extinction.  The committee has met with EcoSure recently to work through the terms of reference and methodology of the review.  The public will be updated as the review progresses, with EcoSure set to release its draft report later this year. *Ministerial Media Release

Flying Foxes

Scientists hope studies of bat urine will help them discover why the number of Hendra virus cases has grown in North Queensland during the past year. A resurgence of the virus in Queensland and NSW since the start of last year has seen the death of about 23 horses at Majors Creek, near Townsville and Hawkins Creek, north of Ingham. Most recently, a horse died in the Cairns suburb of Redlynch late last month. Biosecurity Queensland is reviewing each case, looking for a pattern that might suggest why some horses become infected and not others.  To date, researchers have found that horses were camped under trees where flying foxes were feeding in the case of more than 80 per cent of affected properties. Virus researcher Dr Hume Field said almost 90 per cent of properties had evidence of recent flying fox activity, including food debris and urine under trees. He said it was still a mystery why there had been so many cases within a short period, compared to the previous 18 years since the virus's discovery.

"We're looking at things like the rate of excretion in flying foxes and it varies within each year, the climatic factors that make it more or less likely that flying foxes will get infected and will excrete viruses, and whether the virus will last longer on the ground," he said. "Those are the types of things we are exploring, but there's nothing conclusive yet." He said the findings so far showed the importance of property owners keeping horses away from fruiting and flowering trees that might attract flying foxes. "It's not always easy to do, particularly when you've got a large property and you've got a creek line that's got melaleucas that run for a couple of hundred metres," he said. "But the issue is when the trees are flowering or fruiting. "It doesn't have to be a permanent thing, but I think the recommendation that some fencing to exclude horses from such areas while they are fruiting would prevent the risk." He said property owners should also check at night for flying foxes. CSIRO has been working on a Hendra vaccine which could be released later this year before being commercially available in 2013. But Dr Field reminded horseowners the vaccine would not be a silver bullet solution to preventing the virus's spread. * Townsville Bulletin