Pesky cockatoos and Sacred Ibis facing the cull

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Subject: Pesky cockatoos and Sacred Ibis facing the cull
From: "Bruce Roubin" <>
Date: Tue, 1 May 2001 21:31:54 +1000
Correct me if I'm wrong, but nobody seems to have raised a debate over the April 9 report in the Sydney Telegraph (by Simon Benson, Environment Reporter), titled "Pesky cockatoos facing the cull" - reproduced below. It refers to basically to plans to cull Sacred Ibis, then the prospect of the cockies getting it too. Where is this culling concept going to end? Why pick just on cockatoos - what about all the other metro-dwelling species which have proliferated or dominated the suburbs in recent times - e.g. Calcutta Mynahs, Noisy Miners, Willie Wagtails, Rainbow Lorikeets, Grey Butcherbirds, Silver Gulls (I think the last one is planned as well  - I think they're cute shuffing in the mudflats, but not so hanging around Maccas)
I understand that there's a risk of a natural dramatic population drop due to disease if things are left to nature (albeit in the artificial ecosystem), but I'm deeply inclined to wish that it is left to the natural forces nonetheless. Anyway I doubt that there's any real evidence of that, at least for bird populations in cities. I truly believe in the old saying, that "every cloud has a silver lining" (even if it is a cloud of s/c cockatoos). e.g. the only place in my suburb where I can find white-plumed honeyeaters nesting is in the spartanly-treed asphalt-covered carpark of the Coles supermarket (Caringbah, NSW), and I put that down to the fact that the same trees are filthy with introduced mynahs, which seems to keep the vicious native miners at bay. By the way, great "heards" of Sacred Ibis can be seen grazing the swamp at Towra reserve, and it's hard to reconcile this as "modified behaviour". More likely due to them being forced to come east after rural draining of their old time habitats.
verbatim quote:
"50 yrs ago they were regarded as rare species. today they are bombarding the city and fast becoming a public and environmental nuisance as their numbers continue to increase unabated. Now for the 1st time, authorities are considering plans to eradicate both the white ibis and the sulphur crested cockatoo - despite their status as protected native birds. A management plan is now being drafted to look at eradication methods for ibis which could include special hormones in food or the disruption of eggs and nests. Special permits have already been given to Centennial park, Botanic Gardens and Taronga Zoo to eradicate ibis by a method involving destruction of eggs. Authorities admitted the plan may attract criticism but claimed it was necessary for the long term survival of the species as well as pest management. Macquarie Uni is at the same time conducting the 1st ever population study into cockatoo numbers in Sydney to determine whether they need to be culled or controlled as well."It's not a hard question to deal with," said National Parks and Wildlife Service officer Geoff Ross who is heading the campaign. "It is a conservation decision.......if we did nothing about bird densities it could become a big problem. "We are looking at issues of ibis and cockatoos and there are a lot of local areas having problems with these birds. "if the ibis are seen to be above levels where they become sustainable, we need to ask how many we need to remove. They are not only having an impact on the human community but also on the other wildlfie communities." The NPWS is working with the RSPCA  to ensure any culling is conducted in a humane way. Other agencies such as the zoo, Botanic Gardens and Centennial Pk Trust are also involved in the program. The birds are responsible for pushing out other wildlife, water polution through their droppings, damaging trees and "interfering with people". When populations exceed sustainable levels disease can occur, threatening the future of the species itself and spreading it to other species. Mr Ross claims the ibis in particular has managed  to adapt to an urban environment and have changed their breeding behaviour as a result. A spokesman for Centennial Pk Trust confirmed it was looking at culling the birds which numbered up to 850 and had become a major pest. "But we won't do anything that isn't humane," the spokesman said.
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