Scrub­bers given or­ders to move

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - SAM SMALL­BONE

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.

Photo by SAM SMALL­BONE

Reef res­cuer: Dar­ryl Parker

Dis­turbed: Scrub turkey nest dam­aged by back hoe

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