Hamilton Island culls more than 1000 animals over 18 mths

ANIMALS on Hamilton Island are only culled as a last resort the island have said.  

Management on the island said animals were culled and due to hygiene and disease concerns with the animals and damage to vegetation.  

Over an 18-month period, the resort has culled 393 agile wallabies, 599 brushtail possums, 35 sulphur-crested cockatoos, 36 pied currawongs, three torresian crows and one laughing kookaburra.

Hamilton Island has a detailed Protected Wildlife Management Strategy developed in close consultation with the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) which it abides by at all times, a spokeswoman for the island said.  

"The island also works closely with EHP, providing quarterly reports on the Return of Operations. Representatives from the Department visit the Island on occasion to audit the Damage Mitigation Permit (DMP) activity.

"Hamilton Island since it was developed some 35 years ago, has been and continues to be, a haven for many wildlife species of birds, mammals and reptiles.

"However, there are certain animals, particularly introduced species which are not native to the island, like Agile Wallabies and Brush-Tail Possums, that multiply beyond sustainable levels for the natural environment."

The spokeswoman said the ecosystem and environment can support populations of non-native species.

"Overpopulation in several species, including those introduced to the Island like Agile Wallabies, can cause unsustainable damage to the natural environment, including erosion of the understory vegetation which leads to sediment runoff into the Reef precinct. 

"Agile Wallabies are also a traffic hazard and an extreme hazard to aircraft.

"We use a number of deterrents to encourage birds and wildlife not to form unnatural behaviour patterns.

"These include installing physical barriers around bins and netting or deterrents in high level roosting areas above restaurants."

She said staff are continually trained around immediate removal of food from tables, prompt cleaning and waste coverage and protection.

We are proactive in informing guests about the dangers of feeding wildlife with food that is not part of their natural diet through literature and signage. 

"Sulphur crested cockatoos are resident on the Island but some birds become used to human contact and scavenge for human food sources and become aggressive (this is called habituation).

"They can bite and scratch and have the potential to pass diseases like giardia and psittacosis (Beak and Feather disease) to people. Despite very comprehensive public education about not feeding birds, the birds themselves can also become unhealthy.

"Any culling of animals and birds is done as a last resort when all other methods have been exhausted.  It is conducted as humanely and professionally as possible and is monitored by a consultant wildlife veterinarian employed for the purpose."

A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesperson said they recognise the need for ongoing management of some native wildlife species on the island to prevent unacceptable levels of damage or loss to property, and also for safety reasons at the airport and in the resort itself.   

EHP has been working with operators on Hamilton Island for more than 10 years regarding the use of non-lethal and lethal measures that may be used to manage the damaging impacts of native wildlife on the island.   

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said he was surprised to learn about the cull.  

"We believe you have to learn to live with native wildlife," he said.  

"I urge the resort to do more in terms of educating staff and customers and look at alternate means".  

Another island heavily populated with animals, Daydream Island, said they have not culled any wildlife in recent years.  

As a small island the safety and comfort of our guests is Daydream's priority and management would work with the proper authorities if it was necessary to restrict wildlife population to acceptable levels, a spokesman for the island said.  

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