Sunday, September 06, 2009

council considers cockatoo curb

At this week’s council meeting I intend to move the following motion in response to a commitment I gave community members at a recent public meeting in Kallista about the ongoing problem with cockatoos.

Motion :
That a report be prepared for Council examining options for prohibiting or discouraging the feeding of cockatoos in the Shire of Yarra Ranges. Options to be investigated should include the following alternatives:

(a) the use of the existing Animal Control Law, which regulates the way in which feed may be stored;
(b) the use of the nuisance provisions of the Health Act to either regulate or prohibit feeding;
(c) the creation of a new local law, or the amendment of an existing Animal Control Local Law, to prohibit feeding altogether.

The report should be delivered to council by the last meeting of November, 2009. The report should address the legal and operational implications of each option and recommend the most effective mechanism for reducing the impact of cockatoos on Yarra Ranges communities.

Background/Supporting Information :
At a recent public meeting in Kallista the issue of feeding of cockatoos was raised, specifically regarding those residents who continue to feed cockatoos and by doing so cause damage to neighbouring properties.

It was recognised that education was a key focus to assist residents to understand that feeding cockatoos has the unintended consequence of damage to timber, mortar, power supply lines and various other fixtures on public and private property.

This view is supported by the DSE and can be referenced in their Living with Wildlife 1 factsheet “For example, cockatoos need to chew items to maintain their beaks at the correct length and condition. They generally achieve this by chewing bark and branches in their roost trees. When people give them food, they tend to hang around near where they are fed.

They also have more “free time” as they don’t need to forage. This can result in cockatoos chewing on timber fittings, outdoor furniture, other household fittings or vegetation on neighbouring properties. The best solution is to find out who is feeding the birds and ask them to stop.”

However there are still residents who refuse to stop feeding cockatoos and are having a deleterious affect on their neighbour’s health, wellbeing and amenity. It is clear that enforcement has a role to play in curbing feeding of cockatoos for those residents who will not stop feeding through an educative process.

It is for this reason that I propose the Shire investigates various mechanisms to provide a legal framework to address the issue of backyard feeding of cockatoos.

I do hope my colleagues support the motion, people in the region are frustrated, angry and upset about the ongoing damage to their property caused by the feeding of cockatoos. It must be recognised that any action council may take will only impact on backyard feeders, there is still the issue of feeding at Grant’s Picnic Ground, but that one I'll be taking up with our local MP and the state government.

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