Wombat poisoned by Mount Wilson resident

Common WombatCommon Wombat  
(Vombatus ursinus)
A legally protected native animal throughout Australia
[Source:  Healesville Sanctuary, Victoria, Zoos Victoria,
^http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville/animals/wombat]

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June 2013:

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Tragically, a native Wombat has been deliberately poisoned this month in Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains, and so the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is appealing for information from the local community.

Ranger Neil Stone of the NPWS Blue Mountains Region:

“A Wombat was recently found at Mount Wilson village (population 220), suffering from what a local veterinarian thinks was poisoning and sadly the animal had to be euthanized.

“Wombats become unpopular with landholders when they damage fences and infrastructure or trample on gardens.  But there are methods, including installing Wombat Gates, that enable Wombats to pass through properties without damaging them.”

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Wombat Swing GateAn example of a purpose-built Wombat Gate
If one can afford property at exclusive Mount Wilson with average prices currently $750,000  [^Source]
then one can afford to contribute a few purpose-built Wombat Gates across their property,
constructed by wildlife experts who know what they are doing!
[Photo Source:  Rocklily Wildlife Refuge, Taralga, NSW,
^ http://rocklilywombats.com/blog/rocklily-history/]

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NPWS Ranger Neil Stone:

“Wombats are extremely strong and determined, constructing their burrows (often under homes) to escape from the heat and to hide from predators (typically domestic and feral dogs nowadays).  The burrows can be up to 30 metres long which can cause conflict between Wombats and humans.”  

“Wombats and all other native animals are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and Regulations and it is illegal to harm them without a licence.  There are fines and possible imprisonment for people found to have intentionally harmed native wildlife.”

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[Source:  ‘Not so divine: Wombat dies in suspected poisoning’, 20130612, Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper (print only), p.15]

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Wildlife Poisoning is Animal Harm

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Wombats being mammals are sentient animals, meaning that they feel emotion and pain.   An animal is ‘sentient‘ if it is capable of being aware of its surroundings, its relationships with other animals and humans, and of sensations in its own body, including pain, hunger, heat or cold.

Individuals who harm animals including the harming of wildlife such as by poisoning, tend to harbour a personality disorder.  Statistically, animal abusers are five times more likely to go on to commit violent crimes against people.

Deviant behaviors like animal abuse generally originate from a traumatic childhood.  The American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty as one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder.

The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines conduct disorder as  “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age appropriate societal norms or rules are violated.”   Conduct disorder is found in those who abuse animals and abuse people.

Clinical evidence indicates that animal cruelty is one of the symptoms usually seen at the earliest stages of conduct disorder, often by the age of eight. This information has only recently been included in the DSM so some psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers are just now becoming aware of it.  Many psychological, sociological and criminology studies in recent decades have clearly shown that violent offenders have adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty.

Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Asia, Jason Baker, has said, “We believe that cruelty to animals is not inherent, but learned. That being said, teaching kindness and respect for animals – in our schools and homes – will foster empathy, the ability to understand what someone else feels.” He added, “Incorporating the simple concepts of kindness and respect into our daily lives and teaching our children to respect and protect even the smallest and most despised among us will help kids value one another.”

The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is becoming so well established that many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. >>

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[Source:  ‘Animal Cruelty Syndrome’,  by Canadians for Animal Welfare Reform, ^http://cfawr.org/animal-abuse.php]

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Martin Bryant with wombatMartin Bryant as a teenager nursing a juvenile Wombat
Bryant reportedly tortured animals as a child.
In 1996, at age 29 Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 21 others
at Port Arthur Tasmania

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Penalties in NSW for Harming protected Fauna

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National Parks and Wildlife Act (NSW) 1974

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Sect 98   ‘Harming protected fauna, other than threatened species, endangered populations or endangered ecological communities’ 

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(Ed:  i.e. Wombats)

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(1)   In this section, protected fauna does not include threatened interstate fauna, threatened species, endangered populations, endangered ecological communities, or locally unprotected fauna under section 96.

(2)  A person shall not:

(a)  harm any protected fauna, or (a1) harm for sporting or recreational purposes game birds that are locally unprotected fauna, or
(b)   use any substance, animal, firearm, explosive, net, trap, hunting device or instrument or means whatever for the purpose of harming any protected fauna.

