Sunday, June 15, 2008

what to do with the cockatoos?

Last Thursday’s public meeting to discuss cockatoo damage saw a huge community turn out, at last count it was 137 locals who took the time to attend. The crowd was a mix of residents whose houses/decks had been chewed, environmentalists who were concerned about the destruction to Sherbrooke Forest as well as the proprietors of Grant’s Picnic Ground Café.

Ian Temby, DSE’s cockatoo guru (aka: Senior Policy Officer Wildlife Damage Control Flora & Fauna Program), had much to say about this very intelligent bird.

I have long campaigned to try and change the laws in relation to feeding of wildlife, with cockatoos being top of the list. It was one of the first issues I raised when elected to council. In the past I have spoken and met with Parks Victoria and James Merlino (MP for Monbulk), but all to no avail. I welcome the reinvigorated debate about feeding cockatoos, perhaps this time government will listen and make the legislative changes required to stop this outmoded practice.

Ian’s key message was around the relationship of backyard feeding of cockatoos and how that impacts on local neighbourhoods. In the wild cockatoos need around 2 hours of foraging to get their fill of food, from a backyard feed they can get their fill in 15 minutes, this leaves cockatoos with a lot of spare time to wreak havoc.

I have long been concerned about feeding of all wildlife and Ian’s presentation confirmed my concerns. As a starting point the community needs to be aware of the impact feeding the birds has on their neighbours. I have asked the shire to start an education campaign so people know the impact of feeding, it’s not going to be easy, some people have been feeding birds for many, many years. In some cases it’s a tradition that’s been handed down from generation to generation. The difficulty will be further compounded by the fact that feeding of birds is allowed at Grant’s Picnic Ground, an activity that is supported by the state government, locked in by lease agreement until 2019! But knowing what we know today, it’s time to stop this outdated and obsolete practice.

Public meeting organiser, Kaz Mckay, asked people to write down the dollar value of damage to property caused by gnawing cockatoos, a total of 61 people had $240,000 of costs, that’s around $4,000 per property. The cost of damage to Sherbrooke Forest - how will we ever be able to quantify that?

I will also investigate whether there is any capacity under the nuisance provisions of the Health Act for enforcement action. Ian mentioned this is a possibility and I’m keen to see if this is an avenue the Shire could pursue.

If you want to help the cause write to your local MP, ask them to outlaw feeding of wildlife, tell them how it impacts on you and your environment, they need to hear your voice in order to act, make sure they do.

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At 9:39 PM, Blogger Samyuktha P.C. said...

Everywhere in this world people are doing sensible things to help out the environment. It is always a pleasure to see initiatives take any where. Lovely. Carry on with your work. Let me know if I can help.

Sam, India.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

If we all do little things around the world it will make a big difference. Thanks for your comments Sam.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

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