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Local MPs in new program to save owls

A NEW community awareness program launched by Landcare Tasmania is seeking to reduce the impact modern poisons are having on predatory birds such as the endangered Masked Owl.

The program was launched with the assistance of two grants, secured with the assistance of Federal MPs Andrew Wilkie and Julie Collins.

Rat and mice baits labelled ‘single shot’ and ‘instant kill’ often contain Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs), which are highly toxic and frequently kill owls and other birds of prey which eat dead and dying rodents.

The most common active ingredients are Brodifacoum and Bromadiolone.

This program will provide information on alternative methods of control, including non-toxic methods, such as physical barriers, as well as older style rodenticides that have much less impact on bird populations.

It will also encourage retention of large old trees, used by owls for nesting, use of artificial nest boxes and enhancing habitat for native prey species such as bandicoots and other small mammals.

Landcare Tasmania chief executive officer Rod Knight said it was fantastic to secure these grants with the help of Ms Collins and Mr Wilkie.

He said so many households, businesses and organisations were using these new rodenticides that a large-scale community response was needed.

“Unfortunately, you can’t pick the newer poisons on brand alone, so we need people to understand the active ingredients in what they are using,” he said.

“If it starts with ‘bro’ it should be a no.”

The program is funded by two grants of $20,000, each from the Communities Environment Program, plus donations from the Birdlife Australia ‘Twitchathon’ and local environment business Keep Tassie Wild.

Member for Franklin Ms Collins said it was a pleasure to be able to support Landcare Tasmania in launching the new Rodenticides Community Awareness Program.

“Programs such as this are important in raising community awareness that some poisons have on our environment and the practical measures we can take to reduce this impact,” she said.

Member for Clark Mr Wilkie said this was a “fabulous program” and a very worthy recipient of public funding.

“Tasmania’s predatory birds are magnificent animals and it’s a tragedy that so many are perishing, often due to people’s naivety of the dangers of rodent poisons,” he said.

“There’s way too much human-induced pressure on the natural environment already, and many species are endangered, so anything we can do to cut nature some slack is worth doing.”

Further information about SGARs and the Rodenticide Community Awareness Program is available at www.landcaretas.org.au/rodenticides.

Caption: From left, Josh Pringle, Adam Cistern, Peter Vaughan, Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie, Member for Franklin Julie Collins and Rod Knight. Photo credit: Natasha Mulhall.