Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Wildlife in Danger at Weapons Range; Concerns Raised about Threat to Endangered Species during FA-18 Super Hornet Exercises at Evans Head

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Wildlife in Danger at Weapons Range; Concerns Raised about Threat to Endangered Species during FA-18 Super Hornet Exercises at Evans Head

Article excerpt

Byline: DOMINIC FEAIN dominic.feain@northernstar.com.au

AS THE RAAF cranks up its FA-18 Super Hornet exercises near the Evans Head weapons range, concerns have been raised about the threat to endangered wildlife.

Veterinary surgeon Rod Blake said he was a[approximately]gobsmacked' to find there was an estimated 41 bird species and 12 mammals listed as endangered in the Broadwater National Park and, from what he could ascertain, little scientific study into existing fauna in the range or the effects of the new Super Hornet activity on wildlife.

"I'm dealing with injured wildlife daily and I'm deeply concerned about the environment we're releasing them back into for a second chance," he said.

While residents report significantly increased noise levels with the new jets, the RAAF plans to reintroduce a[approximately]strafing' a high-calibre machine gun passes a for the first time in 20 years and to continue bombing runs with more powerful bombs.

"These things are going to be ripping up the ground where ground parrots are nesting," Dr Blake said.

"My other concern is that no one really knows what's in there and what we will be losing.

"I'm just not satisfied with responses to my letters from the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), or Peter Garrett's office.

"There appears to be a serious lack of scientific data. I wrote to the NSW Government requesting a key study on shorebirds at the bombing range beach, but first I had to tell them what I wanted it for, and if I did getaccess to it I was told I wasn'tallowed to disclose the contents due to copyright.

"I asked them what they would do if I threw crackers at a batcolony, and they wrote back saying this was in breach of the Nat-ional Parks and Wildlife Act."

With significant wetlands situated within the bombing exclusion zone, some of Dr Blake's concerns relate to a 1980s US Fish and Wildlife study into the eff-ects of aircraft noise and sonic booms on wildlife. …

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