Monday, September 24, 2012

Wildlife Bytes Australia 24/9/12

Hi  Bat Friends

Below is a link to four different proforma letters for people to copy and paste into an email and send off to protest against bat shooting. Thank you to the people who wrote them. Please choose any one and send it in as well as ask their family and friends to do the same.  We will be repeating this process four times over the next months so in the end each person can email one of each of the letters.

The email addresses to send them to are listed below. The first one is Andrew Powell and the cc ones are to Campbell Newman:


Don't forget the petition. We have put the link on our website to simplify the URL to allow flyers to be printed. There are already just under 3000 signature on there and we need to keep the momentum going to reach 10000. If anyone has overseas frineds or relatives these are particularly important. Please ask your members to PLEASE SIGN. The link may be found on this page

ABC Stateline are doing a segment on the reintroduction of "Shooting Bats'.  It is estimated it will either be this coming Friday at 7.30pm or the one after. Please circulate to your members and supporters. Please keep pushing the petition signature embedded link and simpler URL on and the sending in of email letters from the proforma copies already distributed. * Network Item


Authorities are investigating the deaths of thousands of catfish found floating in the Brisbane River.  Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection says several thousand dead fish were found in the river near Lowood, west of Brisbane, with some as far upstream as Lockyer Creek. Department officers are collecting water and fish samples for tests. No other fish species were found among the dead. The department said there were no reported fish deaths in other parts of the river. *CMA survey of catches at European ports has found that fishermen did not catch a single cod over the age of 13 last year.  The findings raise concerns for future stocks of cod, which become more fertile as they age. The fish can live as long as 25 years and grow to 6ft.  Researchers warned a lower life expectancy meant a lower birth rate and a faster decline.  Callum Roberts, professor of marine biology at York University, told the Sunday Times that intense industrial fishing meant that few fish survived beyond the age of four, when they reach sexual maturity.  “This means that there are fewer eggs and larvae to perpetuate future generations,” he said. *SundayTimes

Fish Farms
The failure of fish farms in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to clean up their rubbish has angered local residents.  A team of volunteers spent last weekend collecting rubbish from beaches on the South Bruny Island, collecting more than a tonne of rubbish, mostly from the aquaculture operations not far offshore.  The 60 bags of waste collected from a 2km stretch of shoreline included lengths of plastic piping and barrels and hundreds of kilograms of rope.  Local resident Louise Crossley said it was disappointing fish farm operators did not make more of an effort to clean up their mess rather than leaving it to volunteers.  "It's just unbelievable the rubbish that is being deposited and collected on the beaches, and 90 per cent of it is rope and virtually all of it comes from the fish farms," she said.  "It's unsightly, it's environmentally harmful and it's dangerous to wildlife.  "It shouldn't be there in the first place. Why don't they pick it up themselves?"  Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association chief executive Adam Main said operators worked hard to minimise their impacts on the environment.  "Industry conducts clean-ups of marine debris on its own and through a partnership with the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council and local environment and community groups," Dr Main said.  "Industry is implementing waste mitigation strategies on farms in the area to reduce marine debris.  "It is important to note that the marine debris comes from a variety of sources.  "It is an issue the industry takes very seriously and we will continue to work directly with the communities in which we operate."  Neil Stump, from the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council, said operators were happy to conduct clean-ups of any site identified by locals. *Mercury

Flying Foxes

An animal rights group has welcomed a plan to tackle a seasonal bat problem in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland. Every summer, Mount Isa's suburbs have played host to a population of up to 500,000 migrating flying foxes. The Mount Isa City Council now has a plan to move on the animals. It wants to create a bat roosting site on land on the edge of town, owned by mining company Xstrata. The president of Bat Conservation and Rescue Queensland, Louise Saunders, says that is the right strategy. "That is a really fantastic solution and it's what all of these towns that have influxes of little reds need to be doing - preserving and maintaining habitats that bats will actually go to," she said. "It's very important that people around the district know that these are sanctuaries and no-one's to take out and go off shooting because this is why they're ending up in town." She hopes other Queensland towns will follow suit. "Barcaldine for instance, they have the opportunity to put aside little pieces of land," she said. The Queensland environment department will consider the Mount Isa plan next month. *ABC


