The Department of Environment decided in 1997 to review the permit sytem for the handling of South Australian native fauna. This letter was sent to various parties when BCCS became increasingly concerned about the path the review was following.



Hon. John Olsen MP
Premier of South Australia
Monday, 4 June 2001

Dear Premier Olsen,

The BCCS background concerning the changes to the Fauna Permit System

The Bird Care and Conservation Society of SA Inc. received word that the Fauna Permit System was to be reviewed in late 1997 and that this may affect our rehabilitation and release programs. We consequently wrote to the then minister Dorothy Kotz who asserted to us that we would be consulted. We had a meeting at DEH with Frank Dal Piva and Peter Alexander to advise them of our rehabilitation policies and were told, “that they could see no problem with them”.

Dr. Trudy Siedal and I also had a meeting at DEH with Dr. Deb Kelly and Hannah Dridan. We were told that the review would make less paper work for our members and that we would not have to apply for Rescue Permits until the rescued bird was deemed non-releasable.

In January 1999 and 2000, Hannah Dridan repeated to our members at general meetings of BCCS held at the Conservation Council, 120 Wakefield Street Adelaide that we would not have to apply for a Rescue Permit until it was decided whether the bird would not release.

This assurance that we need not apply for rescue permits until the bird was deemed non-releasable was denied in 2001.

Margaret Fuller and I met with David Barrington to discuss this issue. He seemed to be very sympathetic to our concerns and appeared disturbed by our reporting of the problems we were having. Margaret Fuller has supplied the “The Chair” of the Captive Fauna Consultative Committee with what we believe we need for BCCS to operate under the present and changed permit system please see below.

  1. Permission to hold birds without a rescue permit until the bird is deemed non-releasable as notified initially by DEH when the permit system was changed.

    Or:

  2. Permission granted on Rescue Permit to release bird when it meets the criteria on BCCS Fact Sheet “Management and Release of Wild Birds”

  3. Permission to transfer bird on Rescued Permit to other BCCS members with written notification to NPWS within 2 weeks.

    Or:

  4. When a bird is assessed as non-releasable and is suitable for captivity the Rescue Permit should be obtained by the person entrusted with its permanent care.

  5. Clarification of conflicting advice and rules.

We are confused by the ever changing and increasingly unreasonable rules that were designed for individual members of the public not for a society such as ours who care for hundreds of birds.

We are concerned that the majority of members of that committee have little or no experience in the rehabilitation of wild birds. The BCCS has had over twenty-two years of experience. Our policies have been formulated from the data collected from our banding of rehabilitated birds. This is an excellent and an honest way of monitoring the success or otherwise of our programs.

Over the years the species we have banded and released number 3 species from the unprotected list, 13 from the exempt, 13 from the basic and 55 from the specialist category.

We have no control over which species of birds or how many may need our care.

When members of the public bring orphaned, sick or injured birds to us, it is with the expectation that it will be “returned to the wild”. They would be dismayed to be told we had to destroy young healthy or adult birds because we are not allowed to release them and cannot place them in good homes. Many adult wild birds do not make happy captives.

We could not expect our members to become a euthanasia service for the government and its agents.

Through the media, we would be forced to notify the public that we are no longer able to assist them. This would we believe be a public relations disaster for the DEH.

Our members do not profit by their voluntary commitment of time, expense and disruption to the daily lives of themselves and their families.

We understand that there is a great deal of contention between some rescue groups regarding the release of hand-reared possums and kangaroos. Because our society cares only for birds, we can only offer opinions about birds. The rehabilitation of a Willie-wagtail cannot be compared to that of a Red Kangaroo or Bearded Dragon consequently we believe it would be very sensible for DEH to have different requirements in the regulations for reptiles, mammals (including marsupials) and birds.

The Departments new demands will not permit us to continue to provide the compassionate service the public have grown to expect of us since the creation of our society. Sadly in this International Year of Volunteers we are forced to predict that should DEH insist on these unreasonable demands our society may be forced to fold.

If the intention of the Minister and his department is to force the closure of our society, they may achieve their aim.

Our final observation is that the DEH seems to believe that birds in care for more than two weeks may die if released so they wish us to kill them instead.

 

Yours sincerely,

Sharon K. Blair
President
Bird Care and Conservation Society of SA Inc.

 

Cc John Hill MP
Hon Bob Such
Nick Xenophon M.L.C
Mike Elliot Leader of the Democrats
Mike Wran Leader of the Opposition
Colin McKechnie Chair Captive Fauna Consultative Committee Iain Evans .Minister of Environment and Heritage

 

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