Was it ScoMo or Hanson?

Who is responsible, Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Which of these Australian politicians is responsible for the destruction of yet more Australian wildlife?

Morrison and Hanson both handled wombats in recent years and now a large proportion of the nation’s wombats suffer from mange. Coincidence?

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. WPSA enhances quality of life, funds projects that develop and protect suitable habitat, and provides sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats.

Wombat conservation occurs throughout Australia but is carried out almost exclusively by volunteers. Very little government funding is provided to wombat protection groups, and Morrison and Hanson could change this; Morrison especially. Instead, both politicians exploited wombats for photo opportunities instead of substantially increasing funding for their protection.

The One Nation leader posed for a bizarre photo with a distressed wombat while campaigning. She straddled it before appearing to knee it in the back in a move that’s not even legal in the NRL or Super Rugby. That wombat is likely to be suffering a lot more than mange.

Morrison appears extremely uncomfortable handling the wombat during his photo opp, but one can’t expect a man to offer empathy to an animal if he can’t even offer it to humans.

Morrison and Hanson attract an equal amount of suspicion. Both are populist leaders more capable of slogans and photo opportunities than actual policy formation or genuine action. Both utilise racism and the gullibility of semi-literate Australians to maintain their power, and both have a terrible track record on issues of environmental sustainability during their terms.

So who gave the mange to Australia’s lovable native animals?

Was it Scott Morrison or Pauline Hanson?

Images: AAP, ABC

The cats eating Australia.

Cats are eating Australia alive. Cats kill millions of native animals every year and one region has introduced a plan that may well save many adorable Aussie animals from death or extinction.

Cats are estimated to kill about 1.5 billion native animals per annum in Australia. This destruction is the work of domestic cats, stray cats and feral cats. All of these cats are derived from pet cats, as feline species have never been native to Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1994 only 26% of domestic cats were confined both during the day and night. This means 74% of cats where roaming happily, hunting and destroying native wildlife. In the same year, 42,126 cats were dumped on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Only 3% of the cats were reclaimed and 74% were put down.

Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright.

Chantel Benbow is an ecologist, and some would say a hypocrite. She owns a cat and lets it roam free at night around the streets of inner Sydney. Her cat does wear a bib developed by Murdoch University, and utilised widely in the Eurobodalla Council region on the NSW far south coast. The bib claims to distract the cat from the prey, and to stop 81 per cent of cats from catching birds, 45 per cent of cats from catching mammals, and 33 per cent of cats from catching lizards and amphibians.

Not 100%.

That said, Benbow still advises:

“If you want to have a pet cat, keep it indoors because they are hunters. They are beautiful, they are cute and fluffy but they will kill something.”

This is why the Australian Capital Territory has introduced a policy that could save thousands of native Australian animals.

The policy requires all new pet cats obtained after July 1, 2022 to be contained indoors or in a cat run. It does, however, allow cats acquired before July 1, 2022 to roam free if their owners do not live in a new Canberra suburb. These cats can happily kill native wildlife every day and night. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

Another law change allows cat owners to walk their cat on a lead, which is actually prohibited, not just odd. This applies to 17 designated cat containment suburbs in the territory. Cats will also have to be registered, just like dogs, under the new law.

The maximum penalty for breaching the law is $1,600.

Politicians announcing the new law boasted that the ACT is a leader in cat containment.

“The ACT government wants to minimise the impacts of domestic cats on native wildlife by reducing the number of feral, unowned and semi-owned cats through more de-sexing, improved domestic cat welfare and management practices, better ways to identify lost cats and reunite them with their owners,” Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said.

“Every year, free-roaming but owned Canberra cats are estimated to prey on 61,000 native birds, 2,000 native mammals, 30,000 native reptiles and 6,000 native frogs.

The ACT is not the first region to introduce some form of ban on pet cats in order to save Australia’s wildlife.

The municipality of Knox in Victoria has introduced a 24-hour cat curfew on all domestic cats to come into effect on October 1, 2021. Cats must be confined to their owner’s property at all times and the new law was established for one primary reason; to protect native wildlife.

Owners face fines for failure to comply, and the rationale for the law also sites general nuisance and safety for cats. However, it is not difficult to read between the lines of the government document and determine the primary motivation for the move.

The council in Melbourne states that there are “…currently over 6,500 cats registered with Council.” Even if each cat kills only one native animal per day, that municipality will lose 6,500 native animals every day. In the space of a year…

The law should have been introduced long ago. It should be nationwide policy.