Wild dogs and dingoes will all but kill the lamb and wool industry in NSW within the next 30 years, a government expert has warned. But as debate rages across the country about how to tackle the growing impact of mongrel dogs, some scientists argue the part-dingoes are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem. Tony Mayo, who mans the NSW section of the dingo fence which stretches more than 5500 kilometres from Western Australia to Queensland, and his ''boundary riders'' are the only thing standing between 5000 ravenous dogs and a multibillion-dollar industry that could be devastated by attacks on stock. Originally a fencing contractor, Mr Mayo has managed the state's 600 kilometres of isolated fence for seven years, living hours from the closest town of Broken Hill. He has overseen the removal of 250 cubic metres of sand off the fence after dust storms, difficult flood repairs, and the rebuilding of long and isolated lengths of the fence when fierce winds blew them over. ''It's never the same,'' he said. ''Right now, we're struggling with rust.'' With drought-breaking rains over the past two years the dogs, he said, had gone ''berserk''. ''There are more dogs now and that's the problem because, in a few years, when it starts getting dry again, they'll start getting desperate.'' The dogs are not alone, the emus and rabbits have gone berserk, too.
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Attention all those who are interested in the welfare of the dingo on fraser island..................Members of the public will be given the chance to have their say on the Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy. Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said numbers for the workshop were limited and urged those interested in providing input to contact the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to register. The workshop will be held on Friday October 5th, in the Mary Room of the Maryborough Motel and Conference Centre from 8.30am to 12pm. *Network Item


As rare as the gemstone it was named after, mostly pigment-free saltwater crocodile Pearl has been described as ''doubly lucky'' for having survived at all. The male leucistic crocodile was born at Crocodylus Park in Darwin in February with a birth defect that is fatal for most hatchlings. The park's chief scientist, Charlie Manolis, said the crocodile, which, unlike an albino, has some pigment, mostly visible in its black spots, was hatched with yolk hanging out of its egg. 'Normally hatchlings like that would be euthanised, as they are prone to infection,'' Mr Manolis said. 'He's doubly lucky: lucky to have this sort of rare colouration, as maybe one in 20,000 crocodiles are born with it and lucky to have survived, too. ''My staff members had noticed his colouring and one of them took him home to give him some tender loving care and kept him in a tank with all the best conditions. ''It was such a cute crocodile that the girl initially looking after it assumed it was a female and the name has stuck.'' Mr Manolis said the crocodile is still of a ''holdable'' size, at about 60 centimetres long. 'He's got quite a calm disposition and with the school holidays starting, children visiting the park will have a chance to handle him.'' *Age

There are fresh calls to cull crocodiles in Far North Queensland, after an attack yesterday afternoon. Fishermen watched as one of their dogs was snatched by a three-and-a-half metre crocodile at Deep Creek, north of Cairns, yesterday afternoon. The creek runs into Kewarra Beach, which is a popular one with dog-walkers and families. the Deep Creek is well signaged with permanent warning signs. Authorities say it's a known croc habitat so people should take precautions but recreational users say they want their beaches back. Our concern's always been that we're going to lose a child. I've seen here parents you know, paddling in the water with their children. If a crocodile can take a dog, a crocodile can certainly take a child.
The Queensland Government recently began working with several local councils on new crocodile management plan that mirrors the Northern Territory's approach and Mike Devery says their responses are due in the next fortnight. One is an exclusion zone where basically crocodiles are prevented from getting into them, so it's safe to swim and of course they'll obviously need to be carefully considered. The other zone is zero tolerance, for example around certain infrastructure like boat ramps and marinas where the presence of crocodiles won't be tolerated. * Courier Mail

Meanwhile the crocodile has been found beheaded, and if the offenders are found they can be fined $24,000. Some elements in the tourism Industry are calling for culling and/or removal, but the reality is that even if that was allowed, there will always be another crocodile around. Why would anyone be stupid enough to swim in crocodile country anyway?

