Development threatens protected bird species
By DAWN COHEN
BALLINA councillors will decide today whether to protect a love nest created by 18 couples in the shire.
There are only 250 pied oyster-catcher birds in NSW, and 18 of the nesting pairs have made the South Ballina Beach their haven.
The 14 kilometre roosting site is now the most important breeding ground in NSW for the protected species.
But the Department of Environment and Conservation is concerned that future residential development close to beach could threaten their survival.
Steve Barnier, strategic services group manager for Ballina Shire Council, wants the council's general meeting today to approve an informal interagency group to manage the site between Richmond River Nature Reserve and Boundary Creek.
"We are initiating discussions to canvas the full range of concerns and appropriate strategies in managing the site," Mr Barnier said.
The birds are classified as a vulnerable species under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Nesting couples have increased from 14 in 1997 to 18 this year ? an increase the National Parks and Wildlife website attributes to fox baiting measures.
But Cr Margaret Howes, who owns a 46ha property with more than a kilometre fronting onto the beach, said feral cats were a bigger problem than foxes.
The local farmer, who obtained council permission to develop the land earlier this year, said she is building 150 metres back from potential nesting sites and 500 metres from fox baiting stations.
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