Over the past four months Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital has seen a number of injured birds relating to gunshot wounds primarily from slug gun pellets. The species of birds received by the Wildlife Hospital included two Collared Sparrowhawks, a Wedge-tailed Eagle, a Pink Cockatoo, a Black Kite and a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. These birds were found in varying situations from the Dubbo locality and other regions including Bourke and Mudgee, and were brought to the Wildlife Hospital by members of the public and a WIRES volunteer.
As a result of the wounds all the birds were unable to fly and were in poor body condition. From the six birds brought into the Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital four of them were unsuitable for rehabilitation and release due to the extent of their injuries and had to be euthanased. One of the Collared Sparrowhawk’s had minor muscle damage and was returned to the carer for rehabilitation and release, whilst the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is currently receiving treatment for its injuries and being cared for by Wildlife Hospital staff.
Whilst the cases have been reported to the National Parks and Wildlife Service as the birds are protected species, it is a timely reminder that harming a protected species is an offence. The fine for harming protected fauna is a maximum of $11,000 or six months imprisonment, or if the species is threatened the fine can be up to $220,000 or two years imprisonment.
Conserving and protecting these species and others in our community will ensure their wild populations remain stable and that they are able to be seen around in the area for many years to come.