NT Police are investigating the commercial fishermen who were filmed shooting dead a crocodile caught in their nets in the Top End. The Parks and Wildlife commission referred the matter to police after the shocking footage posted on Youtube was revealed by the NT News yesterday. Businesses face up to $352,500 in fines for the illegal practice while individuals could pay up to $70,500 under the NT Wildlife Act.  Readers were outraged and upset by the video both on the NT News website and Facebook page. *NTNews


Wildlife authorities will try to find and monitor the health of a platypus reportedly spotted at an industrial site along the River Derwent in Hobart. It is highly unusual for the shy freshwater mammals to frolic in the river, but shark fisherman Tim Green says he spotted the platypus at the Domain Slipyard early yesterday morning. He said it lingered for about five minutes, allowing him time to grab his iPhone and get a photo before it swam away. "He popped his head up and I pointed him out to the other guys and said 'is that a platypus?' We couldn't believe it." "He ducked down then popped right back up again over near the shore. The thing about him was he didn't seem scared at all he seemed interested in me; he definitely knew I was there." Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment principal wildlife management officer, Greg Hocking, said seeing platypuses in salty water was not unheard of. "It is unusual to hear of a sighting like this, especially in such a busy area, but there are several freshwater rivulets nearby which it probably was flushed down from," Mr Hocking said. He said the department would be investigating the site. "We want to ensure the safe welfare of the animal and how it fares from now on," he said. Slipyards supervisor Mick Garland has worked at the premises for nearly three years and said he had never heard of a platypus sighting there before. "We all jumped to have a look at him," Mr Garland said. "We make sure we keep the water around here clean and at the moment the water is brackish there seems to be a layer of fresh water on top of the salt." Any unusual sightings or concerns for the welfare of an animal should be reported to DIPIPWE by calling 6233 2520. *Mercury


Russian academics are calling for a scientific probe into claims of a 'Siberian Loch Ness monster' in one of the world's remotest lakes.  Researchers using underwater scanners have found evidence of 'Nesski' - measuring up to 33 feet in length - in the deep waters of Lake Labynkyr, says a new report. Intriguingly, the evidence is at a lake where native Evenk and Yakut people have long claimed an underwater creature lurks. The evidence includes a picture which, it is claimed, shows the monster, saysthe Siberian Times. Known as ‘the Devil', testimony dating back to the 19th century says the monster has enormous jaws. Associate Professor Lyudmila Emeliyanova, of Moscow State University, told The Siberian Times that on her own scientific mission to Labynkyr she recorded ‘several seriously big underwater objects’ with sonar readings.  Images have also recently emerged from a 2006 scientific trip to the lake when strange objects - one of 21ft 4in (6.5 metres) in length - were recorded on a Humminbird Piranha MAX 215 Portable fish-finder at a depth of 138 to 197 feet. A 1953 sighting of a 'monster' in neighbouring Lake Vorota by respected Soviet geologist Viktor Tverdokhlebov was initially covered up by the Soviet authorities.  But now Dr Emeliyanova wants to investigate a theory that the two lakes are linked by underground tunnels.  Strangely, despite being close to Oymyakon, the coldest inhabited town on Earth, the lake does not freeze completely in winter.  * DailyMail
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Mammal Decline

Conservationists and animal experts have gathered at Port Augusta for the 58th scientific meeting of the Australian Mammal Society. The program includes international speakers and the conference has drawn more than 100 delegates from across Australia. An organiser, Dr David Taggart from the University of Adelaide, said declining mammal numbers in Australia's north would be among the issues discussed. "In the last few years the mammal fauna of northern Australia is now going through a similar fate [to southern regions] with many species declining in numbers and distribution, species that were once common becoming endangered and we're trying to get a handle on what some of the factors are that are causing those species declines," he said. On habitat protection, he said a "whole of landscape" approach was now widely seen as the best way to protect regional biodiversity. "It's quite clear now that some of the micromanagement methods that have been used in the past in terms of trying to conserve some of our precious landscapes and the species they sustain aren't working," he said. "We need to really re-think how best to conserve our biodiversity in this country."  *ABC


Here is an online Petition to protect dingoes ...


