On Saturday afternoon 6th March 2021 we were notified of mass Little Corella deaths on the road and road sides at Clifton, South East Queensland. A driver was travelling through the region from Brisbane and witnessed what he said were "hundreds of dead birds" all over the sides of the road in one section.
Below is an account of our research so far, speaking with three reliable local sources, including two experienced people involved with wildlife rescue and care who live in the region and one long term local resident.
Clifton in South East Queensland (Toowoomba Region Council) is a strong agricultural region known for its crop and grain farming. Recently mass flocks of Little Corellas have made Clifton their home, with thousands of birds coming to feed on local sunflower and sorghum crops and drink from local water drains. This phenomenon has not been recorded in the Clifton region before and it is suspected that the birds have come in from western Queensland to find a reliable food and water source.
The influx of birds has been a touchy subject for the town and farmers, as the birds are destroying their crops and therefore their income, this combined with a current mouse plague in the region has caused disaster for their income. The birds have also been witnessed chewing on electrical wires at local businesses and facilities causing extensive damage and some resulting in electrocution. Ergon Energy has attended various cases of power outages in Clifton caused by the birds. Local trees in the town have also been stripped by the birds, causing frustration for residents, making the current situation of trying to preserve the birds and create awareness, quite challenging.
Grain transport trucks that cart the grain from nearby farms to storage facilities spill grain onto the roads and the birds have been coming to feed on this grain, along with the crops and grass seeds on the sides of the road. The birds are not moving off the road when cars approach and while some have been hit by accident, it has been reported that many locals have been witnessing vehicles speed up to hit the birds on purpose, taking out mass numbers and leaving injured and suffering birds in their wake. There is no evidence of disease as a cause for this situation.
I made contact with the only registered Wildlife Carer in Clifton to find out more. She had been bought a few injured Corellas over the last few weeks, but had not witnessed the mass deaths that were reported. She immediately did some local research and attended the location on Saturday afternoon 6th March and counted 80 dead birds on the roadsides - all fresh deaths from road trauma. She again attended on the following day and counted another 15 new deaths.
Speaking to local residents, they have witnessed drivers who were driving at regular speeds, increase their speed as they approach the birds killing many. They believe that the locals are frustrated with the birds destroying their town and crops and have resorted to retaliating in this cruel way. We understand however, that some birds are accidently hit as the birds fly low across the road and are hard to avoid.
Another experienced local wildlife rescue volunteer that I spoke to today said that some of the injured birds she has rescued were not just Little Corellas, but also Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Galah's and Magpies. All birds were taken to a vets but had to be euthanized due to their extensive injuries. In one trip the wildlife rescue volunteer had to stop three times to collect injured birds in one short section of road. She is kindly checking the area at least three days a week, as are other local residents in their travels.
AFFECTS OF POISION FROM MOUSE BAIT
The Clifton area, along with the Darling Downs has been largely affected by a severe mouse plague over the last few months. The situation is very hard to control and this has resulted in the use of baiting and also baited crops also baiting on vegetable farms. A local wildlife rescue volunteer has rescued many birds that have suffered the debilitating effects of eating grain poisoned with "mouse off bait". These birds have all been taken to a vets where they have had to have been euthanized.
Monday 08th March 2021
We had to wait until Monday to make the necessary calls to various departments to try and create some awareness and action. I have also spoken again today with two local residents who are doing what they can to assist with the situation. Thus far, this is what action we have taken to try to help.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU FIND AN INJURED BIRD IN CLIFTON
Should you come across an injured Little Corella or native bird from road trauma or possible rat-bait in the Clifton Region, we ask that you do what you can to help it. By carrying an old towel and a box in your car or a small pet transport cage, this will help with getting the bird to help easily. Please do not try to care for the bird yourself, it needs to be passed onto either a vet or a registered wildlife carer.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU WITNESS VEHICLES SPEEDING UP TO HIT BIRDS ON PURPOSE AT CLIFTON?
Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue
I have received a phone call this afternoon from a friend that works at TMR informing me of the planned upcoming trimming and removal of dead or dying trees on the New England Highway Toowoomba Region, from Mt Kynoch to Hampton. This will include trimming of the 500+ year old Eucalyptus Saligna in the centre of Hampton which has suffered terrible die-back during the long drought.
I have spoken extensively with TMR staff and have been reassured that Registered Wildlife Fauna Catchers will be on site for the period of the tree works. I have offered assistance of our network of wildlife carers, should any animals need to come into care. I have also voiced my concerns about hollow dwelling species not being "let go" to find their own place to live and the precarious outcomes should this happen. I informed TMR about the possible presence of vulnerably listed Greater Gliders. We are waiting to confirm which wildlife spotter company will be in attendance.
