Feral short-sightedness, a poor mix with complex local issues

During her recent visit to the region NSW Environment Minister Robyn Parker, among other things, began the not for profit privatization of National Parks, talked to members of the National Parks Association about their concerns over allowing hunting in National Parks and went snorkeling at Montague Island to see seals.

Coincidentally, prior to the European invasion, Montague Island had as many terrestrial animals as Easter Island, two species of lizard. The history of trees on the islands also has similarities as they used to grow on both islands but now do not.

Research undertake earlier this century on Easter Island found that when people came they also brought the Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans) and while people cut down the trees, the rats ate the tree seeds and had no predators so their population exploded.

According to the author Terry Hunt ‘. . . An ecological catastrophe did occur on Rapa Nui, but it was the result of a number of factors, not just human short-sightedness’ and he concludes that the ultimate demise of Easter Islanders stemmed from European contact and diseases as occurred to the Kooris.

The author adds that ” . . . Mistakes or exaggerations in arguments for protecting the environment only lead to oversimplified answers and hurt the cause of environmentalism. We will end up wondering why our simple answers were not enough to make a difference in confronting today’s problems.”

This brings me to the greatly simplified argument over hunting in National Parks, where we have conservation groups supportive of the current fox and dog 1080 poisoning program even though it is as random as uncontrolled shooting, leads to a prolonged and painful death and around here has led to the extinction of dingos, the only natural predator of foxes and cats. 

Forests NSW have informed local residents around Mumbulla SF that they will be reviewing their long-term blitzkrieg 1080 baiting program, so we can only trust that conservation luminaries like Greens Councillor Keith Hughes, who has upset a lot of locals with his recent suggestion that target shooting with a bow and arrow is ‘the start of inculcation to gun culture‘, begin to take on some of the more complex issues, like why trees aren’t regenerating, rather than upsetting the locals.


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