The municipality of Knox trialled the curfew in 2020 and more than 86% of residents are said to have supported the continuation of the program, including cat owners themselves.

Opponents or critics of the curfew might also argue that it is not necessary because they put a bell on their cat’s collar to alert wildlife. Their cats then roam guilt-free. Blue Mountains City Council, which administers a large area surrounded by national park, claims:

“Bells on collars don’t always work. Cats with bells can learn to stalk prey silently,” and

“…native animals don’t associate the sound of bells with danger.”

Other Australian communities have also introduce such a ban. Mount Barker near Adelaide implemented a similar law in 2019. The law proposed penalties for cats found roaming freely between 8pm and 7am, and a limit of two cats per property. The community lobbied for the law after becoming sick of domestic cats defecating on people’s properties, fighting in gardens and killing wildlife.

Similar laws aimed at protecting wildlife have also been trialled or implemented in Gawler, Adelaide Hills, Marion and Campbelltown in South Australia. The law in Gawler included a provision to ‘seize, detain and destroy’ any cat caught roaming within its boundaries if the animal isn’t claimed by its owner within three days.

Various forms of cat curfews are also being considered in locations such as Yarra Range Council in Victoria and Wollondilly Council in Sydney. Interestingly, a councillor from Wollondilly Council, Simon Landow, was quoted as saying that the plan had been met with great support, but that the rules had no teeth unless the state government enacted similar legislation.

Mount Barker, Knox and many of the regions mentioned above feature residential areas which adjoin an area of bushland or open space, where native wildlife can still be found. If that wildlife is to survive, a cat curfew must be implemented across the nation.

Image: david_g_bevan_writer

Do you love wombats?

Wombats are cute and cuddly, furry and funny. They waddle their fat little bodies in and out of their burrows and give birth to impossibly cute babies. They’re some of the cutest animals on the planet. Some might say they’re as cute as koalas.

They’re also under threat.

Mange is one of the biggest killers of wombats. The mange mite buries itself under the wombat’s skin triggering extreme itchiness which makes the wombat scratch, causing open wounds and scabs to form.  These become infected, the wombat loses condition, becomes dehydrated, malnourished and slowly dies. The good news is, it can be treated.

The Wombat Protection Society of Australia is working to eliminate that threat. WPSA is a national non-profit organisation created to raise awareness and money in order to provide wombats with immediate protection from harm. We enhance quality of life, fund projects that develop and protect suitable habitat and provide sanctuaries for Australian wombats.

Mange is considered to be the major health issue impacting wombat welfare. It is caused by the parasitic mite sarcoptes scabiei, and the society has brought attention and action to this issue by encouraging and supporting research and collaboration in the treatment and prevention of mange in both free living and in-care wombats. For more information, contact WPSA at mange@wombatprotection.org.au

You can help

Wombat rescue programs operate throughout Australia, and many are staffed by volunteers. You could perform one of the following volunteer roles:

Field visits

Volunteers and full-time staff visit wombat habitat and establish and maintain wombat flaps. The flaps are placed in front of the wombats burrow and every time the wombat brushes the trap, liquid medicine is emptied onto the wombats back. This kills the mange.

The medicine is also administered via a scoop, like a scoop used to retrieve a golf ball from the water. Volunteers scout the wombat when it is out of its burrow, and approach it like an assassin. Instead of killing the wombat, they get close enough to pour the medicine on its back, then chase it to its burrow to check on the condition of the flap.

How fast is a wombat?

There’s one way to find out.

Let’s not beat around the bush (well, not yet). It’s not glamorous work, it’s quite physical, and it can be quite confronting. Seeing a wombat with mange is a horrible sight. Some people might be affected by it, and some may never be comfortable with it. If so, perhaps another role might suit you better.

DIY

Wombat flaps need to be constructed. At the moment, many are scraped together with donated or recycled materials including plastic take-away containers, vegemite jar lids and open for inspection signs. Someone with construction skills and a desire to save these beloved animals could create a more sturdy, permanent design for a wombat flap – you could do it all in your shed.

Administration

Administration is a large part of wombat protection, and can include any of the following tasks:

Website design

Data entry

Rostering

Letter writing

Grant requests

Social media marketing

Report collation

Event organisation

Education and teaching

To volunteer in an admin role, you don’t have to live near wombat habitat in order to help, in fact you don’t even have to leave the house. There are roles you could perform from the comfort of your loungeroom.

