Author Topic: Cats not to blame for native wildlife decimation. Humans are the problem.  (Read 858 times)

WA Export News

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Black cockies decimated by land clearing
Cortlan Bennett, AAP March 8, 2012,

Western Australia's iconic, endangered black cockatoos are being decimated by land clearing, logging and human population growth, according to government figures showing a 35 per cent fall in numbers in just one year.

The alarming figures are based on an annual survey, known as the Great Cocky Count, conducted in WA's southwest by volunteers and the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Last year's results, published on Thursday, showed the number of endangered Carnaby's black cockatoos had fallen by more than a third, from 12,954 roosting birds in 2010, to just 8365.

There have been three Great Cocky Counts so far - in 2006, 2010 and 2011 - but the 2006 results were based on different criteria, so can't be compared to other years.

While conservationists agreed it was still too early to confirm a trend based on two years' worth of data, it was still an "awful" result.

"To lose more than a third of an endangered species in just one year is a devastating result and shows that current conservation measures are failing," Conservation Council of WA spokesman John McCarten said in a statement.

Birdlife Australia WA program manager Cheryl Gole, who's organisation coordinated the count, said the figures were a "red flag".

"That drop in numbers seems to be real," she said.

"What we don't know is what it means - what that trajectory is.

"What we do know is Carnaby's cockatoo populations have halved in the past 45 years and that their range has retracted by about a third.

"They used to be common in the Wheatbelt, but not any more."

Ms Gole said the decline was caused by loss of habitat and food.

"We are losing increasing amounts of bushland for urban and industrial development, mostly for housing," she said.

"We can't continue to take bushland out of an area that is important for a species without it having an effect.

"It's death by a thousand cuts."

Mr McCarten blamed part of the problem on native forest logging.

"Right now we're tearing through our last reserve forests, destroying thousands of hectares of cockatoo habitat to feed an inefficient and outdated industry that only survives thanks to huge taxpayer subsidies," he said.

WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the decline was "concerning".

"However, more research needs to be done to verify species numbers," he said.

"Additional loss of breeding sites through tree decline and competition with feral honey bees and invasive native species, such as galahs and corellas, are an issue.

"A major concern is significant loss of birds through illegal shooting, poaching and being struck by vehicles."

Mr Marmion said more than $9.3 million had been spent by the WA Government on protecting and rehabilitating black cockatoo habitats since 2008-09.

That included more than $7.7 million from developers to buy and rehabilitate private bushland for environmental offsets linked to project approvals.
There are three species of black cockatoos that are found in WA and nowhere else in the world: Carnaby's, Baudin's and the forest red-tailed black cockatoo.