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Maximum penalty:

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(a)  100 penalty units and, in a case where protected fauna is harmed an additional 10 penalty units in respect of each animal that is harmed, or

(b)  imprisonment for 6 months, or both. >>

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Note:  As at 2013, 1 penalty unit in NSW equates to $110.  So 100 +10 penalty units incurs a fine of $12,100 per protected Wombat harmed     [Calculation:    (100 + 10) x $110]

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[Sources:  National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, No 80, Section 98,  (historical version but this section still current), pp 149-150, ^http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/legislation/NationalParksAndWildlifeAct1974.htm ; ^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penalty_units]

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So who killed the Mt Wilson Wombat?

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Dead Wombat
A common Wombat sight
…”Just Roadkill”

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It is likely that Mount Wilson’s Wombat was poisoned by an ignorant and frustrated local landholder.  He is one of just a few hundred residents living at remote Mount Wilson village, and probably he is some arrogant newcomer with no respect for the natural environment or its resident wildlife who were there first.  It is extremely rare for a female to commit wildlife poisoning.

The perpetrator is likely to be someone holding an Anglicised mindset toward rural property, desiring the exotic deciduous garden and with a phobia towards the natural Australian bush.  Whereas the more established residents tend to be respectful towards the special environment in which they live and have become more accommodating towards the place’s resident wildlife.

Mount Wilson, Blue MountainsMount Wilson lies in a remote forested wilderness region of the Blue Mountains
And the native Wombats have lived there thousands of years before
Colonial Deforestation
Housing Development
Anglicised Garden Romanticism
[Source:  Google Earth]
(click image to enlarge)

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Mount Wilson
 Mount Wilson
Best described as a remote hilltop residential hamlet
Situated on an ancient volcanic hill
Since the 1870s, logged, burned and settled by English colonists
amongst the ‘Wombat Holes’
[Source:  Google Earth]
(click image to enlarge)

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Hillcrest Lane Mount WilsonHillcrest Lane (right), Mount Wilson
[Source: Google Maps, 2013]

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Mount Wilson Cathedral of Ferns
Mount Wilson before the Anglicising
[Source:  Mt Wilson/Mt Irvine Historical Society, ^http://www.mtwilson.com.au/]

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Consistent with the profile of the typical member of the Game Council NSW, the perpetrator is likely to be a middle-aged or older male Babyboomer approaching 65, having an anthropocentric worldview of Nature, and an evangelistic belief that economic growth and personal wealth accumulation is a right – Wombats being collateral damage in rural housing development.

Farrer Road Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson bushland

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The perpetrator has not yet been confirmed, and anyone with information about this harmful offence is asked to contact the closest NPWS base at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in nearby Blackheath.

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Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, BlackheathNPWS Blue Mountains Heritage Centre
Located towards the eastern end of Govetts Leap Road
outside the nearby township of  Blackheath

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The ‘Common‘ Wombat?

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The Common Wombat (Vombatus ursinus) is also known as the Coarse-Haired Wombat or Bare-Nosed Wombat.   In the case of the Bare-Nosed Wombat, this reference to its nose, distinguishes it from its other two subspecies, the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) and the endangered Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii).

The ‘Common Wombat‘ is a nocturnal marsupial native to south eastern Australia and is found in small sections of southeast tip of Queensland, eastern New South Wales, eastern and southern Victoria, and south-east South Australia.  They are common throughout Tasmania and also on Flinders Island in Bass Strait.

Wombat Distribution

The head of the Common Wombat is more rounded than that of the hairy-nosed subspecies.  Their short ears are triangular and slightly rounded. Their nose is large, shiny black and furless.  Their fur is coarser, thicker and longer than that of the Hairy-nosed Wombats, better suited to a colder, wetter habitat. Fur colour varies from sandy to brownish black or even grey, sometimes flecked.

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Bare-Nosed WombatBare-Nosed Wombat
a more respectful naming than ‘Common’

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Wombats have short legs, and the second and third toes of the hind feet are fused, with a double claw used in grooming. Wombats are solid and stocky, with short legs and tail. Their front legs and shoulders are powerful. Their front feet are large, with bear-like long claws. They use their front legs for digging burrows. The dirt is pushed to one side and the Wombat backs out, moving loose dirt with front or back paws.   It grows to an average of 98 cm long and up to a healthy weight of 26 kg.

