Spring Carnage for Our Wildlife: Out Of Date Data Shows at least 4000 local rescues annually - Lack Of 'Responsibility' facilitates Extinctions
''This study draws on 469,553 rescues reported over six years by wildlife rehabilitators for 688 species of bird, reptile, and mammal from New South Wales, Australia.... Of the 364,461 rescues for which the fate of an animal was known, 92% fell within two categories: ‘dead’, ‘died or euthanised’ (54.8% of rescues with known fate) and animals that recovered and were subsequently released (37.1% of rescues with known fate).''In total, there were 872,087 records reported during the six-year (2013–14 to 2018–19) study period. Just over 97% of these came from three animal groups–birds, mammals, and reptiles. Of the total number of records, 402,534, (46%) were excluded from the descriptive analysis because they: a) did not contain any information about the animal, or the animal’s identification was ambiguous and could not be placed within a group (e.g. an ‘unidentified animal’); b) contained only sightings of animals and were not attended to in some way by a wildlife rehabilitator; c) were records of amphibians (373 records) or non-vertebrate fauna (e.g. spiders, insects, etc.); d) were non-avian marine vertebrates such as whales, seals, sharks, rays, fish etc; e) were reported as floating, drowned, or washed up animals (deemed an ambiguous cause for rescue, n = 48); f) contained both an ‘unknown’ cause for rescue and an ‘unknown’ fate; or f) were an introduced or spurious species (e.g. extinct, or out of known range). These exclusions resulted in a dataset for descriptive analysis of 469,553 records i.e. 54% of the initially reported amount.''
''For wildlife, roads have three major impacts on populations. Roads can form barriers to movement, fragmenting populations and isolating them from resources and mates. They can alter the structure of populations adjacent to roads where road effects lead to avoidance. They can also cause mortality of animals as a result of collisions with the vehicles that travel on them.The most widely publicised figure of roadkill within NSW is that produced by NSW WIRES in conjunction with Macquarie University. Their figure of 7,000 animals per day in NSW (or 2.55 million animals per year) was derived from six weeks of data collection over 199 km of road. It is likely that this figure is a good rough estimate as data we have recently collected puts it in the same ball park, although for some „hot spots‟ like the Snowy Mountain Highway between Tumut and Talbingo, our figures for this area are double. Given the large degree of spatial and temporal error that must be associated with estimating state-wide or even nation-wide totals from these small amounts of data it is clear we must obtain more high quality spatial and temporal data of collisions before we can be confident of our predictions. We really must strive to improve our knowledge of roadkill if we are going to take serious steps towards reducing the carnage.''
The Council recently invited feedback its 'Open Space and Outdoor Recreation and Action Plan' the bulk of which was their plan to formalise illegal bike tracks into wildlife habitat areas. The proposal within the plan to authorise mountain bike trails in Ingleside Chase Reserve has already been fiercely opposed.
The 'feedback' invited for a plan to allow dogs offleash on beaches, where shorebirds live and eat, is similarly viewed. The Council has not only set itself up as the Proponent but also the determining authority.
Surveys for migratory birds (and other wildlife) were carried out at both subject beaches on only four separate occasions last December and January - so don't account for wildlife at any other time of year. In doing so the REF presented as stating this can go ahead does not reliably assess whether wildlife visits these areas outside this midsummer period. Further, the report stated that “the presence of dogs was observed at both Activity Areas” during observations. The consultants would not have seen any wildlife at these beaches during this period because wildlife would be scared away - so any data collected would have been unreliable. Given that it’s illegal for dogs to be present on these beaches at any time, and as the surveys went ahead without first ensuring dogs were not present - and had not been for some time, how reliable is any data in that REF?
As dogs are still sighted on the two proposed areas on a daily basis, as well as offleash everywhere across the LGA, Council's allocation of rangers to this problem have already failed to prevent unauthorised activity and residents state it is absurd for Council to suggest compliance with mitigation safeguards are a reasonable management tool into the future.