For further information and to find out how you can help protect these lovable creatures:

http://www.wombatprotection.org.au

info@wombatprotection.org.au

0448 087 994

Images: University of Tasmania, Getty Images, Australian Reptile Park, Paul Looyen

Aussie sports shooters to take on new role after Olympics.

Australia’s best sports shooters will shoot and kill invasive animals upon returning from Tokyo 2020 under a new plan devised by Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley.

The nation’s elite shooters will travel the country hunting and killing the invasive animals which are destroying Australia’s natural environment and its native wildlife. Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, and feral animals contribute greatly to this destruction. The estimated cost of invasive species was $AUD13.6 billion in the 2011-12 financial year alone.

“Australia’s best sports shooters will use their skill and experience to hunt and kill invasive animal species,” announced Ley.

“They will begin this important work upon the conclusion of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and will continue until every feral animal is eliminated from Australia. We must eliminate invasive species from our land in order to protect the ecology of this country.”

Ley believes the initiative presents numerous benefits. Shooters will help rid Australia of destructive species while honing their skills in a realistic environment shooting at moving targets, enabling them to hopefully win more medals at the next games.

“This will be especially beneficial to ‘Shotgun’ competitors, who must hit a moving target during competition, as well as exponents of Rifle and Pistol disciplines. We are also confident that it will provide a competitive edge for our shooters over shooters from other nations at Paris 2024.”

Ley also explained that Olympic shooters are suitable for this task because they are likely to return to Australia with COVID-19, and spreading this disease among the animal population may be more efficient than shooting,

“And it’s much cheaper than bullets.”

Under the plan, shooters will be required to reach a quota of animals killed in order to receive continued sports funding from the Australian taxpayer.

“We believe this will incentivise shooters to carry out their task effectively. We also expect Bridget McKenzie to join the shooters on their hunt, because she knows all about sports funding and she loves to shoot.”

Australia’s natural environment is under great threat from a range of invasive species such as cats, foxes, deer, mice, rats, myna birds, camels, horses, pigs, dogs, rabbits, goats, donkeys, buffalo, carp and cane toads. All of these animals can be shot, including the much-maligned cane toad.

“Cane toads are hard to shoot, but when you hit one, gosh it feels good. Watching the toxins spurt out of its guts is why I love shooting,” explained one Aussie shooter.

Another benefit of assigning this role to sports shooters is that many invasive species are found on private land, and many shooters own this land, so it will be easier to gain access to areas where feral animals dominate.

Ley was excited at the proposed outcomes of this program, and the contribution that some of our Olympic competitors can make to the country.

“Eliminating feral animals from our continent is far more valuable to the country than an Olympic gold medal.”

Image: http://www.commonwealthgames.com.au

Another cat curfew in Australia.

The municipality of Knox in Victoria has introduced a 24-hour cat curfew on all domestic cats to come into effect on October 1, 2021. Cats must be confined to their owner’s property at all times and the new law was established for one primary reason; to protect native wildlife.

Owners face fines for failure to comply, and the rationale for the law also sites general nuisance and safety for cats. However, it is not difficult to read between the lines of the government document and determine the primary motivation for the move.

The council in Melbourne states that there are “…currently over 6,500 cats registered with Council.” Even if each cat kills only one native animal per day, that municipality will lose 6,500 native animals every day. In the space of a year…

The law should have been introduced long ago. It should be nationwide policy.

Cats are still the single most destructive introduced species in Australia. More destructive to wildlife than foxes, rabbits, horses, wild pigs, wild dogs, deer, camels, donkeys and even cane toads.

Cats are estimated to kill about 1.5 billion native animals per annum in Australia. This destruction is the work of domestic cats, stray cats and feral cats. All of these cats are derived from pet cats. Feline species have never been native to Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 1994 only 26% of domestic cats were confined both during the day and night. This means 74% of cats where roaming happily, hunting and destroying native wildlife. In the same year, 42,126 cats were dumped on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Only 3% of the cats were reclaimed and 74% were put down.

Feral cats threaten at least 124 Australian species which are in danger of extinction, and cats are a major reason that Australia has the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world – not per capita – outright.

