Friday, April 16, 2010

curbing cockie crunching and munching

report from the roundtable – 13 apr

This week's council meeting saw council approve a concerted education campaign, a focussed advocacy effort and the development of a local law to address the issue of sulphur crested cockatoo feeding and chewing in the Shire.

A problem that has brewing for the last four years, it was time to put some focussed effort and attention into addressing the issue of cockatoo feeding. Feeding sulphur crested cockatoos sees the birds cause all sorts of damage to buildings, fixtures, fittings, forests and ferns, because instead of foraging for food in the wild the birds have a plenty of time spare to chew. Not only that, it is not good for the birds either.

These cockatoos are chewing away on the retaining walls at Grant's Picnic Ground in Sherbrooke Forest. Parks Victoria have committed to initiatives to restrict the feeding of birds at Grants Picnic Grounds which include a designated feeding enclosure. There will also be limits to the volume of seed sold from the kiosk and a prohibition on seed being brought into Grant's Picnic Grounds.

The cockies need to chew to keep their beaks well honed and in good health, it is a natural behaviour generally done whilst the birds are foraging for food, whilst they don't need to forage because of a constant supply of food, they do need to chew.

The damage the birds have caused in townships across the Dandenongs is incredible, the level of destruction quite unbelievable. Feeding of the birds has seen neighbour pitted against neighbour as frustration levels get higher and higher as destruction from cockatoos continues.

It is not only backyard feeding that is contributing to the problem. The cockatoo feeding at Grant's Picnic Ground saw Kallista under siege last year as the birds gnawed the community house, bollards in the village green, fixtures at the kinder, the historic mechanics hall, power supply lines and local residences.

Grant's Picnic Ground is about 100 metres from the Kallista PreSchool, the preschool suffered ongoing attacks from cockatoos on its wooden fixtures and fittings in 2009, costing parents and ratepayers a fortune. This money could be far better used than cleaning up after cockies.

It was time to tackle the issue head on. At a public meeting last year I gave a commitment to the community to look at the issue and investigate the legal instruments that could be used as an enforcement tool against feeding.

This week I moved the following motion:

That Council:

1. Lobby the Minister for Environment to modify the licence conditions for the restaurant at Grants Picnic Grounds to prohibit the sale of wild bird seed for the purpose of feeding sulphur crested cockatoos on the basis that it is putting the birds at risk.

2. Further seek the prohibition of feeding sulphur crested cockatoos throughout the Shire and support the provision of signage.

3. In unison with DSE, continue to campaign throughout the Shire to educate the community of the risks to the wild birds caused by feeding and associated
dependency. This should include tourist organisations who promote the feeding of wild birds in the Shire.

4. Commence the development of a local law in relation to sulphur crested cockatoo feeding for consideration by Council in Twelve months.

The motion was supported 7 votes for to 1 vote against.
(note: Cr Cliff was absent from this meeting)

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