Three separate arborists have conduced the assessment of the trees and as much as possible will be done to retain tree hollows and wildlife habitat.
We thank TMR for contacting us regarding this upcoming work so we can reassure local residents regarding the preservation of any wildlife and wildlife habitat that may be encountered.
Full press release below, shared with permission.
Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue.
ANIMAL NAME: Mia #2
SPECIES: Koala (Adult Female)
RESCUE DETAILS: Rescued by K Silk, My Bush Babies Australia, Toogoolawah Qld, January 2021
HOSPITAL/VET: RSPCA Wildlife Hospital
REHABILITATION DETAILS: Currently undergoing Final Tree Rehabilitation at Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue
RELEASE DETAILS: TBA
Koala "Mia #2" is currently in her last phase of rehabilitation at Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue's koala rehabilitation facilities, where she is gaining strength climbing trees in the outdoor treed enclosure.
Poor "Mia 2" is lucky to be alive, after she and her back-rider joey baby were hit by a car earlier this year. Kathy from My Bush Babies Australia promptly attended the rescue of both Mia and her joey, but unfortunately her beautiful baby did not survive the serious car trauma. You can just only imagine what an emotional scene this rescue would have been for Kathy. "Mia 2" was rushed to the wildlife hospital where she received treatment for wounds, eye abrasions, facial injuries and bruising amongst other issues.
Mia is a gentle soul and now that she has almost fully recovered, she now needs to regain her strength after her time in hospital so that she is fit and strong to return to the wild. She will continue to be monitored to ensure she doesn't suffer any set-backs. She has adapted well to the rehabilitation facilities and has proven very difficult to photograph, as as soon as she sees me coming, she scoots up to the very top of her favourite tree.
This week the Australian Government has been in a complicated feud with Facebook and Google resulting in Facebook suspending all news, journalists and some non for profit organization pages. It is unknown at this stage how this ban will affect Australian users of the social media profile long term, however if the ban spreads to all organization pages, it will be a big loss for our followers of Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue. There are rumours of the social media profile being banned altogether in Australia, which is very concerning for us, as a large number of our wildlife rescue calls for koalas & wildlife needing help come through our facebook profile.
To ensure we can still share Koala and Wildlife Rescue Stories with you, we have set up a email newsletter platform. We promise not to spam you with emails at all, it is purely a back-up of a way we can send the koala story updates from our blog to our followers should our social media sites go down. (we really hope they don't).
You can subscribe to the Koala Stories here: http://eepurl.com/hq0zIb
or on the Contact Tab of our website.
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We are very grateful for your support and for following our journey with Koala and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in the Toowoomba Region.
The TKWR Team
🐨 Little Koala “ARCHIE” & his mum 🤷🏻♀️ “RUBY” recently caused a delay in electricity re-connection to the area of Hampton. 😬
🌳 The two koalas moved in on site overnight to an area where Ergon Energy was trimming tree branches required to re-connect the electricity. The Ergon team arrived onsite early in the morning to discover the two koalas had taken up residence in a most in-convenient spot! Ergon called Brendon to attend and he was able to go up in the bucket and retrieve the two koalas from the trees safely. Mrs Koala “Ruby” was not impressed at all, however little “Archie” was more cooperative. 🤣
Both koalas were in beautiful heathy condition and we were able to move them just down the road a bit, away from the electrical works, but still in beautiful habitat. They both launched up the tree on release and soon started eating. Cute release video to come.
🙏 We would like to thank Ergon for all they do to ensure any wildlife they come across during their work in our region is safe and for their commitment to retaining natural old growth habitat in our area. We are grateful to have worked with them on many rescues and projects over the years. Such a great team of people, and how good is it being able to use a bucket-lift for rescues! We wish we could have one of those on hand all the time!
ANIMAL NAME: Drew
SPECIES: Koala (Juvenile Male)
RESCUE DETAILS: Rescued by B & J Gray, TKWR at Goombungee Qld, February 2020
HOSPITAL/VET: Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
REHABILITATION DETAILS: Rehabilitation by Queensland Koala Society
RELEASE DETAILS: December 2020, Goombungee Qld
🐨 “DREW” returns to the wild 💕.
Earlier last year we rescued an orphaned juvenile male koala that we named “Drew”. After receiving medical treatment at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital he went on to be raised by Angela at Queensland Koala Society Inc, where he had lots of little koala friends his own age to play with.