Wombats are stilll classed as ‘least concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’).  [Ed:   So were the Koala and Tasmanian Devil until recently].

At Healesville Sanctuary in Victoria, more than 2,000 sick and injured native animals treated each year including Wombats at its Australian Wildlife Health Centre.

[Source:  Healesville Sanctuary, Zoos Victoria, Victorian State Government, ^http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville/animals/wombat]

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Healesville SanctuarySituated on Badgers Creek
A place of inspiration to this Editor,
when visited as a child.

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Although Wombats have been named by European Australians as the ‘Common Wombat‘, their numbers and their existence value does not translate to anyone treating them as commonplace.

Common Wombats were once widespread from south-eastern Queensland, through NSW along the Great Dividing Range and most of Victoria. Now they have a fragmented distribution in NSW, being most abundant in the south-eastern parts of the state. Remaining populations are under continued pressure from land clearing, road mortality, disease and illegal shooting.  These pressures may be acute for some local populations.

While the word ‘Wombat’ is derived from the Aboriginal name for the animal, ‘common’ was added at a time when these animals were plentiful and the Australian bush landscape relatively less destroyed by colonial settlement.   Wombats were likened to European Badgers by the early colonists.

We prefer the more respectful name, ‘Bare-Nosed Wombat‘.

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In 2010, university student Nikki Selles, from the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Western Sydney, undertook a field fauna study on Wombats in the Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine area.   Due to the behaviour of slow moving, ground-dwelling Wombats being sensibly shy and noctural, Selles used camera-trap data to identify their habitat and distribution in the urban-bush interface.

Results ought to be obtainable from the university.

[Source:  Mount Wilson and Community Newsletter, May 2010, ^http://www.mtwilson.com.au/images/stories/MWPA_Newsletters/May_2010.pdf]

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While the Bare-Nosed Wombat is not yet threatened with extinction, the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is endangered.  This is mainly due to overgrazing by sheep and cattle destorying their fragile semi-arid habitat across more central Australia, as well as the culture of broadscale hazard reduction and uncontrolled bushfires.

Mount Wilson also provides vital native habitat for fauna species that are recognised as endangered.  These include the Sooty Owl (Tyto tenebricosa), the Eastern Bent Wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis),  the Large eared pied bat (Chalinolobus dwyeri), Little John’s Tree Frog  (Litoria littlejohni), and the Eastern False Pipistrelle (Falsistrellus tasmaniensis).

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Living with Resident Wombats

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WombatWombats are locally territorial, like Humans
Try to relocate them, and they will stubbornly resist – even after repeated flood, drought, bushfire and earthquake
Ask any Human who has endured such tempest.

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<<Wombats are an iconic part of the protected fauna of NSW.   They are extremely strong and determined animals.

 

They can build their burrows under Human-introduced houses, driveways and cattle stock routes.  This may cause Humans inconvenience and conflict between Wombats and non-Indigenous Humans.

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But Newcomer Humans need to respect that Wombats were there first. 

Who likes Invasion or Displacement?

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Human-Wombat conflicts can be respectfully resolved and accommodated by wisdom – by learning about the behaviour of Wombats and understanding their habitat needs.

The Bare-Nosed Wombat is the species most frequently found in NSW. They prefer temperate forested areas of the coast, ranges and western slopes. Slopes above creeks and gullies are favoured sites for burrows and they like to feed in grassy clearings, including farm paddocks.

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Wombat Habitat Needs

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Wombats construct burrows to escape the heat and hide from predators. They prefer areas where it is easy for them to dig. The burrows can be up to 30 metres long and several metres deep and are usually situated above creeks and gullies and may have multiple entrances. Active burrows are often characterised by fresh cube-shaped droppings and scratch marks as well as freshly dug soil at the burrow entrance. Wombats will often build more than one burrow within their home range of 5 to 25 hectares.

Wombats are mostly solitary animals, but overlapping home ranges can occasionally result in a number of Wombats using the same burrow. Wombats are possessive about their particular feeding grounds and they will mark out these areas by leaving scent trails and droppings. These markings are prominently placed on rocks and logs around the boundaries. If an intruding Wombat encroaches on another’s territory it will be discouraged through a series of snorts and screeches and at times physical aggression.

