Fox reduction a boon for birds

THE success of the fox control program has led to a productive breeding season of the threatened pied oystercatchers between South Ballina and Bundjalung National Park.

National Parks and Wildlife Service pest species officer Lisa Wellman said with the breeding season almost finished nine birds in that area had successfully reached fledgling stage with several more at pre-fledgling stage.

Ms Wellman said the most successful site was the bombing range in the park south of Evans Head.

“It was also good to see a fledgling produced from Salty Lagoon near Evans Head as the birds have had trouble breeding in this area in the past, due to disturbance,” she said.

“The fledglings have now been banded to monitor their movements and more are expected to fledge by mid-January.

“Fox control was very successful this year with no known losses of eggs or chicks to foxes.”

Ms Wellman said there had also been a significant reduction in bait takes over the season, which indicated a decline in the number of foxes.

The wildlife service has also thanked adjacent landowners who baited foxes on their properties, contributing to the significant reduction in fox numbers, and beach users who made an effort to comply with warning signs indicating shorebird nesting areas.

“Co-ordinated control programs like these make a huge difference to the breeding success of the pied oystercatchers,” Ms Wellman said.

“Another successful initiative was the use of shelters for chicks made by students from Broadwater. Chicks were observed using these.”

The wildlife service has asked beach users during the summer school holidays to be alert for the pied oystercatchers by giving them a wide berth and to drive responsibly.

Pet owners have also been asked to keep domestic dogs under control and only exercised in the designated dog exercise areas.

Pets are not permitted in any national park or nature reserve.

Drivers are reminded vehicles are not permitted north of the South Ballina access point of the park.

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