🌳 We recently had the pleasure of returning ‘Drew’ back to his bushland home. He climbed really well and after a bit of exploring, started to eat. The property owners have spotted him a few times since his release, which is great news. These are a couple cute photos of him pausing to look around after he was released back to his home. 🥰 Good luck Drew!
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST FROM TKWR
ANIMAL NAME: Snoopy
SPECIES: Koala (Juvenile Male)
RESCUE DETAILS: Rescued by K Silk, My Bush Babies Australia, Wivenhoe Pocket.
HOSPITAL/VET: UQ Vets, RSPCA Wildlife Hospital Wacol & Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital
REHABILITATION DETAILS: Rehabilitation by Toowoomba Koala & Wildlife Rescue
RELEASE DETAILS: January 2021, Wivenhoe Pocket
31st January 2021
🐨 📸 Koala “SNOOPY” returns home.
These are a couple of photos of dear “Snoopy” just before his release back to the wild last weekend. Big thanks to Kathy from @My Bush Babies Australia for sending the photos through.
Kathy tells us that the release went very well. “He knew where he was. Went straight up and was eating within ½hr.” “The elderly property owner was so happy to see him home”
🏥 You may notice the koalas right eye still looks a little weepy, the hospital found that this is due to the tear-duct on that side being blocked from scar tissue so it will always weep, however he has been monitored for a long time now to ensure that the eye doesn’t cause him any issues in the wild.
We are so happy for you “Snoopy 😘
22 January 2021
You may remember our beautiful little pale grey koala “Snoopy”, who was rescued from the top of a dog kennel way back in September by Kathy?
“Snoopy” has had a long road to rehabilitation which has included a variety of medical treatments at three separate wildlife hospitals and also a time in care with us at our rehabilitation facilities! He has been in treatment now for over four months!! Everyone who has had something to do with this little koalas recovery has completely fallen in love with him and all describe him as a ‘total sweetheart’💕.
We were so pleased to get the call this week to say that he has successfully recovered from his condition and has been cleared for release back to the wild.
Good luck “Snoopy”, it was a pleasure to look after you for a small part of your journey back to health. Kathy who was his original rescuer will be releasing him tomorrow after he is discharged from hospital.
SPECIES: Eastern Grey Kangaroo
RESCUE DETAILS: Rescued by M Butlin & G Butlin, TKWR at Meringandan Qld, January 2020
RELEASE DETAILS: Meringandan Qld, January 2020
It’s been a week of tricky 🦘 Kangaroo rescues for Maree! This is a before photo of one of the challenging rescues she and Georgia performed. A young Eastern Grey Kangaroo found itself trapped in a house yard that had recently installed a new fence on the side of the property that led to bushland. The kangaroo had started to panic not being able to work out how it got itself into the situation and was confused trying to get out again, not locating an access gate at the front of the property. The front access led to a busy road and wasn’t an ideal exit in any case during the day. It is always a delicate situation with macropods as they can go into “stress myopathy” easily and so a lot of considerations had to be made. To cut the story short, with careful planning the kangaroo was able to be gently caught and released immediately into the bushland behind the property successfully. This is a massive task and they did so well to make sure it went smoothly, preventing the kangaroo from causing injury & stress to itself as they often can do in these situations. Well done ladies!
ANIMAL NAME: Brownie
SPECIES: Blue Tongued Lizard
RESCUE DETAILS: Rescued by C Gray, TKWR at Highfields, January 2021
HOSPITAL/VET: Eclipse Park Vets
REHABILITATION DETAILS: Rehabilitation by Toowoomba Koala & Wildlife Rescue
RELEASE DETAILS: January 2021
🦎 “BROWNIE” was rescued by Cam recently after being found in an unusual location at a house in Highfields and there was concern about possible dog trauma. Fortunately the lizard was without injuries and was kept in care for monitoring. It went into a full skin shed within a couple of days. It ate well and was quite feisty and so it was also ready for Cam to to return it to the wild today.
ANIMAL NAME: Bingo
SPECIES: Blue Tongue Lizard (Adult)
RESCUE DETAILS: Mop, Dec 2020
HOSPITAL/VET: Herriot House Vet
REHABILITATION DETAILS: Rehabilitation by Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue
RELEASE DETAILS: January 2021
“BINGO” the blue-tongue was rescued by Jill at the end of December and taken to
Herriot House Veterinary Surgery. It had mild trauma injuries and was started on pain relief. It has improved and coped very well with medication, rest and rehab and we were pleased to let Jill know today that her lizard has now been released.
Judi Gray - Toowoomba Koala and Wildlife Rescue