kindness & cruelty: a postscript

Subject: kindness & cruelty: a postscript
From: Alexandra Appleman <>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 07:53:58 +1000
I would like to thank all birding-aus subscribers who responded to my
posting last week. I found the colour of vehicles posting particularly

Just to clarify a couple of points from my earlier email, I deduced that
the road kill was deliberate in that the body of the Stone-curlew was
outside the traffic lane and a vehicle would have had to swerve a good
metre in order to hit it.  It died during the early hours of the morning
when traffic is light and the birds are out foraging. They have a large
wingspan which they unfurl slowly so they tend to run away rather than take
flight - this one appeared to be making a last attempt to escape.  

Later the same day I stopped my car by the perimeter fence at the RAAF Base
where a pair of Stone-curlews successfully hatched 2 chicks on 28 August;
both survived at least 25 days (22 Sept) and 1 chick survives still (22
October)and at 55 days is fully grown. Whilst I was watching a utility
pulling a trailer loaded with dead palm fronds roared along the inside of
the perimeter fence, braked, reversed, drove up the bank where the two
adults and surviving chick were resting forcing the birds to flee, reversed
back down, straightened and drove off. 

As live around the corner I rang the RAAF base and lodged a complaint with
the duty officer, detailing what I had seen and explaining that I was from
James Cook University and involved with the Townsville Airport Bird Strike
avoidance program. Under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Act (1999) there are provisions for destroying wildlife if
lives are placed in jeopardy but this is not the responsibility of the
company contracted to tend the grounds at the RAAF base; and being nowhere
near the runways the birds did not present a threat to anyone. I also
telephoned the Airport Security officers who patrol the runways and are
empowered to use duck shot or if necessary, live rounds, to take out
'leader' birds and disperse flocks from the runways. They were not amused
by the contractor's antics either.

On the kindness side I must mention that most corporations and particularly
the military are very aware of their public image and try to do the best
thing by native wildlife and to rein in 'cowboy' operators.  

Alex Appleman

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