Lord Howe Island Rodent Control Draws Flack

To: "'Simon Mustoe'" <>, <>, <>, <>
Subject: Lord Howe Island Rodent Control Draws Flack
From: "Stephen Ambrose" <>
Date: Thu, 25 Jun 2009 08:17:06 +1000
I'd like to think that there is more to this plan than what is reported in the 
ABC story. I can't imagine that NSW and Commonwealth environment authorities 
have not thought this through fully and weighed up all the options.

Having said that, I'd also be worried about the impacts of the baits on top 
order predators on the island, e.g. Masked Owl and Lord Howe Island Pied 
Currawong, and even some seabird species. Is there a chance that they could 
take the carcasses of poisoned rats or the baits themselves? Does anyone know 
if there is a contingency plan for these types of species?

I think this is a clear example of what we have been discussing on Birding-aus 
over the last few days with respect to development and (in this case) activity 
proposals, i.e. there needs to be a clear public explanation of the actions 
proposed and a full public discussion of the potential impacts on the 
environment. The fact that some people have a few concerns would suggest that 
there has not been enough public consultation in this case.

Stephen Ambrose
Ryde, NSW

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Simon Mustoe
Sent: Thursday, 25 June 2009 7:54 AM
To: ; ; 

Subject: Lord Howe Island Rodent Control Draws Flack

While we are on the subject of EPBC Act, this case is interesting...

Carl is right, there should be a careful plan involved in doing this. I am sure 
there is...or I hope so. Given Lord Howe Island Wood hen is a Commonwealth 
protected matter and an environmental assessment is required where the action 
is "likely to result in a significant impact", Commonwealth approval should 

Here are the thresholds, as defined in the Commonwealth's Policy Statement 1.1 
about significance 

Likely = To be ‘likely’, it is not necessary for a significant impact to have a 
greater than 50% chance of happening; it is sufficient if a significant impact on 
the environment is a real or not remote chance or possibility.  If there is 
scientific uncertainty about the impacts of your action and potential impacts 
are serious or irreversible, the precautionary principle is applicable. 
Accordingly, a lack of scientific certainty about the potential impacts of an 
action will not itself justify a decision that the action is not likely to have 
a significant impact on the environment.

Significant impact = A ‘significant impact’ is an impact which is important, 
notable, or of consequence, having regard to its context or intensity. Whether 
or not an action is likely to have a significant impact depends upon the 
sensitivity, value, and quality of the environment which is impacted, and upon 
the intensity, duration, magnitude and geographic extent of the impacts. You 
should consider all of these factors when determining whether an action is 
likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental 

Removal of an entire population of a globally threatened species would very 
clearly be a controlled action yet I can seem to find nothing about it on the 
referrals list page.

If this is true, this would represent one of the most clear and serious EPBC 
Act oversights I have seen. In theory, the assessment and management plan for 
this should have gone on public exhibition for 90 days giving groups like this, 
Birds Australia and others, chance to make comments and recommendations. There 
is often the misconception that because something is being done for 
conservation, the risks don't imply a need to get statutory approval. Perhaps 
this is what has happened in this case.

Perhaps someone from Birds Australia would care to comment on this?



> From: 
> To: ; 
> Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] Lord Howe Island Rodent Control Draws Flack
> Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 20:56:00 +1000
> Anyone interested in looking further at this issue can check out the
> EPBC page on the Rail and the recovery plan (below)
> overy/
> lord-howe-wood-hen/index.html
> xon_id
> =59572
> Interestingly, apparently rodent predation is listed as a Key
> Threatening Process, although "Rats do not appear to be a serious
> problem for the Woodhen, although they adversely affect the Kentia
> Palm industry and a control program is currently underway. However
> there is potential for indirect impacts upon Woodhen the population
> via rat and mouse control programs."
> More information at the link.
> This plan is not yet on the EPBC page so I am not sure how developed it is.
> With regards to the EPBC page, it would be a huge improvement if one
> could sign up for daily updates to the page. This really would
> contribute to the transparency of the process. In the mean time I have 
> been talking to my partner in bat advocacy who is much more
> technologically savvy than I am and he has set up a 'robot' to watch
> the EPBC page and report changes to several matters that we are
> following. Ideally one would be able to find a robot that would report on new 
> matters that met specific keywords.
> cheers
> storm
> -----Original Message-----
> From: 
>  Behalf Of Carl Clifford
> Sent: Sunday, 21 June 2009 12:56 PM
> To: Birding-Aus Aus
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Lord Howe Island Rodent Control Draws Flack
> Dear All,
> The proposed rodent control program on Lord Howe Is. by broadcasting
> brodiafacoum baits by helicopter seems to be causing a bit of an
> upset. See
> Apparently the Lord Howe Woodhen population is to be rounded up , and
> removed from the island as they are attracted to the proposed baits.
> An interesting exercise in theory, but potentially fraught with
> opportunities for Murphy to do his worst. I hope when they round up
> the Woodhens, they remove them in several shipments.
> Cheers,
> Carl Clifford
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