Chantel Benbow is an ecologist, and some would say a hypocrite. She owns a cat and lets it roam free at night around the streets of inner Sydney. Her cat does wear a bib developed by Murdoch University, and utilised widely in the Eurobodalla Council region on the NSW far south coast. The bib claims to distract the cat from the prey, and to stop 81 per cent of cats from catching birds, 45 per cent of cats from catching mammals, and 33 per cent of cats from catching lizards and amphibians.

That said, Benbow still advises:

“If you want to have a pet cat, keep it indoors because they are hunters. They are beautiful, they are cute and fluffy but they will kill something.”

The municipality of Knox trialled the curfew in 2020 and more than 86% of residents are said to have supported the continuation of the program, including cat owners themselves.

Opponents or critics of the curfew might also argue that it is not necessary because they put a bell on their cat’s collar to alert wildlife. Their cats then roam guilt-free. Blue Mountains City Council, which administers a large area surrounded by national park, claims:

“Bells on collars don’t always work. Cats with bells can learn to stalk prey silently,” and

“…native animals don’t associate the sound of bells with danger.”

Knox is not the first community to introduce such a ban. Mount Barker near Adelaide implemented a similar law in 2019. The law proposed penalties for cats found roaming freely between 8pm and 7am, and a limit of two cats per property. The community lobbied for the law after becoming sick of domestic cats defecating on people’s properties, fighting in gardens and killing wildlife.

Similar laws aimed at protecting wildlife have also been trialled or implemented in Gawler, Adelaide Hills, Marion and Campbelltown in South Australia. The law in Gawler included a provision to ‘seize, detain and destroy’ any cat caught roaming within its boundaries if the animal isn’t claimed by its owner within three days.

Various forms of cat curfews are also being considered in locations such as Yarra Range Council in Victoria and Wollondilly Council in Sydney. Interestingly, a councillor from Wollondilly Council, Simon Landow, was quoted as saying that the plan had been met with great support, but that the rules had no teeth unless the state government enacted similar legislation.

Mount Barker, Knox and many of the regions mentioned above feature residential areas which adjoin an area of bushland or open space, where native wildlife can still be found. If that wildlife is to survive, a cat curfew must be implemented across the nation.

Image: Jae Park

Nancie Akinyi wins the inaugural Migration Gravel Race.

Nancie Akinyi of Kenya has won the inaugural Migration Gravel Race in Kenya in a time of 30:41:33 ahead of Betsy Welch of The USA and Dorien Geertsema of the Netherlands. Welch finished in 30:49:58 and Geertsema recorded a total time of 33:32:24.

Akinyi won three of the four stages on her way to victory but still had a considerable gap to close entering the final day. She trailed Welch by 20 minutes after Welch had won the brutal first stage and established a lead of more than 40 minutes.

Akinyi won the Queen’s stage with an impressive display of climbing to conquer the 3000m of elevation, then took further time away from the American with another powerful ride on the short and fast stage 3.

Akinyi and Welch were both lost throughout the race. Akinyi strayed off course on day 1 and 2, and lost time navigating her way back onto the trail. Welch was lost inside her own mind, asking publicly if she cared or didn’t care about winning, and whether or not she is competitive. She can be certain of the silver medal she takes home from Kenya.

The final stage would decide the overall winner in the women’s category. Welch enjoyed a 20 minute lead over the Kenyan, and Akinyi charged through the 160km stage with determination. She didn’t stop at the first feed station, and slowly chipped away at the time gap. Behind her, Welch was suffering with a chain that kept slipping off. Akinyi eventually won the stage by almost 30 minutes, and grabbed the gold medal.

Behind the two leaders, Geertsema and companion Mieke Luten rode together and supported each other throughout the first two stages. At the end of stage 3 and 4, however, Geertsema found more strength in her legs and rode away from her compatriot to claim the final position on the podium, while Luten finished 4th in 34:59:37.

Ian Boswell wins stage 4 of the Migration Gravel Race.

Ian Boswell finally claimed victory at the Migration Gravel Race with a strong solo breakaway to finish ahead of a chase group containing the contenders for the podium. Boswell powered to victory in stage 4 just a few kilometres from the place where he struck disaster on stage 1 and lost his chances on winning overall.

“It took me 580 kilometres to find my terrain,” he said.

“Just about 5k from here is where I lost the chance in the overall at the start of the first stage with the mechanical, so to win here today does feel a little strange.”

“Today is the culmination of everything I’ve learned on this race. I’m now more familiar with the racing style here. Even near the end there I was cruising through cars and cattle and people on the road, so I just went up onto the grass to go around them. The great thing about this race is that anything can happen.”

