Friday, August 28, 2009

community talks cockies

Earlier this week I attended a community meeting in Kallista to talk about the ongoing problem with cockatoos. Around 60 community members were there, along with representatives of Parks Victoria, DSE and James Merlino MP. Council was represented by me and Cr Cliff.

The Panel from left to right: Cr Noel Cliff, James Merlino MP, Scott Lawrence DSE, Cr Samantha Dunn, Matt Hoogland Parks Victoria and Craig Bray Parks Victoria.


We heard many stories of cockatoo damage, residents frustrated by the continuing damage to their property.

ABC News were there to film the story - click on this image for the story.


John Lloyd, ex ranger of Sherbrooke Forest, spoke about the history of Grants Picnic Ground and how the kiosk came to feed birds in the national park. John went on to speak about the cockatoos taking over hollows from other species in the forest, the impact the cockatoos had on a local pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles (now no longer in the forest) and the impact on the natural environment.

James Merlino MP told community members that aside from bushfire, cockatoo damage was the number one local issue.

This damage is atrocious and I have had it confirmed to me that it is directly related to the cockatoos who feed at Grant's Picnic Ground.


James Merlino committed to investigating the lease with the cafe at Grant's Picnic Ground and told the crowd "any contract can be varied....however the operators will be resistant to change and their claim may be extreme....the government has to weigh up the cost to government and is it worth it".

Community members told of their experiences with the DSE in seeking advice about how to deal with cockatoos, their frustration apparent. Residents have been told to "shoo away" the cockatoos, apply for a license to trap or shoot the birds, employ pest controllers at their cost or apply for legal aid.

Here is a family at Grant's Picnic Ground, they've brought their own bird seed in, they are not feeding in the designated area and no one is stopping them. Maybe if tourists knew the damage feeding cockatoos caused they wouldn't feed the birds.


Health issues were discussed, cockatoos carry many diseases (psittacosis was cited) and could constitute a health risk to visitors of Grants.

I am a strong believer that education must play a key role to tackle backyard feeding, but some community members said education is not the answer in every case. I have been working closely with the DSE to develop materials to help educate people about the implications of feeding cockatoos, however I did point out to residents that the issue of feeding at Grant's Picnic Ground will continue to be an issue.

The issue of tourists bringing birdseed into Grants came up, I know myself I have seen tourists with huge bags of seed for the cockatoos. Residents have seen tourists dump the unused seed on the ground creating even bigger problems for Parks Victoria.

Residents were angry that they were bearing the cost and damage of tourists wanting to come and feed cockatoos.

From my perspective there are two issues at play, one the backyard feeders, the other feeding in our national park.

I have committed to bringing forward a motion at the next council meeting to investigate the nuisance provisions of the Health Act to see if this provides a local legislative approach for residents who refuse to stop feeding cockatoos. I have also committed to investigating a local bylaw to ban the feeding of cockatoos in the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

It must be recognised that these measures will only deal with part of the problem. Whilst the state sanctions feeding in Sherbrooke Forest at Grant's Picnic Ground, local Kallista residents will continue to bear the brunt of this activity.

It is time for the state government to look at the regulations under the Wildlife Act and make it illegal to feed cockatoos, no longer can we turn a blind eye, the consequences for residents are extreme and no longer should they be enduring the cost and frustration.

Maybe it is time for Gavin Jennings, Minister for the Environment, to come and visit Kallista so he can see first hand the cockatoo damage to both public and private property, maybe then we will see some teeth in the Wildlife Act.

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1 Comments:

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Corrie said...

I love the cokkies they do no harm I feed them some wild birds seeds also I love the friendleniss they come up to me I can,t say that of people my nexs door people are not nice at all but I get plenty of love from the birds

 

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