GUNNED DOWN

By DAVID BANCROFT

THE apparent shooting of an increasing number of wedge-tailed eagles, white-bellied sea eagles, pelicans and other birds in the Whiteman Creek area has representatives of Clarence Valley WIRES calling for urgent action.

Members of the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service met yesterday with representatives of the Department of Environment and Conservation ? (DEC), formerly National Parks and Wildlife Service ? seeking an investigation that may lead to the prosecution of the culprit.

Two WIRES representatives, who did not wish to be identified for fear of retribution, said there was a concentration of shootings in one area.

"The majority of raptors from that area are gone," one said.

"We are getting less and less wedge-tailed eagles in the area.

"There was a pair nesting in a nearby property for years, but they just disappeared. All raptors are protected and endangered. We also have had reports of one jabiru being shot. "Jabirus are threatened and endangered.

"The native birds of the area have been decimated.

"Now all that is left are lorikeets, magpies and a few thousand crows.

"There was a family of black swans, but they, too, seem to have disappeared.

"It has been going on for a long time. The locals have had enough and are demanding something be done about it."

The pair said Clarence Valley WIRES had physical and statistical evidence of the 'carnage' and numerous reports from Whiteman Creek and Seelands residents who had found dead birds and not re- ported them.

Clarence Valley WIRES covers an area from New Italy to Wooli and west to the Gibraltar Range.

"An average of 110 raptors a year for the whole area come into care," the spokesman said.

"Of all the birds to be shot, this area has the highest concentra- tion.

"It has also come to our atten- tion that a large number of birds have been shot over water in this area, so they are never found."

The representatives said they had received a good hearing from DEC representatives, who were keen to get information that might lead to a conviction.

DEC spokesman Lawrence Orel said if anyone had information about the perpetrator 'we would certainly be interested to hear from them'. Any information could be treated in confidence.

He said if a person was convict- ed of killing a protected species, such as the wedge-tailed eagle or the white-bellied sea eagle, they could face fines of up to $11,000 and/or a six-month jail term.



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