Boswell and Laurens Ten Dam were the two clear favourites for the overall title. Boswell has ridden in all three grand tours and recently outsprinted Ten Dam at the Unbound Gravel race. Ten Dam placed in the top 10 at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. Boswell, however, lost about 1 hr and 30 minutes due to multiple mechanical failures on the first stage, and had to fight for a stage victory to redeem his race.

A large lead group established itself at the beginning of the final stage, and only broke up during the first climb. This is where Boswell seized his opportunity.

“Didier (Munyaneza) attacked on the climb and by the top he had a bit of a gap. I decided to go with him then pushed on. Didier dropped off on the descent and I decided to go for it once I had a gap. I knew it would take a lot of commitment for all of the chase pack to work together.”

The chase pack contained Ten Dam and Suleman Kangangi, who were the only two riders with a realistic chance of overall victory. It also contained a contender for the third podium spot, Kenneth Karaya, plus John Kariuki and Jordan Schleck. Geoffrey Langat, who won stage 3, was also within reach of third place overall, but he and Kato Paul punctured early in the stage and lost contact with the leaders.

Munyaneza eventually crossed the line behind the chase pack, and the Rwandan road cyclist was satisfied with his performance in his first ever gravel race.

“Boswell dropped me on the descent after the climb. This is my first gravel race so it was good for me to get experience against European riders. Next time, I’ll do more training for longer before the event. I will be stronger.”

Boswell enjoyed his last day on the gravel roads of the Maasai Mara.

“The last 50k or so was fast, with beautiful dirt roads. I saw two elephants and some wildebeest on the ride today, so it was a fun way to end it.”

Geoffrey Langat rocks to victory in the Migration Gravel Race.

Kenyan Geoffrey Langat attacked through a rock garden to win stage 3 of the Migration Gravel Race ahead of four East African riders. Langat won in 4:34.22 ahead of Kenyan Riders teammate John Kariuki, who finished in 4:39.40 to lead home the chase group of compatriot Kenneth Karaya, Ugandan Jordan Schleck and Kenya’s Suleman Kangangi, plus Laurens Ten Dam and Ian Boswell.

Langat broke away from a group of seven riders in the final 20 kilometres when they confronted a rocky section of the otherwise smooth gravel road. The Kenyan battled through the rocks while the rest sought smoother lines off the side of the road, and he’d established a meaningful gap when the group rode back onto the rocks. A few minutes later, a herd of cows, then a flock of sheep, slowed the chasers, leaving some to wonder whether the local boy had arranged for the cattle to be herded onto the road.

Langat was soon nothing but a trail of dust to the chasing group.

The largest lead pack of the race so far stayed together for a long time on the fast, flat stage, and watched as wildebeest and zebra sprinted across the trails in front of them. A select group of five riders then formed, without overall leader Ten Dam. Boswell, Schleck, Kariuki, Kangangi and Langat sat about 3 minutes ahead of the Dutchman as the tailwind propelled them across the gravel. The three Kenyan Riders surged in an attempt to distance Ten Dam, but he worked with Karaya and both of them eventually clawed their way back to the front.

Ten Dam started the final stage with a lead of about 19 minutes over Kangangi. Thomas Dekker and Karaya are 57 minutes behind, while Langat and Boswell are about 1 hr 20 minutes off the leader. The battle for the bronze is particularly interesting.

Stage 4 is 160km long and features 1600m elevation. What will it do to the podium?

Nancie Akinyi wins a wild stage of the Migration Gravel Race.

Nancie Akinyi sped to her second consecutive victory during stage 3 of the Migration Gravel Race on a day when riders crossed paths with Kenya’s famous wildlife. Akinyi finished ahead of Betsy Welch and may have set herself up for overall victory.

Akinyi and Welch rode together for the first hour before back pain slowed Welch. Akinyi then broke away from the American and the Dutch pair of Dorien Geertsema and Mieke Luten, as ostrich, zebra and wildebeest sprinted across the flat and dusty roads right in front of the riders. The Kenyan took advantage of the tailwind to maintain a consistently high pace and successfully weaved her way through the cattle, goats and sheep which blocked the road throughout the day.

Reflecting on the first 3 stages, Welch said her arms hurt more than her legs, and re-ignited an old debate when she asked:

“Should I have brought a mountain bike?”