Rare sharks are being sold at Deira fish market so their fins can be hacked off to make soup. Peter Jaworski, a vet in Dubai, counted 140 sharks during a single visit to the market. They included smooth hammerheads, bigeye threshers, common threshers and a mako, all of which the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists as threatened. There were also common blacktips, hardnose sharks and a spinner shark, which are classed as near-threatened. Dried fins on sale at the market included one from a whale shark. Trading in products from this species is banned by an international treaty. “The most tragic was the thresher,” said Dr Jaworski, who is involved in a shark-research project. “This is very rare, usually it’s not even seen by divers because it’s a deep-sea species.” *Read more  ..

Measures to protect the critically endangered grey nurse shark have been announced by the NSW government. Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson introduced regulations that include banning baited hook fishing in key breeding areas for the species along the NSW coastline. "Our overall goal is to protect the grey nurse shark," she told reporters at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary today. "They are the puppies of the ocean - they're not Jaws. "They are very gentle creatures but we're down to the last 1500 or so." Bait fishing presents the biggest risk for grey nurse sharks, the minister said. Recreational fishers will still be able to use other methods such as spinning, jigging and hand gathering. The moves "strike a balanced approach" to protect the sharks while allowing fishing and scuba diving to take place, Ms Hodgkinson said. "Because the population is so low, before protection they're on a pathway to extinction," said Dr Geoff Allan, executive director of Fisheries NSW. Critical habitat scuba diving regulations are being replaced by a code of conduct as part of the protection moves, developed over the past 14 months. Other changes include delisting the Bass Point critical habitat site in Shellharbour and protecting a site near Mermaid Reef, off Crowdy Head. An educational campaign will promote the rules and there will be a 12-month compliance advisory period while they are phased in. Responding to the new measures today, Greens MP Cate Faehrmann said protection zones around aggregation sites needed to be larger. "When you are desperately trying to save a critically endangered species from extinction, half-hearted compromises are not the way to go," she said.  *AAP


Giant Australian cuttlefish numbers at Point Lowly in the Upper Spencer Gulf have plummeted and authorities are at a loss to explain the cause of what could be the end of one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.  Every year when the water cools in May, June and July, the cuttlefish return to the place of their birth to spawn and lay their eggs in an orgy of reproductive splendour. Not this year. Fisheries Minister Gail Gago says preliminary figures suggest cuttlefish numbers have "reduced by about two-thirds". A state government working group has been unable to establish a reason for the decline and recommended research "should now focus on investigating broader ecological factors that may be influencing the population", she said. "It would be prudent to await the outcomes of this further research." But Tony Bramley of Whyalla Diving Services says there is no time to waste. He estimates cuttlefish numbers fell to as low as 6000 this year, compared to 78,000 last year - which was already down two- thirds on the annual average of 200,000 over the past decade. After nearly 40 years of diving with cuttlefish, Mr Bramley is devastated. "It's just heartbreaking when you look at what's left, after what used to be there," he said. "It's unbelievable. There were so many animals you couldn't land on the bottom, you had to push them aside to land on the reef. We've lost all of that." He said he held out little hope for a recovery because cuttlefish are so short-lived.   "The animal dies after it spawns, so it only gets one go at mating and they only live for one to two years anyway,'' Mr Bramley said. The Conservation Council SA has set up its own taskforce, calling for greater protection for the species. *Adelaide Now

National Parks

Parks Victoria is cutting 120 jobs as part of a major restructure. Staff were told on Friday afternoon that voluntary redundancies will be offered, but rangers and other front-line staff will not be eligible. The number of senior managers will also be reduced from 65 to 47. Staff currently filling those roles will have to reapply for their positions. The restructure is the result of a review commissioned by the former Labor Government. The 120 job cuts are in addition to the 4,200 previously announced by the Baillieu Government. The Community and Public Sector Union Secretary, Karen Batt, is disputing Parks Victoria's assurance that its fire prevention program will not be affected by the job cuts.  Meanwhile, the Northern Territory Government has confirmed it will be relocating some Parks and Wildlife staff from Darwin to Alice Springs. Territory Housing Minister Peter Chandler says a small number of staff will be relocated but he could not say how many positions will be moved. * ABC

