DIS­PUTE OVER WAL­LA­BIES

Tablelands Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Bron­wyn Wheatcroft

RAC­ING Queens­land has de­nied sen­sa­tional al­le­ga­tions by the RSPCA that it was re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of wal­la­bies at Ma­reeba race­track last year.

A state gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion found dogs were the likely cu­plrits when in Oc­to­ber up to 50 wal­la­bies were found dead on the Ma­reeba Turf Club grounds.

An RSPCA spokesman said it too had in­ves­ti­gated the mat­ter thor­oughly but was un­able to find a per­son of in­ter­est.

“We also spoke to the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Science (DES) about it,” he said.

“Sadly Rac­ing Queens­land then con­tracted peo­ple to cull wal­la­bies as it said they were caus­ing safety con­cerns.

“We would still be in­ter­ested to speak with any­one that may be able to iden­tify the of­fend­ers.

“We would also like to send a clear mes­sage to the com­mu­nity that na­tive an­i­mals are not ex­empt from the An­i­mal Care and Pro­tec­tion Act and that there are other le­gal obli­ga­tions with re­spect to ap­pro­pri­ate han­dling of na­tive an­i­mals.”

A Rac­ing Queens­land spokesman said the body did not cull any wal­la­bies or ap­ply for a per­mit.

“Rac­ing Queens­land takes the wel­fare of an­i­mals se­ri­ously,” the spokesman said.

“Rac­ing Queens­land did not ap­ply to the depart­ment for a Dam­age Mit­i­ga­tion Per­mit (DMP).

“Rac­ing Queens­land has been in­formed that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Science was closed af­ter they found no ev­i­dence to sug­gest any il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity around the dis­cov­ery of de­ceased wal­la­bies.”

A Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Science spokes­woman said their find­ings about the pos­si­ble cause of mass wal­laby deaths at the Ma­reeba Race­course in Oc­to­ber 2017 were that the wal­la­bies were most likely killed by wild or un­con­trolled do­mes­tic dogs.

“The find­ings were based on pho­tos of dead wal­la­bies with in­juries con­sis­tent with a dog at­tack, video footage of mul­ti­ple dogs mov­ing around the area, a photo of two dogs fight­ing over a wal­laby taken around that time, and a re­view of the vet­eri­nary re­port,” the spokes­woman said.

“The vet­eri­nary re­port re­ferred to one wound look­ing like it may have been made by an ar­row, but it did not con­clude that an ar­row had been used to kill the wal­laby.

“Af­ter re­view­ing this ev­i­dence, DES closed its in­ves­ti­ga­tion as wildlife of­fi­cers found no ev­i­dence to sug­gest any breach of the Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Act 1992 had oc­curred.

“DES has not re­ceived any re­cent re­ports of wal­la­bies or kan­ga­roos hav­ing been killed in Ma­reeba.”

The DES spokes­woman said wal­la­bies are pro­tected wildlife and it is an of­fence to kill or harm them with­out a per­mit un­der Queens­land’s na­ture con­ser­va­tion laws.

“DES has not re­ceived a DMP ap­pli­ca­tion from Rac­ing Queens­land to re­move or cull any wildlife in the Ma­reeba Turf Club area,” the spokes­woman said.

Mem­bers of the public are urged to re­port any sus­pected of­fences against na­tive wildlife to DES by call­ing 1300 130 372.

In­di­vid­ual land­hold­ers are able to ap­ply to DES for a Dam­age Mit­i­ga­tion Per­mit (DMP) for lethal or non­lethal re­moval of prob­lem an­i­mals on their prop­erty.

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