Tag Archives: bushfires 2019-20

24 scientists wrote to these officials about flawed and cruel aerial baiting with 1080 poison

dingo-1080-baiting-feb-2019-susan-cruttenden

(underway now in NSW, regardless)

17 February 2020

To:   The Honourable Sussan Ley MP Minister for Environment, Australia
Address: Parliament House  CANBERRA ACT  2600
(minister.ley@environment.gov.au)

cc: The Honourable David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture, Australia (minister.littleproud@agriculture.gov.au)

cc: The Honourable Lily D’Ambrosio MP, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Victoria (lily.dambrosio@parliament.vic.gov.au)

cc: The Honourable Jaclyn Symes, Minister for Agriculture, Victoria (jaclyn.symes@parliament.vic.gov.au)

cc: The Honourable Matthew Kean MP, Minister for Energy and Environment, New South Wales (office@kean.minister.nsw.gov.au)

cc: The Honourable Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Agriculture, New South Wales (adam.marshall@parliament.nsw.gov.au)

cc: Dr Sally Box, Threatened Species Commissioner (ThreatenedSpeciesCommissioner@environment.gov.au)

Re: dingo (wild dog) baiting in South-eastern Australia and bushfire recovery

Dear Minister/s,

The undersigned wish to express our expert opinion on the status of dingoes across Australia in light of the current bushfire emergency. At the time of writing, more than 10 million hectares has been burnt across Australia, including 1.2 million hectares in Victoria and 4.9 million hectares in New South Wales. Across south-eastern Australia this represents burning of major dingo habitat zones in National Parks and State Forests.

[Signatories are experts from the following fields: predator ecology, biology, archaeology, cultural heritage, social science, humanities, animal behaviour and genetics].

We commend the Federal, NSW and VIC State Governments for their focus on assisting fauna and flora recovery after the catastrophic 2019֪–2020 bushfire season, however, the proposed ‘feral predator’ aerial baiting plans are counterproductive to that aim.

In particular, we wish to express concern about plans to undertake widespread 1080 “wild dog” aerial baiting across burnt habitat in NSW and VIC.


No existing knowledge — impacts on native predators, eg quolls, dingos and goannas

Aerial baiting with 1080 poison poses an unacceptable risk to native predators such as quolls, dingoes and varanids because it is unknown if food scarcity in burnt landscape may increase bait consumption leading to poisoning of quolls or varanids. Furthermore, dingoes are highly susceptible to 1080 baiting and are included as a direct target of “wild dog” baiting efforts.

Importantly, best-practice guidelines to limit 1080 baiting impacts on quolls suggests that all baits should be buried to a depth of more than 10cm and “aerial or broadcast surface baiting should only be used in areas where it can be demonstrated that there is a low risk to spot-tailed quoll populations.” (EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.4 — Significant impact guidelines for the endangered spot-tailed quoll Dasyurus maculatus maculatus (southeastern mainland population) and the use of 1080.)

Currently it is unknown how quolls and other non-target species will be impacted by aerial baiting in burnt habitat. Arguably, the recently proposed NSW “wildlife and conservation bushfire recovery” plan should be referred to the Federal Environment Minister under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 for assessment.


Killing dingos exactly wrong thing to do if you want to suppress cats and foxes

Dingoes are the sole non-human land-based top predator on the Australian mainland. Their importance to the ecological health and resilience of Australian ecosystems cannot be overstated, from regulating wild herbivore abundance (eg various kangaroo species), to reducing the impacts of feral mesopredators (cats, foxes) on native marsupials (Johnson & VanDerWal 2009; Wallach et al. 2010; Letnic et al. 2012; Letnic et al. 2013; Newsome et al. 2015; Morris & Letnic 2017).

It would be hypothesised that continued dramatic reduction of dingo populations, by aerial baiting, will enable introduced mesopredators such as foxes and cats to exploit burnt areas unchecked, posing a high risk to threatened native species. The impacts of feral cats and red foxes are likely to be amplified in disturbed ecosystems, such as those burnt by bushfires. Indiscriminate and non-target specific lethal management should not be implemented if there is a risk to the persistence of threatened native fauna or ecosystem resilience.

Aerial baiting in bushfire affected south-eastern Australia is an unacceptable risk to native carnivores.


Here’s what SHOULD be happening post fire

We would urge the Federal, NSW and VIC State Governments to focus bushfire recovery efforts on proactive evidence-based measures including:

  • Installation of exclusion fences to protect recovering vegetation and wildlife communities (short-term).
  • Targeting lethal control measures to key refuge areas and important sites for remaining populations of threatened species.
  • Limiting lethal control to targeted methods such as shooting, trapping or ground-baiting where steps are taken to limit non-target bait consumption.
  • Providing supplemental shelter, food and water to identified remaining populations of threatened species.
  • Increasing post-fire weed control to protect regeneration efforts.

