Owl deaths near Ingham

Subject: Owl deaths near Ingham
From: Rafael Furniss <>
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 1995 13:27:13 +1000 (EST)
(From today's Townsville Bulletin)

A 70 % drop has been recorded in some of the owl species around Ingham. 
The suspected cause is rat baiting. The main bait used by Ingham farmers 
is Klerat, which takes up to 11 days to kill the rats. The rats are 
caught and eaten after taking the bait but before dying. Wildlife 
consultant John Young fears the poiseoned rats may also be fed to the 
birds chicks. The decrease in numbers between 1992 and the present is marked.

                1992            1995
Masked Owl      50 br pairs     <10 br pairs
Grass Owl       200             50
Barn Owl        300             45
Barking Owl     35              15
Spotted Harrier 15 br pairs     2 juveniles

Dead kites have also been found near where farmers placed the baits.

One local farmer is advocating removing long grass and planting trees 
around creek beds and drains as one way of controlling rat numbers 
without poison. The other way is to maintain predatory bird population 
numbers, and that can't be done by poisoning them indirectly.

A review of rat baiting and it's effects on wildlife is envisaged.


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