The Blue Mountains have native wildlife?

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Blue Mountains Gazette newspaper on page 12 of 10th August 2011, written by Rose and Brett Everingham of Lapstone, Blue Mountains, Australia.

‘Native Wildlife Alert’

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‘On the evening of Tuesday July 29 a beautiful Echidna was unfortunately hit by a car outside our house.

We would like to publicly thank the three lovely young gentlemen who stopped to assist us as we moved it off the road, and then rang WIRES.

It was a particularly upsetting experience, no one wants to see any creature hit by a car, especially our native wildlife.  The young gentleman who hit the Echidna was understandably distressed, as it is not something you would usually expect to see, and we reassured him that it was simply an accident.

It is a timely reminder though to take care when driving at night, particularly on Governors Drive which is often used as a race track for some drivers. Unfortunately the Echidna could not be saved.  Once again a thanks to the young gentleman who stayed with my husband and son whilst they buried it.

Whilst a sad experience, it brought relief to know that Lapstone still has such beautiful native wildlife existing amongst us in the bush.’
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Editor’s Comments:

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1. The killing of a native echidna by a driver of a car is an horrific tragedy for the echidna and its likely dependent mate and offspring, which were not mentioned.  Each killing of adult native wildlife harms the viability of the local population of that species in the area.

2. Rose and Brett are right to have done what they did and it is valuable to the local community that Rose has taken the trouble to share this tragic event via her letter in the local paper.

3. The cause of the Echidna’s death was that the car driver was driving too fast to prevent killing it on the road.  Most drivers drive too fast and are not competently trained to drive for the conditions.

It could have been a child killed while running on to the road. I am sure the local paper would have had more than allowing Rose’s letter, which reflects our culture that human life holds selfishly somehow higher values than wildlife.  One may call this ‘speciesism’, a term few are aware.

4. Echidna habitat was there many thousands of years before European colonists destroyed its environment and selfishly carved a road through its habitat, with no care for any native wildlife values.

5. Such roads as Governors Drive, whether constructed by local Blue Mountains Council or larger ones by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA), not only destroy native vegetation and wildlife habitat in their construction, as well as allowing sediment pollution of downhill watercourses; no respect is paid to the inevitable road death consequences caused by vehicles using the road.  The underlying reason is that human values for wildlife are so low across the community that there is hardly any call for wildlife protection from the threats of road making and its consequential traffic menace. Worse is that perverted attitudes toward wildlife and deviant behaviour prevail to the extent that the killing of wildlife on our roads is disparagingly dismissed as ‘roadkill’.  If the same term were applied to pedestrian deaths on our roads, there would be an uproar by extreme humanists.

6. No attempt is made by road builders (local council or the RTA) to facilitate separation of ground dwelling native wildlife from the inevitable risk of death from introduced road traffic.  Some roads across Australia have wildlife fencing to prevent native animals such as wallabies, wombat and Echidnas from accessing the road.  Others factor wildlife corridors into the design of roads that destroy wildlife habitat.  It is an indictment on both the Blue Mountains Council and the RTA that there are no wildlife fences or wildlife corridors throughout the Blue Mountains.

7. That Rose wrote “it is not something you would usually expect to see” is a sad indictment on the demise of wildlife populations across the Blue Mountains since colonial conquest, such that now people living in the Blue Mountains do not expect to see wildlife any longer.  Villages like Lapstone have become so urbanised that they are all but outer suburbs of Sydney.  The natural bush environment has been lost to a sterile parkland to suit the needs of humans.  The values of native wildlife and their habitat continue to be ignored by humans who live and drive through the Blue Mountains and by custodial government authorities – Blue Mountains Council, NSW Department of Environment (etc), Australian Department of Environment (etc).

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Yet, despite the arrogant disregard for wildlife values across the Blue Mountains, especially at the human interface, other regions take a more proactive view, such as in Sydney’s Northern Beaches region.

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Uncontrolled speeding on Australian roads

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Related Articles:

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‘Wallaby becomes roadkill after fence holed’

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by Brenton Cherry, 20110112, Many Daily, ^http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/wallaby-becomes-roadkill-after-fence-holed/

Eira Battaglia, Mandy Beaumont, Niamh Kenny,
Cassie Thompson and Elvira Lanham at the damaged fence.
(Photo by Virginia Young)

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‘A hole has been cut in the wildlife-proof fence along Wakehurst Parkway at Oxford Falls, leading to at least one wallaby being killed.  The death – discovered by Jacqui Marlow from the Northern Beaches Roadkill Prevention Group – was the first along the stretch of road since the fence was installed.

