Scrubbers given orders to move
CONSTRUCTION workers have damaged an active orange-footed scrub fowl nest using a backhoe machine on the corner of Murphy Street and Island Point Road to build an aluminium fence.
The orange-footed scrub fowl, also known as the scrub hen, is regularly seen in the Douglas region. It is easily described as a large fowl with a small head with orange legs and feet.
Local resident Graham Lawrence only noticed the damage to the nest a few days ago and reported the incident to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
“About 25 per cent of the nest has been taken away and spread 10-20 metres down the hill,” he said.
“There’s no need for moving the nest or damaging it. They have no right to destroy the nest there was plenty of room for them to build the fence without touching it.”
A typical nest or mount is two to three metres tall and up to 15 metres in diameter and can weigh approximately 50 tonnes.
The damaged mound is almost five metres wide by one and a half metres high before it was broken by backhoe and is now nothing more than a scattered pile of dirt and leaves.
According to the Department of Environment Resources and Management it is illegal to remove or damage an active bird’s nest when there are eggs or chicks present in the area.
Environmental scientist with a Masters of Tropical Environmental Management Matthew Gillis from Mission Beach said that this is the time of year that the brush turkeys are nesting.
"They are tending the nest if there are fresh diggings around the mound. There is a high probability that there were eggs in the nest,” he said.
The Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 states that tampering an animal’s breeding place can serve a maximum penalty of $165,000.
When Mr Lawrence walked down to inspect the nest there were a number of holes dug around the mound.
“I saw the Scrub hens walking around the back yard on Sunday, they have been scratching holes in the ground and have appeared to be aggressive with each other, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were mating,” he said.
More than one pair of Orange Footed Scrubfowls can use the mound to produce large numbers of young each year.
“It is a shame that such a beautiful animal in such an iconic region like Port Douglas is treated this way,” he said.
Reef rescuer: Darryl Parker
Disturbed: Scrub turkey nest damaged by back hoe