Monday, July 13, 2009

let’s talk cockie

Last week I attended a meeting, urgently convened, to talk about the cockatoo problem in the Dandenong Ranges, specifically around the Kallista and Menzies Creek regions of the Dandenongs.

These cockatoos have been slowly chewing their way through the bollards at the Kallista Village Green. I was told today that they have chewed through to the metal railing. The bollards will soon be replaced with the ratepayers bearing the cost of their replacement.

The meeting was attended by myself, James Merlino (MP for Monbulk) and staff, representatives of Parks Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Tammy Lobato (MP for Gembrook).

There was no doubt that the problem of cockatoo damage was widely acknowledged as a significant issue by all in the room.

The DSE categorically stated that damage to buildings was caused due to the feeding of the birds. It was also said that the feeding would be in and around the vicinity of the damage in a radius of approximately 100 to 200 metres.

So if you are more than 200 metres from Grant’s Picnic Ground and experiencing cockatoo damage there is someone in your local area providing cockatoos with food. The DSE were clear-cut in this fact.

The meeting discussed the broader issue of wildlife feeding across the state, the legislative instruments available for the longer term and the need to have a major cultural shift so people understood why it was a bad idea to feed cockatoos.

This advertisement was published last year by the Shire in an effort to educate people about the consequences of feeding cockatoos. Given the cockatoo damage experienced this year, there is a lot more work to be done on education.

Education was seen as a vital step to effecting change. With the cooperation of DSE, Parks Victoria, James Merlino and myself it was agreed to develop succinct information for distribution to residents in the Dandenong Ranges to start a focused education process.

As a longer term outlook the DSE have committed to providing an assessment of the legislative process required.

It must be remembered that it is not the DSE that make the call on whether legislation is appropriate, it is our state parliamentarians and their will to see it happen.

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