Riders were invited to see two goats slaughtered in their honour by their Maasai hosts after the stage. Some accepted, some declined. The fate of the goats reflected the harsh reality of rural Kenya, something riders will again experience on the 4th and final stage.

Who will stand on top of the podium in the inaugural Migration Gravel Race?

Follow the action at http://www.migrationgravelrace.com, and http://www.instagram.com/migrationgravelrace

Australia’s gone to the dogs. Part 1.

Australia has gone to the dogs. The nation is one of the world’s major drivers of climate change and is decimating its native wildlife and ecology, and is thus becoming an international pariah. The current government controls its gullible population with marketing spin, and education levels continue to decline. A tiny fraction of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and natural disasters arrive one after the other. But all Australians seem to care about are their dogs. Dogs are everywhere – in parks, beaches and cafes, and even public transport and libraries. This country has gone to the dogs.

Dogs v native animals

Australia is home to an estimated 29 million pets and about 25.7 million people. That’s right, more pets than people. We might have to stop teasing New Zealand about having so many sheep. Most of those pets are dogs and cats, and roughly one in three households has a pet dog.

Australia also has the world’s highest rate of native mammal extinction – outright. Pets are one cause of the extinctions. Cats are the single most destructive introduced species in the country, and wild dogs cause large-scale destruction. Wild dogs were once pet dogs. Native mammal extinction points to a disregard for native animals among Australian people who demonstrate an obsession with pet animals. Australians clearly prioritise dogs and cats over wildlife.

Natural disasters

Even during the Black Summer bush fires of 2019/2020, concern for pets over native animals was evident. Unfortunately, many pets were lost, but millions of native animals also perished in the unprecedented fires. However, at one emergency centre, evacuees complained that their pets were not allowed inside the building, because health and safety regulations prohibit the entry of pets into the premises. Evacuees and fellow Australians erupted on social media and blasted the evacuation centre co-ordinators. The dogs were safe, they had food, water and medical attention, and they were supervised outside the premises. Even some of the evacuees themselves chose to sit outside the building while they waited for the fires to be put out. Australians decried the treatment of pets, while millions of native animals were dying.

National parks

Pet dogs are banned from national parks in Australia. Domestic pets have an adverse effect on native wildlife. Some dog owners ignore signage and they take their dogs into national parks. According to NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, rangers cannot effectively monitor all of the parks to prevent domestic pets from entering, because they lack the resources. National parks services are not sufficiently funded by government.

Where is the national outcry?

Why aren’t Australians demanding the protection of our national parks? Perhaps for the same reason that Aussies are not doing more to protect another national icon, the koala.

Experts warn that koalas could become extinct by 2050, and wild dogs are a major cause of koala deaths, along with land clearing and climate change. Environmental groups and concerned citizens are campaigning for habitat protection to ensure koala survival, but where are the owners of the 29 million pets?

Koalas are also a major contributor to the nation’s (pre-COVID-19) tourist sector and the economy. Tourists flock from all across the globe to see a koala up close. They will not fly halfway around the world to look at someone’s pet dog.

Wildlife shelter vs pet shelter

Controversy surrounds changes to the RSPCA NSW Blue Mountains Shelter in Katoomba, near Sydney. Essentially, the debate centres around the expansion and modification of the shelter to cater for native wildlife harmed by the 2019/2020 bush fires. The fires were so widespread in the Blue Mountains that the national parks and the animals therein are still being rehabilitated.

RSPCA members and community members have voiced objections to the inclusion of native wildlife in the shelter. The RSPCA conceded that:

“…wildlife could be stressed by the sight, sound or even smell of the dogs…” and thus dogs would have to be housed in a completely separate building. One member then stated:

“I am concerned for the dogs which will need to be locked away in the new, totally enclosed kennels…” and a local politician, Kerry Brown, expressed similar sentiments.

Many of the animals housed at the shelter are strays. They are animals left without a home due to the neglect of owners. Therefore, rehabilitation of native animals is being obstructed due to concern for dogs.

The RSPCA website states that:

“Along with cats and dogs, RSPCA helps a wide range of other animals from horses to rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, goats and sheep. All of these animals are non-native, (birds may be native or introduced). Rabbits cover Australia in plague proportions and destroy native flora and fauna, as well as crops. In contrast, an organisation called WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) cares for native animals. If the majority of Australians heard the names of these two organisations, which one would they be more familiar with?

Image: Gabriel Crismariu