In Environment

Western Australia Minister for Environment Donna Faragher

Storm Takes Its Toll On Endangered Black Cockatoos

Victor P Taffa

Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) officers, a team of Perth Zoo veterinary staff and volunteer wildlife carers have been working together over the past two days to save wild black cockatoos injured in Monday’s storm.

Perth Zoo received 23 endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos from DEC and volunteers on Tuesday, exhibiting fractures as well as soft tissue and skeletal injuries.

Three of the birds had to be euthanased and another died as a result of its injuries. After assessment and treatment, nine of the less serious cases were transferred to the Black Cockatoo Recovery Centre in Perth’s southern suburbs.

Environment Minister Donna Faragher said the 10 remaining birds were still receiving treatment and care at Perth Zoo’s on-site veterinary hospital.

“The species is endemic to South-West Australia and it is estimated that only 40,000 currently exist with the population spread over only one-third of the range that existed 50 years ago.” Mrs. Faragher said.

“Vets, wildlife officers and carers have put in a great deal of work to ensure they have the best chance of survival and I would like to acknowledge their tremendous efforts thus far.”

Mrs. Faragher said the storms have had a significant impact on wildlife around Perth.

“So far, 56 Carnaby’s black cockatoos have been affected by the severe weather with 36 having tragically died. Some of the dead birds have been taken to the WA Museum for research purposes.” the Minister said.

“DEC, with the help of the local community, is conducting ongoing monitoring of the Carnaby’s black cockatoos that use the Swan Coastal Plain with the Great Cocky Count, a nocturnal roost survey, due to take place in April 2010.”

The zoo’s veterinary hospital also received and treated several other injured wild birds including a pelican with a smashed wing that had to be euthanased. Several birds of other species have also been found dead across Perth.

Birds are generally the first indicator of the impact that a storm has had on wildlife and due to the severity of Monday’s storm, we are expecting other native wildlife to be affected.

Anyone who spots injured wildlife should call the Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

The Minister said the Perth Zoo also suffered extensive damage during Monday’s storm, particularly the Penguin Plunge and the Australian Wetlands, where the overhead netting was destroyed by hail and a fallen tree.

She said work was progressing at Kings Park to re-open carparks and roads. Some entries were still closed, but the Botanic Garden and the Synergy Parkland were expected to re-open by the end of the day.

“There are also concerns that the storms will impact on marine life in the Canning River.” Mrs Faragher said.

“The storm has washed a considerable amount of organic material into the river, resulting in a rapid decrease in oxygen levels.”

“I encourage members of the public to report any fish deaths or other unusual events to the Swan River Trust.”

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