Climate Change

As arctic sea ice hits a record low, scientific focus is turning to climate ''tipping points'' - a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas. ''It's a trigger that leads to more warming at a regional level but also leads to flow-on effects through other systems,'' Will Steffen, the chief adviser on global warming science to Australia's Climate Commission, said. There are about 14 known ''tipping elements'', according to a paper published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  In the case of the Arctic ice cap, less ice means less white surface to reflect heat and more dark water to soak it up. This leads to higher temperatures, which scientists say will unlock more ancient greenhouse gases frozen into ocean depths and permafrost, speeding climate change, interfering with ocean currents, rainfall patterns and weather.

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Earthwatch Australia is excited to announce that the long anticipated ClimateWatch iPhone app is now ready. This FREE app means you can record your observations in real time and anywhere, even if you have poor mobile signal. Through GPS, date and time stamps you can accurately record while bushwalking, at the beach or in the local park. With loads of new features, some exciting additions include being able to submit real time photos, compare your observations against species information for accurate recordings, listen to bird, frog and mammal calls to identify species. ClimateWatch is the first project of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and with the addition of the new iPhone app, recording will be even easier and more accessible to everyone who enjoys the outdoors. The app is currently only available on iPhone but a Google Android version is on the way. To find the app simply type ClimateWatch into the App Store search. * Network Item

Wildlife Program

Channel 10 will premiere Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors next month, featuring Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin working with wildlife around Australia. The series is produced by Spring, a subsidiary of FremantleMedia Australia. Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors is the first television series that sees Terri, Bindi and Robert present as a family since Steve’s untimely death in 2006, and the first time the Irwin’s will appear in a prime time slot. The series will feature the Irwin family and members of Australia Zoo as they continue the Crocodile Hunter’s inspiring lifetime work of saving Australia’s precious wildlife. With the family-orientated series focusing on the Wildlife Hospital and Rescue Unit of Australia Zoo, viewers will see how Steve Irwin’s legacy has had an effect on his wife Terri and how Bindi and Robert have enthusiastically picked up their father’s passion for animals. In addition to filming in and around the zoo, viewers will also journey with the family as they travel through the Outback to visit wildlife sanctuaries in Weipa, Cape York, Far North Queensland and Tasmania. Working alongside the staff in the 24/7 Wildlife Rescue Unit in one of the world’s leading wildlife hospitals, the Irwin family will show viewers the animal planet’s most unique and sometimes deadly, but always unpredictable, wildlife.  7:30pm Saturday October 6th. * Network Item


The Department of Environment says kangaroos in lower south-east South Australia remain largely off limits in a new management plan governing commercial harvesting. The plan, which has just been released for public comment, covers issues such as quotas, licensing and where kangaroos can legally be taken. The department's kangaroo ecologist, Peter Stokes, says the red kangaroo, the euro, and the western kangaroo are the most common species found across South Australia but the south-east is an exception. "In the south-east, particularly the lower south-east, you've mainly got eastern grey kangaroos," he said. "Now they are not currently listed as eligible species for commercial harvest. "We do, however, allow the non-commercial destruction of those kangaroos through permitting." Last month, a Grant District Council meeting raised the need for a possible cull in areas around Mount Gambier after reports of an unusually high number of kangaroos but the Department of Environment said there were not enough to warrant a commercial harvest. *ABC

Western Queensland councils are requesting help to combat record numbers of wild dogs and kangaroos across the inland. Delegates from 11 councils covering more than one-third of the state have been meeting in Barcaldine, east of Longreach. Barcaldine Mayor Rob Chandler says they want more government help to reopen kangaroo export markets. He says the sector is close to collapse and massive numbers are posing environmental problems. "The kangaroos are in record numbers and when it stops raining and we get dry times, the kangaroos will be here in their absolute millions," he said. The mayors have also resolved to ask the State Government to match a $30-a-head bounty paid by councils for wild dogs. Councillor Chandler says the dog problem has become an "epidemic" and if agriculture is a pillar of the economy, the Government should come up with funds to help. "The sheep people here, especially east of Barcaldine, they have been annihilated by wild dogs and the sheep industry has come to a stop," he said. "Those dogs are on the march heading for the open downs country and if we don't do something about this epidemic now, we're going to see more and more people go out of the wool industry. "It's a big dollar earner for the State Government and small communities." *ABC