Breeding occurs year-round with each female typically producing one young.  In some areas, however, Wombats are seasonal breeders and may have dependent young in burrows from April to June. Young Wombats take up to 21 months to reach full independence and two years to become sexually mature.

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Wombat Behaviour

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Wombats become unpopular with landholders when they damage fences and infrastructure or trample upon gardens. Undetected burrows can be a hazard to livestock as they may trip or fall into burrows and injure themselves.

Many of the problems caused by Wombats can be resolved with some patience and innovation. Landholders willing to share their property with Wombats may find that there are simple solutions to most problems. For example, a post or small strand fence can be used to mark burrows in paddocks or driveways to keep stock away from burrow entrances.

Wombats use the same trails to get to and from their preferred feeding areas. Instead of going around an obstacle, such as a fence, a determined Wombat will try to go through, or under it instead.  Installing purpose-built ‘Wombat Gates’ at known Wombat breech points along a fence will allow them to pass through a fence without damaging it.  The fence needs to continue to exclude other animals such as wallabies, rabbits and foxes.

Removing the lowest fencing wire (15 cm above ground level) will also allow Wombats to move through an area without damaging the fence. This is a much cheaper option than excluding them completely.

Check first with a Certified National Parks Wildlife Ranger.

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Excluding wombats from Rural Property

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It is possible to exclude Wombats from continuing to use a burrow that is under a building but this requires intervention by a Certified National Parks Wildlife Ranger.

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Increasing Native Vegetation

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Wombats prefer to burrow in areas of vegetation and rocky debris. Land clearing has forced Wombats to build burrows along creeks and drainage lines where vegetation still exists. Wombats are also often incorrectly blamed for causing erosion, which is more likely due to poor land management practices.

Planting trees and revegetating areas away from creeks can play a vital role in reducing Wombat burrowing activity along creek beds. Retaining existing trees, logs and rocks, and establishing new areas of native vegetation encourages Wombats to construct burrows in less fragile areas and reduces the risk of erosion.

Check first with a Certified National Parks Wildlife Ranger.

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Trapping or Relocating Wombats Prohibited

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The trapping and relocation of Wombats is prohibited and attracts heavy fines.

Wombats are territorial animals and if relocated, they are likely to be harassed or even killed by resident Wombats.  Wombats are classified as protected fauna under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

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Can I bulldoze or infill a Wombat burrow?

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No!   Only inactive Wombat burrows may be destroyed, but each one needs to be first validated by a Certified National Parks Wildlife Ranger.

Bulldozing an active burrow can lead to wombats being buried alive and suffering a slow and painful death.  Even if you have located an apparently vacant burrow, you must not fill it in without confirming that it is inactive. Burrow activity can be confirmed by placing sticks across each entrance and checking (every day for at least a week) if these are disturbed.

Remember that if you think you have an inactive burrow, check first with a Certified National Parks Wildlife Ranger.

contact your local National Parks office for expert verification before any action.

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[Source:  NSW Government, ^http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/LivingWithWombats.htm#gate]

 

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Further Reading

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[1]   Wombat Gate Design

>Wombat Gate Design   (PDF, 850kb)

^http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Attachments/LBUN-84H7FT/$FILE/Wombat%20gate%20design.pdf

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[2]   Guide to Living with Wombats

>Living with Wombats  (PDF, 720kb)

[Source:  ^http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/samurraydarlingbasin/plants-animals/native-plants-and-animals/native-animals]

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[3]  National Parks and Wildlife Act (NSW) 1974

^http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_act/npawa1974247/

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[4]    Wombat Protection Society of Australia

^http://www.wombatprotection.org.au/

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Why Do Wombats Need Protection? 

Lack of Legislative Protection/Enforcement!

<< In Australia native animals are “the property of the Crown”. This means that no-one owns wombats, they can’t be kept as pets and to do anything with them you have to be licensed by government departments.

Government Departments do little to protect or help wombats. Most research and all welfare (rescuing injured wombats, raising the joeys of mothers killed in collisions with vehicles, removing wombats from unsuitable places) is undertaken by voluntary organizations.   While penalties exist if someone is found to hurt or kill a wombat, the same government departments charged with wombat care issue permits to farmers to cull wombats. Sadly, there is often no check whether this is necessary, whether it is done humanely or any insistence that alternative options be employed before issuing such permits.

