Wildlife caught in development

A Hutchinson building site at Casuarina where Wallabies and other wildlife are seemingly trapped.
A Hutchinson building site at Casuarina where Wallabies and other wildlife are seemingly trapped. Blainey Woodham

RESIDENTS and bush regeneration workers were shocked last Sunday when they witnessed a number of wallabies crashing against a cyclone fence at Casuarina Town Centre development site.

"It was a sickening sight," said professional bush regenerator Kieran Kinney.

"The wallabies were smashing into the fence and staggering back as they were stunned by the impact."

Earlier in the week a cyclist rang My Daily News to report animals trapped within the fence.

A spokesman for Hutchinson Builders said the company had commissioned wildlife relocation and management service Nature Call to undertake a pre work fauna survey and to prepare a fauna management report before commencing the clearing of the site, which lies between the Tweed Coast Road and Casuarina Beach.

Project manager Grant Le Boutillier said Nature Call had also been brought in to relocate fauna from the site.

Nature Call holds an EPA rehabilitation permit to handle and relocate fauna.

"Prior to works commencing gaps in and under the fencing panels were created to allow a wildlife corridor to the coastal dune," Mr Le Boutillier said.

"These were created under the advice of Nature Call.

"Before any work started on the site we notified the community that wild life officers would be present on site to assist with the relocation of the wildlife.

"The fauna management plan has been implemented on the site prior to clearing works commencing.

"Nature Call wildlife officers are present on site and they have been safely relocating animals whilst the clearing works are underway.

"Random inspections are also being undertaken by both Tweed Shire Council and the NSW National Parks and wildlife officers.

"To date no concerns have been raised by the authorities with regards to how we are managing the site."

A council spokesperson said the council had received phone calls from concerned residents.

One of its Natural Resource Management officers checked with National Parks and Wildlife (Murwillumbah office), which had received a number of similar phone calls of concern from residents.

"The NPWS rangers have visited the site and found the wallabies were able to enter and exit easily and were not distressed," the spokeswoman said.

"Apparently when viewed from the footbridge, this entry/exit point is not visible, so the public may be under the impression they can't get out."

My Daily News passed the site on Tuesday morning and witnessed three visibly stressed wallabies jumping at the fencing, seemingly unaware of the gap beneath.

There were 11 wallabies visible within the fencing about 6.30am.

Marine Action Conservation Society (MACS) member Michael Manley was with Mr Kinney on Sunday.

"It was a shocking sight to see these poor animals crash their bodies against the fencing with a force that could potentially break their necks," he said.

"It seems the builders have done the right thing legally.

"But the process is obviously lacking.

"These animals are getting back into what is their normal habitat, so obviously have not been successfully relocated.

"They have nowhere to go once they get through the fence."

Mr Kinney said native wildlife was being slaughtered on the road because they had no other exit.

"With high density housing on two sides, a very narrow nature strip only at the beach and a road with a fence on the other side, animals fleeing onto the road are stopped by a fence on the western side that drives them back onto the road.

"Many will not be able to re-locate naturally and will die as a result.

"It looks to me like there is negligence involved in the relocation of these animals."

My Daily News contacted Nature Call for a response but had not received one by the time of publication.

Topics:  animals casuarina development environment wildlife

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