Although many are opposed to the trial on environmental and procedural grounds, apparently the trial will proceed regardless of its impacts.
Council's responsibility, as stated under the Local Government Act, to 'to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem function' and 'to maintain the land, or that feature or habitat, in its natural state' and 'provide for the restoration and regeneration of the land' could offset some of this carnage by supporting the many bushcare groups in Pittwater whose volunteers work to restore the reserves where wildlife lives.
However, the Pittwater Natural Heritage Association's Spring 2022 Newsletter released this week provides a summary of PNHA questions and NBC responses from their September 16, 2022 Teams meeting with council staff that does not match local aspirations for these areas.
PNHA: We heard that Council’s bush regeneration budget had recently been increased. Is that a one-off or will it be on-going? Can we have a breakdown of the $250, 000 spent in Pittwater? What is the amount of funding allocated to the Council nurseries?
NBC: Not known if that funding will be on-going. Figures recently reported in Pittwater Life were inaccurate. The reserves (mostly in Pittwater) to receive the extra funding are:
Bushland Reserves: Bangalley Headland, Avalon, Hillside Reserve, Newport, Allenby Park, Allambie Heights
Riparian areas: Warriewood wetlands (Irrawong reserve), Narrabeen Creek, South Creek, Dee Why Lagoon.
Dunes: Avalon Dunes, Governor Phillip Park dunes.
$200,000 was allocated to set up the two NBC nurseries and $10,000 per year is allocated to run both nurseries. None of this money comes out of the bush regeneration budget. All sites in Pittwater have either had their funding increased or remained the same.
PNHA: When NBC was formed, Pittwater ward was enlarged to incorporate Terrey Hills and Duffys Forest. Was the bushcare budget for Pittwater increased to take account of extra sites in Terrey Hills and Duffys Forest? What about funding for Dunes bushcare?
NBC: There are few sites in that extra area. There has been no decrease in Dunecare funding, but when a new site comes on stream, funding comes out of the existing budget, except if extra funding is requested and approved.
'The statement “We are doing the best we can with existing resources” is telling. We don’t believe resources are so scarce – the problem is the culture of the NBC and the preference for spending on projects that are popular, ribbon cutting etc.We consider the real needs of Pittwater’s natural environment have been overlooked and under-resourced for a long time.PNHA members and friends need to pursue NBC on this issue to ensure that extra funding is NOT a one-off.'
''The public register of convictions in prosecutions initiated under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) or the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act) and results of civil proceedings before the Land and Environment Court under the NPW Act or the BC Act'.'
The NSW Environment and Heritage Minister approved the CPCP which provides biodiversity certification under Part 8 of the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act). This approval removes the need for landholders to seek their own biodiversity approvals under the BC Act for development on certified - urban capable land as long as they comply with planning controls under the CPCP, as set out in the Strategic Conservation Chapter of the SEPP (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021.
The department is currently pursuing Commonwealth approval for the CPCP under Part 10 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Landholders can submit development applications, seek subdivision or start master planning.
- NSW Wildlife Rehabilitation dashboard - NSW Department of Planning and Environment, retrieved from: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/rehabilitating-native-animals/wildlife-rehabilitation-reporting/wildlife-rehabilitation-data
- Kwok ABC, Haering R, Travers SK, Stathis P (2021) Trends in wildlife rehabilitation rescues and animal fate across a six-year period in New South Wales, Australia. PLoS ONE 16(9): e0257209. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0257209
- Dr Daniel Ramp. School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales. Sharing the environment: Counting the cost of wildlife mortality on roads. 2011.
- van Eeden LM, Nimmo D, Mahony M, Herman K, Ehmke G, Driessen J, O’Connor J, Bino G, Taylor M, Dickman CR (2020) Impacts of the unprecedented 2019-2020 bushfires on Australian animals. Report prepared for WWF-Australia, Ultimo NSW