Saturday 25 February 2012

Feral pests decimate birds on Fraser Island

HE best square kilometre of birdwatching territory in Australia is being destroyed by feral animals.
Birdwatchers have called for urgent action from rangers to trap or shoot dingo-cross dogs that may have wiped out a substantial number of ground-dwelling birds at Inskip Point, near Fraser Island.
Foxes also have been seen in the area and there are concerns about feral cats.
Birds Queensland conservation officer Mike West said yesterday about six feral dogs had created such havoc that vulnerable beach stone-curlews had moved to Fraser Island.
Campers also were concerned the dogs were a danger to children.
"The pair of curlews that have raised only three chicks to adulthood in 11 years have gone over to Fraser, where they will have to contend with speeding 4WDs and dingoes," Mr West said.
"Black-breasted button-quail also may be easy targets for this pack of dogs as (the birds) are unusually reluctant to fly.
"Both birds are rare, nervous and under threat but at Inskip Point they have somehow shed their nervousness, making them the easiest of their kind to be found.
"As a consequence, it has made it on to the list of must-see places for visiting birdwatchers, not only nationally but internationally as well."
Mr West said only five quail were recorded in the area last week.
"Previously there were so many, it wasn't worth counting," he said.
"They are extremely hard to find anywhere else.
"We're calling on the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to urgently do something about feral animals.
"It's such a special area, with a lot of rare birds and a species count of 96."
Great Sandy Marine Park regional manager Ross Belcher said feral pest numbers would be reduced by Easter.
Bird numbers also would be monitored.
Mr West said other rare birds species included the fairy gerygone, all three species of monarchs, the sanderling, grey plover and rose-crowned fruit dove.
"People can't believe that you've got white-eared, black-faced and spectacled monarchs all in the one area," he said.

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