Crick­eters call for corella so­lu­tion

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Dis­trict cricket lead­ers have weighed into de­bate sur­round­ing long-billed corel­las in Hor­sham by call­ing on mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers to take a ‘more ag­gres­sive ap­proach’.

Hor­sham Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Dar­ren Ch­ester­field said the use of re­mote-con­trol drone air­craft to scare and break up corella flocks was do­ing lit­tle to de­ter the birds.

He said he would write on be­half of the as­so­ci­a­tion to Hor­sham Ru­ral City Coun­cil ask­ing for a stronger re­sponse in tack­ling the birds that were dam­ag­ing sport­ing re­serves and leav­ing club vol­un­teers an­gry and frus­trated.

Mr Ch­ester­field, also a cricket um­pire, said dis­cov­er­ing the birds at­tack­ing the turf wicket at Hor­sham City Oval on Satur­day morn­ing had em­pha­sised how frus­trat­ing the is­sue was be­com­ing.

“It was just a mat­ter of chance that we spot­ted them. It was about 11am and they were only at­tack­ing the cen­tre square. We usu­ally put a heat mat down to pro­tect the wicket but they had eaten through that,” he said.

“It would have only taken a cou­ple more min­utes of them be­ing there and they could have brought a game of cricket un­done. We can’t af­ford to be sit­ting down there all the time to stop birds from gath­er­ing.

“It’s get­ting more than a bit test­ing for many sport­ing clubs in Hor­sham and the ef­forts that vol­un­teers are putting in to main­tain their sport­ing sur­faces. I imag­ine it would also be frus­trat­ing for the coun­cil’s gar­den staff mem­bers.”

Mr Ch­ester­field said he was un­sure what the most ap­pro­pri­ate ap­proach was in deal­ing with the corella prob­lem, but what was ob­vi­ous was a need for greater ac­tion.

“What we know is that we need a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach to deal­ing with pest corel­las,” he said.

“As an as­so­ci­a­tion we don’t nec­es­sar­ily know the an­swers, but there needs to be some­thing more ag­gres­sive than fly­ing a drone around.

“When the jewel in our crown, the turf wicket at Hor­sham City Oval, looks like it has had hand grenades chucked on it, it’s time for the coun­cil to get more se­ri­ous.

“Peo­ple vol­un­teer­ing time and ef­fort are get­ting sick and tired of it.”

Mr Ch­ester­field said the as­so­ci­a­tion, ap­proach­ing fi­nals, was keen for a res­o­lu­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Not just for cricket but for ten­nis and other com­mu­nity as­sets,” he said. “These birds are a real prob­lem.” Gre­gar­i­ous long-billed corel­las, among the most in­tel­li­gent of Aus­tralian cock­a­toos, are na­tive to western Vic­to­ria and south­ern NSW, but have also pop­u­lated other ar­eas of Aus­tralia.

Their habit of re­spond­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal cir­cum­stances by con­gre­gat­ing in large flocks and ‘cul­ti­vat­ing’ turf, ‘prun­ing’ trees, raid­ing crops and us­ing their large beaks to dis­man­tle infrastruc­ture has long pre­sented a pe­ri­od­i­cal prob­lem for Wim­mera au­thor­i­ties.

In the past the is­sue has po­larised pub­lic opin­ion with peo­ple un­happy with the use of firearms or poi­son bait in Hor­sham, in con­trast with oth­ers call­ing to kill the birds.

Costly contractor trap­ping and gassing of the birds has oc­curred in the past, which at the time prompted con­cerns of ecol­o­gists fear­ful of dam­age to the species’ ge­netic di­ver­sity.

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