Hands off native animals

By PETER CATON

TWEED Coast residents have been going out of their way to provide food and even new homes for wildlife since last month's bushfires - and infuriating National Parks officials.

Yesterday the National Parks and Wildlife Service responded with a plea for people to stop their kind deeds arguing they could be doing more harm than good.

NPWS Tweed area manager Nigel Greenup said the good intentions could either lead to the animals becoming reliant on humans for food or, worse, attract predators who became aware of where wildlife would be fed.

He said he understood people feeding animals and even building nesting boxes were trying to help, but Australian wildlife had adapted to fires.

He warned encouraging animals back into an area before it regenerated could cause further problems.

"The most important thing the public can do to help is to not upset the natural balance of regeneration that fire sets in train, and resist feeding wildlife as this can have a number of adverse effects," he said.

"It is important that wildlife populations increase at a level the regenerating bush can sustain. Feeding animals or providing nesting boxes means native animals concentrate in one area and this often makes them targets for natural predator and feral animals."

Mr Greenup said native animals had evolved to cope with bushfires which usually left patches of unburnt vegetation that acted as natural refuges where animals could evade enemies while plants in other areas regrew.

However he said neighbours of bushfire-affected areas were still encouraged to be on the lookout for injured wildlife that may wander into residential areas.

"If you do come across a sick or injured animal in your neighbourhood, contact your local wildlife carer group," he said.



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