Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Edwards releases new guidelines to protect black cockatoos

    13/12/2005 12:00 AM
     
    13/12/05

    Community understanding and co-operation are crucial factors in protecting black cockatoos and the livelihoods of orchardists in the Perth hills, Environment Minister Judy Edwards said today.

    Dr Edwards said increasing urban development in the Perth hills had led to conflicts when it came to traditional orchard management operations, especially minimising crop damage by birds.

    The situation had been exacerbated by the big Perth hills fire last January which burned through 27,000ha, most of it habitat for Baudin’s or ‘white-tailed’ black cockatoos.

    “The Department of Conservation and Land Management estimates there are only between 10,000 and 12,000 Baudin’s cockatoos in the wild,” the Minister said.

    “CALM has also reported five cases of illegal shooting of white-tailed black cockatoos in the South-West in the past 18 months.

    “Consequently, there is a need for measures that will address the range of issues facing the species, orchardists and their neighbours.”

    Dr Edwards today released new guidelines which aimed to protect the threatened cockatoos, particularly Baudin’s cockatoos, as well as protecting fruit crops and the local amenity, especially noise pollution.

    The guidelines were prepared by a black cockatoo-fruit protection technical advisory committee which the Minister set up to address the problem.

    The committee, chaired by MLC for East Metropolitan region Louise Pratt, included representatives from the WA Fruit Growers Association, WA Local Government Association, the City of Armadale, and the departments of Environment, Conservation and Land Management, Agriculture and Planning and Infrastructure.

    “The best practice guidelines for bird scaring in orchards aim to help fruit growers, residents and local governments manage environmental noise from gas guns and other noisy devices used in orchards to prevent fruit damage by threatened black cockatoos,” Dr Edwards said.

    “The guidelines recommend practical methods that protect the cockatoos and reduce bird damage to orchards while minimising noise impacts on neighbours.

    “The guidelines will be trialled this fruit growing season and I have asked the committee to continue to look at longer-term solutions to this complex problem.

    “These solutions include new bird scaring technologies, protective measures such as netting, and land use planning measures in the form of buffers. Consideration also will be given to recognising the orchard industry within noise regulations.”

    The Minister acknowledged the constructive role of fruit growers and local councils in developing the guidelines.

    “These are magnificent birds which are under extreme threat and we want to conserve them for future generations,” she said.

    In a separate CALM project, about 20 rehabilitated white-tailed black cockatoos were released back into the wild from a South-West property today.

    The release was in conjunction with wildlife carers Dave and Deidre Patterson, who rehabilitated the birds over several years.

    CALM senior investigations officer Rick Dawson said the birds would be tagged and micro-chipped for monitoring during the first 12 months after release.

    “Previous releases of black cockatoos have been successful in the past,” Mr Dawson said.

    “These birds are among some 130 birds which the Pattersons have cared for and raised to maturity over a number of years after coming to the property, as chicks have been found in fallen trees or injured in some way.”

    A feed and water station will be maintained on the property for several months to ensure the successful transition of the birds back to the wild.

    Minister's office: 9220 5050

    Details:

    Baudin's cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii)

    Other names: White-tailed black cockatoo and long-billed black cockatoo.

    Status: Declared Threatened Fauna: Schedule 1 - Fauna that is rare or is likely to become extinct.

    It is scarce to moderately common (flocks are mostly made up of aging birds, usually in flocks of up to 300). It has declined in the past 50 years, its low rate of reproduction (0.6 chick per year) precluding it from replacing the large numbers shot by orchardists during the former open season (that ended in 1989) and by illegal shooting that occurs today. Population estimated at 10,000 - 12,000 birds.

    Breeding: Nesting in hollows of karri, marri and wandoo trees. Eggs laid in October; clutch 1-2 (only one young reared) and only the female incubates and broods the chick.

    Life span: 25 - 50 years.

    Description: Length 50-60 cm. Weight 560-770 g.

    Adult male: Mostly brownish black, the feathers edged with dusky white giving a scalloped appearance; ear coverts dusky white; white band towards tip of tail, broken in middle; bill black; bare skin around eye pink.

    Female: Like male but differs in having the ear coverts yellowish white; bill greyish with dark tip and eye skin grey.

    Distribution: Occurs in south-western humid and subhumid zones, north to Gidgegannup, east to Mt Helena, Wandering, Quindanning, the Perup River, Lake Muir and King River, and west to eastern strip of Swan Coastal Plain including West Midland, Byford, North Dandalup, Yarloop, Wokalup and Bunbury also the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges. It is endemic to Western Australia.

    Habitat and food: Southern eucalypt forests. Feeds on seeds of marri, banksia, hakea and fruiting apples and pears; also strips bark from dead trees in search of beetle larvae.

    Threats to the species: Clearing, feral bees that take over nesting hollows and in the past large numbers shot by orchardists.

    Damage: Will damage apples by trying to extract the seeds and eat persimmons and nuts.
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