On the other hand although penalties exist for the illegal killing of wombats, such killing occurs every night where on a farms they are shot, buried  alive and gassed and on the highways of Australia vehicles indiscriminately drive directly at wombats without penalty.  Live joeys left in their dead mother’s pouches die slowly and a lack of public education means few Australians understand how to rescue a joey still living after its mother falls victim to road kill.  >>

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Australian Coat of ArmsThe Crown
Disinterested in protecting Australian wildlife
The kangaroo and emu images are but token symbolism
 

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[5]  The Wombat Foundation

^http://www.wombatfoundation.com.au/

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<<The Wombat Foundation is a charitable organisation set up to support activities that aim to bring the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat back from the brink of extinction.

The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is one of the world’s most endangered species – it is more endangered that the Panda.

In the 1980s, there were as few as 35 wombats remaining on the planet – all at Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland. A second population was established at Richard Underwood Nature Refuge in southern Queensland in 2009. At last count, in 2010, there were a total of 176 wombats across the two sites. Since then, the population has continued to grow: in 2012, the combined population at the two sites was estimated at 200 wombats. >>

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[6]   Wombat Awareness Organisation

^http://wombatawareness.com/

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<<We are a charity established to help save the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) from extinction.

The wombat is an Aussie icon but few people are aware of the peril these gorgeous little animals face: drought, floods, climate change, disease, vehicular incidents and culling – both legal and illegal. It’s not rocket science to see these animals are in trouble but thanks to the work of WAO volunteers, there is hope!

Currently, the wombats are being affected by an unidentified disease outbreak. The visual symptoms are hair loss and emaciation, internally the wombats are anemic and in some cases there is liver damage and heart disease. The direct cause is unknown however it is suspected that due to an increase in weeds there is a decrease in food availability therefore the wombats are forced to eat what they can most of which unfortunately is toxic. >>

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[7]    WIRES

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.

^http://www.wires.org.au/

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[8]  Rocklily Wildlife Refuge

Taralga, NSW, ^ http://rocklilywombats.com/blog/rocklily-history/

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<<This website is about Rocklily Wildlife Refuge, and a few other wildlife carers we know in Australia too. Providing a safe place for our native flora and fauna and the various wildlife projects we are undertaking can be an expensive business, so we sell reasonably priced, quality Australian-made gifts and artisan products to raise money for our wildlife projects.

..This website has come about with our move to Rocklily Wildlife Refuge: a safe place for wild native animals just inside the SW border of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, and within the locked gate of the Sydney Water Catchment. >>

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[8]   Healesville Sanctuary

^http://www.zoo.org.au/healesville

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<<Healesville Sanctuary, or the Sir Colin MacKenzie Fauna Park, is a zoo specializing in native Australian animals. It is located at Healesville in rural Victoria, Australia (east of Melbourne), and has a rare history of successfully breeding Australia’s native animals.

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[9]   People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals  (PETA)

^http://www.petafoundation.org/

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[10]   Voiceless, The Animal Protection Institute

Paddington, New South Wales

^https://www.voiceless.org.au/the-issues/animal-sentience

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[11]   The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness

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‘The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness’, 20120707, by Philip Low,  Paper presented at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, England, ^http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf

<< In 2012, an international group of eminent neuroscientists signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which confirmed that many animals, including all mammals and birds, possess the “neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” >>

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>Cambridge Declaration On Consciousness 2012   (PDF, 30kb)

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[12]    The Baby Boomers Who Destroyed the World

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‘The Baby Boomers Who Destroyed the World’, 20110218, by Karlsie, in Subversify, ^http://subversify.com/2011/02/18/the-baby-boomers-who-destroyed-the-world/]

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[13]   Mount Wilson Property Prices

^http://reareports.realestate.com.au/house_prices_growth_rates/nsw/mount_wilson/2786

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Mount Wilson Property Prices 2013

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Mount Wilson compared with Blue Mountains Property Prices 2013.

Mt Wilson Vs Blue Mountains Property Prices 2010-2013.

Mt Wilson Vs Blue Mountains Property Prices 2003-2013.

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Wombat Joey

2013 Price?

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One Response to “Wombat poisoned by Mount Wilson resident”

  1. Richard Browne says:

    Hopefully the piece of shit who did this to this beautiful Wombat will die in agony of some horrible cancer..I wish this upon you..you evil scum..

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