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE.

IMAGE: Susan Cruttenden.

 

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$1M Wildlife Carer Fund rorted by NSW government:

NSW-govt-rorts-carers-fund-may2020

80% redirected to other programs — only 20% paid to wildlife carers.

THE NSW LABOR Opposition has disclosed that the state government’s much-hyped million dollar fund for wildlife carers in bushfire-affected regions has been rorted by the government itself, with only 22 percent of the money being paid to wildlife carers.

At least half of the Wildlife Carers Bushfire Fund has already been redirected to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to fund other programs, including $62,000 on mapping exercises and $438,000 on two new staff positions within the Department to oversee wildlife rehabilitators.

The NSW Labor Opposition has called for the full funds to be reinstated and given to wildlife carers as promised.

When the fund was announced — to much fanfare — the Environment Minister Matt Kean’s claimed that “the funding will help wildlife rehabilitators respond and prepare for natural emergencies. Community rehabilitation groups and the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife will be able to access the funds.”

However, answers provided by the Minister to supplementary budget estimates questions reveal that only $220,000 has been paid to wildlife rehabilitators, with $500,000 spent internally and the remaining $280,000 unspent, six months later.

According to the Minister, the remaining funds will now be allocated towards repairing damaged infrastructure and will not be given to wildlife carers.

“The Government has been caught red-handed rorting their own wildlife carer fund,” Labor’s environment spokesperson, Kate Washington, said.

“This money was meant to go into the hands of our incredible wildlife carers to help keep injured animals alive. Instead, the Government stole 80 percent of the funds, and only a fraction of the money made its way to actual wildlife carers. It’s reprehensible.”

“Some entire regions ravaged by bushfires only received $3,000 from this fund, like the Blue Mountains and the New England region. Meanwhile, $500,000 was sneakily redirected back to the Department itself.”

“Koala mapping is important, of course, and so is oversight. But if you promise one million dollars for wildlife carers, you should deliver on that promise. The government shouldn’t steal half the money to pay itself, and then redirect the rest to other programs.”

“Matt Kean should hang his head in shame for giving false hope to the hard-working volunteers who are still struggling to keep injured animals and ecosystems alive.”

“The Environment Department already has staff who liaise with and oversee wildlife carers. They were already doing environmental mapping following the bushfires. Why does the government need to steal 80 percent of this fund to cover its day-to-day work?”

“This Minister loves a cute and cuddly headline, but when push comes to shove, and when the media attention wanes, Matt Kean has quietly cut and run with the money.”

“Wildlife carers are amazing, their work is hard and heartbreaking — they deserve the support they were promised,” concluded Ms Washington.

IMAGERY SOURCE: Wildcarers NSW

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How the world is viewing Australia

Dear friends [of avaaz] across the world,

Hell on earth looks a lot like Australia right now. The fires are so big they are generating their own lightning — and they’ve killed more than a **BILLION** animals! 

A billion! It’s a wildlife holocaust!! Thousands of koalas have been roasted alive in the trees, while rare flying foxes are falling dead from the sky. Even worse, this nightmare could be a glimpse of our whole planet’s future if we don’t urgently tackle the climate crisis that caused it.

Even as their country burns, Australia’s leaders are denying climate change and trying to derail global action to reduce carbon pollution. We can’t let them win. So we’ll also bring all of our movement’s campaigning magic to face down blockers in Australia and all over the world ahead of crucial global climate talks later this year.

This is urgent — give what you can to help beat back Australia’s biodiversity apocalypse and spark the climate revolution our planet needs!

Can you imagine how brave you must be to run into the flames to save terrified animals? Across Australia, heroic wildlife rescuers are working against the clock to save animals from this catastrophe.

But to really make their heroism count, we must spark change in Australia — and that means taking on the powerful climate deniers who have the government in their grip. Right now, they’re flooding Australia with fake news to play down the link to climate change, but as deadly fires blaze through homes, businesses and schools, killing dozens and wrecking people’s lives, Australia’s leaders are under pressure like never before.

This is personal for me. My brother lives in Australia, and I want my precocious, curious young nephews to grow up looking for koalas up in the treetops, and not just hearing about them in the history books. I hope they’ll be able to look out over the ocean, without choking on ash. And I’d love them to hear stories about a time when the world came together to defend their country’s splendid natural beauty — a moment that was both a global wake-up call and a tipping point toward building the healthier, more sustainable world we all want.

