Monday, January 12, 2009

picnic time for rosellas

It’s been nice to have a bit of a break over Christmas and enjoy the local sights and scenes of the Dandenong Ranges National Park (DRNP). Over the weekend the family decided to walk to Sherbrooke Falls (in Sherbrooke Forest), the journey starting at the Sherbrooke Picnic Ground.

When we arrived I was astounded to see groups of visitors hand feeding rosellas at the site, the ground was littered with seeds, rosellas were perched across the shoulders, arms and heads of visitors and clearly this has been going on for some time. Even though Parks Victoria have numerous signs up explaining why visitors shouldn’t feed the wildlife people blithely ignored these and kept feeding the rosellas.

I guess it’s going to be hard to explain to visitors why they CAN feed birds at Grants Picnic Ground (only a kilometre or so down the road) but they CAN’T feed birds at Sherbrooke Picnic Ground.

In the case of Grants Picnic Ground there is a lease in place between Parks Victoria and the Sherbrooke Kiosk and Tearooms, the terms of the lease include that the lessee is permitted to provide approved feed to visitors at this location (section 7.1)*. *
source DRNP Management Plan

The National Parks (Park) Regulations 2003 clearly state it is against the law to feed animals within a National Park (see excerpt below).










Excerpt: SECT 9 Interfering with animals
.
9. Interfering with animals
.
1) A person must not, in a park, disturb, harass, remove, hunt, capture, take, kill or injure or otherwise destroy or interfere with any fauna or other animal or destroy, disturb or interfere with the nest, bower, display mound, lair or burrow of any fauna or other animal.
Penalty: 20 penalty units.
.
2) A person must not, in a park-
a) feed, offer food or offer any object as food to any fauna or other animal, where the animal is not lawfully brought into the park; or
b) permit or allow food to be taken from the possession of the person by any fauna or other animal.
Penalty: 10 penalty units.

Parks Victoria have a real challenge on their hands, allowing feeding of wildlife in the DRNP at Grants Picnic Ground is creating issues in other areas in the Park, apart from the fact that feeding wildlife is prohibited in every other Victorian national park.

Feeding wildlife has many detrimental effects, even the DRNP Management Plan states:

The most significant risk of bird feeding in these situations is that diseases carried by the birds can be transferred to humans. Birds such as rosellas can carry a disease known as psittacosis or parrot fever which is easily transferred to people. It is a severe infectious disease characterised by high fever and pneumonia. Many cases have been recorded around the world. These diseases may also be transferred to other bird species, for example lyrebirds, and present a threat to those populations.

Other negative aspects of bird feeding are that prolonged artificial feeding with unsuitable food may harm the health of the birds, and that widespread artificial feeding may lead to artificially high numbers of some species to the detriment of other species in the locality.

I did notice a number of visitors were from overseas and did not speak English as a first language, perhaps Parks Victoria should, as a bare minimum, put up some signage in languages other than English to cater for those visitors. I will be raising this with the Ranger in Charge at the DRNP.

The DRNP offers some beautiful walks and stunning scenery and we were fortunate to see an echidna go about getting its feed for the day. There is a stunning array of birdlife and given the proximity to Melbourne it is no wonder the park enjoys 950,000 visitors per year.

The walk to Sherbrooke Falls is quite an easy one, I would recommend it to locals and visitors alike, we are very lucky to live on the doorstep of Sherbrooke Forest.

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2 Comments:

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Ross Farnell said...

Hi Samantha,
I think the labeling in languages other than English is a great idea and essential; many of those ignoring the signs appear to be tourists from other countries; Perhaps more emphasis on sign using images rather than words would also be useful. Good suggestions to follow up with Parks.

I agree, Parks has a real dilemma allowing this in one area of their park and not in all others.

btw; our family enjoyed a similar fabulous walk thru the DRNP just last week, on the lyrebird and other tracks just up from Grants.
We were fortunate to see 2 lyrebirds, one in full song giving us a rendition of magpies, kookaburras, whip birds and many other imitations. Fabulous!!
Tourists really shouldn't be feeding cockatoos and rosellas just 500m from this habitat.
cheers
Ross

 
At 9:51 PM, Blogger rob said...

Its nearly as bad as blocking out the public from the Thomson logging coupes whilst the woodchip industry clearfell our water catchment.

DSE have been gutless to cancel the bird feeding contract that went with the retail business at Grants. They know quite well it is contrary to State Policy and the impact from the Cockatoos is now alarming. Dieback is forcing continual felling of eucalyptus vegetation yet they are too proud and gutless to admit to the fault years ago. They have the legal obligation to act now not when the dieback is uncontrollable.

 

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