The idea of using culled kangaroos for commercial purposes, as proposed in Victoria, ignores the cruelty hidden in the slaughter practices and serious hygiene threats to human health. The perception that kangaroos are a renewable resource, coupled with the labelling of these native animals as pests, has resulted in the largest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet. In the past 20 years, 90 million kangaroos and wallabies have been lawfully killed for commercial purposes. Yet this week, Victoria's Baillieu government is considering the feasibility of commercial hunting of wild kangaroos. Currently the commercial use of the thousands of kangaroos culled annually in Victoria is banned. All kangaroo meat sold in Victoria is sourced interstate.

While the commercial hunters have reacted positively to the news, stating that it will put to use the carcasses of animals that have been killed through the annual culls, the reality of putting a commercial kill in place is very different. The human consumption of animals slaughtered in the wild presents a range of health issues. Last month, ABC's Lateline featured research exposing the dangerous hygiene surrounding kangaroo meat for human consumption. Over a number of years, Voiceless and Animal Liberation bought kangaroo meat for human consumption from Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and had the samples tested in an independent laboratory.

Of the 26 samples taken, eight tested positive for salmonella and 11 samples showed high levels of E. coli. The quality assurance standard for raw meat of one of the major retailers allows for an E. coli count of less than 10 colony-forming units per gram of meat. However, one sample tested by Voiceless and Animal Liberation had an E. coli count of 24,000 colony forming units per gram and also tested positive for salmonella; another showed a staggering E. coli level of 46,000 units per gram. Systemic food safety and hygiene violations such as these led the Russian government to announce a total ban on importing kangaroo meat in 2009, when Russia accounted for about 76 per cent of kangaroo meat exports.

This contamination should not be surprising, given that kangaroos are not killed in sterile slaughterhouses like other animals used for food but out in the field, sitting for hours with flies and insects in open bushland during the after-dusk hunt before finally being transported and processed. Beyond concerns for human health are the obvious issues of animal welfare. Let us be clear, this is an industry that demonstrably places profit above animal suffering. Kangaroos are shot in the wild and at night when they are most active, so the cruelty associated with the slaughter is largely hidden from the public.

Shooters are required by the relevant Codes of Practice to aim to shoot a kangaroo in the brain for an instantaneous death, but non-fatal body shots are unavoidable and cause horrific and painful injuries. Kangaroos are often found with missing limbs or jaws or suffering from gaping wounds due to the difficulty of the shot. Government monitoring of the slaughter to ensure it complies with the relevant codes is largely non-existent. Meanwhile joeys that are not used by the industry must be killed; either shot, decapitated or having their heads bashed with a hard and heavy blunt instrument. This brutal treatment is instructed by the government code. Those joeys not killed by these means die slow and stressful deaths due to starvation, predation or hypothermia.

Each year about 855,000 dependent joeys are killed in this way as collateral damage of the kangaroo industry, and yet, in a bit of twisted Orwellian logic, it is being propagated as "humane". The launch of a commercial approach would dramatically increase the pressure that culling places on kangaroo populations. The Southern Grampians Shire Council's economic development manager behind the push for the commercial industry says there will not be a rise in the number of shot kangaroos, just use of the bodies of those already killed through culls, but this cannot be regulated nor enforced.

No longer will population numbers or land competition be the motivator for culls, but instead it will be individuals seeking to profit from the slaughter of these creatures. This will undoubtedly result in the numbers of killed kangaroos soaring well beyond the current cull quotas and threatening populations. It is irresponsible to commercialise the hunting of kangaroos, given these serious concerns of contamination and animal cruelty. *Age, Dana Campbell
Dana Campbell is the chief executive officer of the animal protection institute Voiceless