“Why would anyone cut a hole in the fence?” she said.  “I found the hole after seeing a dead wallaby in the fence area.

“It’s the first one killed in the fence area since it was installed, which shows that it works.”

Ms Marlow said she had become disenchanted by the actions of some people.

“At the moment my opinion of humans is not very good, especially when it comes to their attitude to nature,” she said.  “I’m really tired of dealing with it, the deaths are starting to get me down.”

Fellow group member Eira Battaglia said now more than ever motorists had to be aware of wildlife on our roads.

“Wallabies are around after the recent burn-off,” she said.

“Eight have been killed in the past week so please drive carefully, especially at dusk when the wallabies may be out searching for food.”

A spokesman for the RTA said a maintenance crew would permanently fix the hole as soon as possible.  “A temporary repair has already been carried out,” he said.

RTA representatives yesterday met with the roadkill prevention group for a tour of local hot spots and potential sites for additional fauna fencing.’

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‘Peering down the corridor’

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Source: ^http://www.coolmelbourne.org/articles/2009/07/peering-down-the-corridor/

Wildlife Corridors do exist and are effective where human communities
care enough to insist on them.
But don’t expect road designers and engineers in Australia to suggest the concept.

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‘Conservationists have long recognised the value of using wildlife corridors to connect wilderness areas, and there is mounting evidence to show that these corridors help many species, from the big to the small to the airborne to the aquatic.

But now ‘megacorridors’ are taking the wildlife corridor concept to a whole new level. Australia’s Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GERI) is Australia’s answer to the megacorridor.

Aiming to create a 2800km wilderness megacorridor from North Queensland to Victoria, the initiative is about halfway towards completion of the first and most critical stage.saving-wilderness-geri-map-new-scientist.jpg

It is an extremely important move in the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity: after more than 200 years of development, the landscape of eastern Australia has changed significantly.

Fences, roads, dams, industrial and agricultural lands, powerlines, towns and cities cut across the country, isolating natural areas which have become ‘islands’ on which plants and animals have become isolated.

This means that many ecosystems have been fragmented, that the landscape’s capacity to maintain our unique plants, animals and Aboriginal cultural heritage has been reduced. It also means that remaining ecosystems are finding it harder to filter and clean our air, maintain the health of our soils, and produce unpolluted fresh water for the 93% of the Australian population that lives along Australia’s eastern seaboard.

This is no quick fix project however: climate change and the migration of human populations means it could take as long as 100 years before the project’s success can be measured.’

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‘Wildlife corridor from far south to far north’

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by Mat Churchill, 20100716, ^ http://www.tourismportdouglas.com.au/Wildlife-corridor-from-far-south-to-far.4317.0.html


The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, a proposed 2,800km long conservation corridor

Patches of state and national parks around the country just aren’t sufficient to protect Australia’s native plants and animals.

According to a report commissioned by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, a wildlife corridor 2,800km long stretching from Melbourne to the Atherton Tablelands would allow species to migrate when their habitat changes due to climate change.

”One of the impacts of climate change is that species will have to move around to find suitable habitat resources. We need to make the whole landscape more biodiversity friendly.” said Brendan Mackey, an environmental scientist who wrote the report.

Dubbed the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative, the corridor would be made up of public and privately owned land.

Ian Pulsford, from the Department of Climate Change and Water, said areas earmarked to become part of the corridor would see a person acting as a broker visit the private landholder to discuss the program.

”The corridor is voluntary but there has been a good response from private landholders, and there are incentives to make your land part of the conservation area,” said Mr Pulsford.

The corridor concept is a new way of thinking when it comes to conservation. And a change in the way we do things in Australia is clearly needed when nearly half of the world’s mammal extinctions in the last 200 years have happened here, along with 61 species of flowering plants among others. The world’s current extinction rate is 1,000 higher than nature intended.

”The conventional thinking is wait until things are really bad and then desperately try to save things at the last minute,” said Professor Mackey.

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Further Reading:

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[1]   ^http://www.coolmelbourne.org/our-environment/wildlife/

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