Archive | 2014

A New Bird Disease to Watch

An often fatal viral disease detected in domestic pigeons in Australia last year  is here to stay and no one can tell what its impacts will be. Pigeon paramyxovirus has infected several species worldwide, and not just pigeons.  Raptors, pheasants, swans, cockatoos and budgerigars have been among the infected (the latter Australians in captivity overseas).…

Crazy decision to walk from crazy ant eradication in Queensland

We tend to excuse the long-past decisions that left us with nightmare invaders like rabbits, foxes, lantana and cane toads – people didn’t know any better or other values dominated those times. How will future generations judge the recent decision of the Queensland Government to leave them the burden of invasive yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis…

Dingo: great hunter, great conservation hope?

In one of the great ecological ironies, the loss of predators can disadvantage their prey species. Top predators are ecosystem shapers, exerting control over smaller predators and large herbivores.  Eliminate the top of the food chain and predators lower down may flourish to the greater detriment of prey species. This is why some ecologists advocate…

A verdict on Australia’s new biosecurity laws

The Australian Government intends to introduce new biosecurity laws to Parliament next month. Last week, the Invasive Species Council made a submission, endorsed by 18 other environment groups, on the draft laws. Here is a summary of our verdict on the draft Biosecurity Bill 2012. Reform is essential As replacement for the century-old Quarantine Act…

Weeds for aid: Australian wattles embroiled in dangerous overseas aid

Here is a media release from the Invasive Species Council and below is the abstract of the paper it refers to. Aid and development agencies are courting disaster in Africa by promoting Australian wattles, warns Invasive Species Council biologist Tim Low, whose paper reviewing the problem was published this week in Biological Invasions. “Aid agencies…

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A foul tale of marine invasions

After vociferous community protest, the Federal Government recently banned the 142 metre Abel Tasman ‘supertrawler’ from fishing in Australian waters while it investigates the environmental impacts of taking 18,000 tonnes of small fish from waters around southern Australia. But there is potentially a much greater risk that hasn’t received any mention. Of concern for Australians…

When hunting works for feral animal control

While the NSW Game Council markets a phony version of feral animal control by claiming that every rabbit, fox or pig killed by a hunter is a conservation win, some shooters are genuine ‘voluntary conservation hunters’. The Invasive Species Council opposes the recent move by the NSW Government to allow hunting in national parks because…

US songbirds decline as deer populations rise

Songbirds in North America need wolves and cougars. In the ecological equivalent of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’, songbirds benefit from large predators that kill deer that eat out their understorey habitat. In their paper Declining woodland birds in North America: should we blame Bambi?, Simon Chollet and Jean-Louis Martin trace the…

The cost of saving the Kimberley’s wildlife

Business 101: the first step to achieving a goal is to assess its feasibility and cost. That this is often neglected for conservation goals is symptomatic of a serious deficit of intent. Take the invasive species target of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy – to reduce invasive species impacts on threatened biodiversity by 10%. There has…

Invasive sea urchin endangers giant kelp forests

For the first time, a marine ecological community has been listed under federal environment laws – the sinuously beautiful, marvellously diverse Giant Kelp Marine Forests of South East Australia. They are endangered by climate change and invasive species. You could almost watch a giant kelp forest grow. The giant kelp species Macrocystis pyrifera can shoot…

Free trade vs biosecurity

International trade contributes to “a prosperous, sustainable Australia providing opportunity for all”, says the Australian Government’s trade policy.[1] Undoubtedly so. But international trade also provides opportunity for invasive organisms, which undermine Australia’s prosperity and sustainability. There is inherent conflict between free trade and biosecurity, and  ISC shares concerns with many farmers that biosecurity policy can…

Phoney feral control – the danger of recreational hunting in NSW national parks

Let there be no doubt. The plan to allow 15,000 amateur hunters into NSW national parks is not motivated by good environmental policy. At a superficial level, an offer to allow access to our national parks for volunteer hunters keen to shoot deer, goats, pigs and other feral animals sounds irresistible. Yet the evidence shows…

Invasive Species Council aims for a weedy success in the blogosphere

Greetings to all. This is the Invasive Species Council’s first foray into the blogosphere. We hope to make it essential reading for all of you involved in keeping Australian wildlife safe from invasive species – whether as a bush rehabilitator, conservation advocate, researcher or public servant. Indeed, we hope to mimic successful invaders and flourish…

Environment Health Australia – harnessing the energy and brainpower of community

The Australian Government must stem the rising tide of environmental pests by creating a national body tasked with harnessing the energy and brainpower of community volunteers already battling the nation’s escalating weed and feral animal crisis. The latest State of the Environment Report says 60 per cent of Australia’s nationally endangered species are threatened by…

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