With hope, love and lots of grit,

Joseph, Bert, Marigona, Martyna, Francesco, Patricia, Aloys,
and the whole Avaaz team

RELATED LINKS:

Number Of Animals Feared Dead In Australia’s Wildfires Soars To Over 1 Billion
(Huffington Post)

The world loves kangaroos and koalas. Now we are watching them die in droves (The Guardian)

Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide
(The New York Times)

Something else is out of control in Australia: climate disaster denialism
(The Guardian)

How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia’s Bushfire Debate
(The New York Times)

The viral false claim that nearly 200 arsonists are behind the Australia fires, explained
(Vox)


Avaaz is seeking donations for post wildfire support with this edited post. There are many good organisations seeking donations and pledging support, so we are not going to boost one over the others, but consider your state and local wildlife rescue groups and also Humane Society International which pledges to help carers rebuild. And AWPC for campaigns in 2020 for respect and sharing with our wildlife.

IMAGE: Benny Marty, Dreamstime.

 

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Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary (NSW, Vic)

cobargo-wildlife-sanc-jan2020

We join Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson once more, this time Sara talks about grief and loss and rebuilding the future from the caravan that is to be their temporary home. There is an impassioned thank you for the many of you from around the world that have given the support and kindness that will make a new future possible.

“Like us, all living creatures don’t want to die and will fight to survive. Sometimes despite all odds we hang in there, not yet ready to leave for many reasons. Maybe just because you find someone that is prepared to sit with you, love you and give it their all to help you. To give you the strength to fight.”
— Sara Tilling

The money donated to the Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary will be spent on rebuilding the wildlife care and rehabilitation infrastructure and equipment, compounds, sheds and the like. Money will also be spent on revegetating the property with the native plant species that will help to give the animals who come to live at the sanctuary in the future, the very best chance of a happy and successful life. There is a vast amount of work to be done.

You can assist in this work by donating HERE.

NOTE: Why it is critically important to donate to people and organisations working on the front line of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Australia.

Sara mentions the attitudes of governments in Australia to wildlife and conservation. What has occurred over the last few days is telling. Some good, some very bad.

The Commonwealth Government of Australia (Canberra) has pledged $50 million to assist wildlife in the firegrounds across this vast continent. The states most impacted at this time are New South Wales (Cobargo), Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. The $50 million in funding will be split between an expert advisory panel and community groups and Koalas will be a focus for restoration efforts, with as much as 30 per cent of Koala habitat destroyed. We shall see what happens.

In New South Wales, where some 8.5 million hectares have been destroyed and whose current government’s attitudes to wildlife conservation are nothing less than egregious appear to be planning on businesses as usual with no changes to lax wildlife laws or the level of commercial or other permits being issued. “DPIE will be monitoring fire and harvesting activity within the commercial management zones and will be engaging with commercial harvesters and animal dealers that may operate within the affected zones,” the spokesperson said. “Our goal is to ensure that Kangaroo populations remain ecologically sustainable.”

In Victoria, the Victorian Government, although details and how these are to be enforced are vague, has suspended its relatively new and doomed Kangaroo Pet Food Industry. The commercial wildlife industry in Victoria is doomed because much of the populations of species being exploited are now gone because of the large numbers of animals killed in the last few years. As far as I can tell the Victorian Government has no plans to put a stop to the vast scale culling of wildlife it claims to be a nuisance or overabundant. In Victoria in the ten-year period 2009-2018 inclusive a total of 32,147 of these ATCW permits (not commercial) were issued for Australian species covering 1,513,605 animals across 82 native species including for 26,507 Wombats, in addition Wombats are unprotected in much of the state and killing them does not require a permit. This Government describes Koalas as overabundant (nonsense).

While not formally announced, the Victorian Government (its Ministers) have also flagged their intention to proceed with this year’s Duck shooting season despite the devastating impact on waterbird populations in Australia from heat events, long term and severe drought and now the horrific fires. South Australia has already announced that despite the devastating fires it will proceed with its Duck shooting season.

Too little too late

An area not that much smaller than Greece, has been destroyed in Australia over the last few weeks and because the firegrounds are so vast, the wildlife that does survive is in immediate danger of starvation and dehydration, all food has gone, and water sources, if they remain, are contaminated. The Australian Veterinary Association is desperately calling on the Victorian Government to airdrop food into inaccessible, bushfire-affected land in Victoria to save starving wildlife.

“Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government was taking expert advice to get the best outcome for native wildlife and biodiversity. “We’re considering supplementary feeding for threatened species in targeted areas if and when it’s appropriate and safe to do so,” she said.

As President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council I have called on the government to stop all wildlife killing activities and to begin food drops with immediate effect. Towards the end of 2019 it looked to me, with all the disasters and potential disasters that we describe here, that the Victorian Government were ‘culling’ wildlife in state and national parks in Victoria. The response I received beyond the usual spin was as follows:

“If you require any more detailed information at this stage, we encourage you to submit your query through our Freedom of Information Process”.

Something to hide perhaps?

Australia’s ABC report that “Animals Australia director Lyn White said some species in fire-affected areas were critically endangered such as the mountain pygmy-possum and brush-tailed rock-wallaby found in Gippsland. The charity offered $100,000 to the Victorian Government last week to help purchase food, but said they have not received a response to the offer”.

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